UK department store chain John Lewis & Partners has launched a beauty packaging recycling trial, BeautyCycle, which allows members of its my John Lewis loyalty programme to earn £5 off any beauty purchase when they bring empty make-up and skincare packaging from any brand in-store for recycling.

Created in collaboration with post-consumer waste collection and reuse specialist TerraCycle, the beauty packaging recycling trial aims to establish customer demand for beauty recycling and tackle the current low recycling rates within the global cosmetics industry.

TerraCycle said that many beauty products are designed to be squeezable, twistable and portable and often contain caps, labels and pumps which make them harder to recycle. BeautyCycle will see the waste specialist take the empty packages and separate them into metals, plastics and fibres. Each part will then be recycled, composted or made into pellets.

Beauty packaging accepted on the trial includes items, such as shampoo bottles, caps, lotion bottles, jars, lip gloss and mascara tubes. The only packaging not accepted is aerosol cans, nail varnish bottles and fragrance bottles, due to their potential flammability.

John Lewis & Partners senior sustainability manager Martyn White said: “Our customers are becoming more mindful about what they buy and what happens to products once they’ve reached the end of their first life.

“Beauty products are notoriously hard to recycle which can make it hard for customers to know what to do with them, which often means they end up being thrown in the bin. One of our key aims is to make ‘being sustainable’ as easy as possible for customers, so it doesn’t have to be a difficult choice. The BeautyCycle trial will help us to do just that, enabling customers to shop and enjoy beauty products in a more sustainable way, ensuring the materials are re-used in the best way possible.”

TerraCycle Europe general manager Laure Cucuron said: “Very few beauty products or beauty product packaging, outside of, say, plastic bottles, are accepted by most council kerbside recycling systems due to the complexity of the material. So we are delighted to be working with John Lewis & Partners to offer their customers the chance to recycle empty beauty products and packaging in John Lewis stores across the UK.”

BeautyCycle will run for one month in all 36 John Lewis stores with a full-line beauty service.

If successful, the beauty recycling trial will become permanent.

The beauty recycling trial is part of John Lewis’ Better Way of Doing Business initiative. The retailer selected four businesses to reduce plastic waste and participate in its JLAB retail innovation programme and trialled an innovative new platform fashion reuse and recycle home collection service.

Beauty industry boosts packaging reuse and recycling efforts

Procter & Gamble (P&G) recently announced plans to test recyclable refill pods for its skincare brand Olay in an effort to reduce plastic used in the beauty industry. Earlier this year, cosmetics retailer Lush opened its first plastic-free store, Naked, and is one of many beauty retailers to lead the industry in making more sustainable efforts.