01344 873952

Customer Support

Contact Us

[email protected]

Mon - Fri: 9am - 5pm

Shop Opening Times

Top 5 UK Brands to Launch Cosmetic Recycling

Overall, more than 120 billion beauty packages are created each year, and less than 10% of those ultimately get recycled. Now, many brands are taking action to improve this number and reduce the amount of beauty packaging that ends up in the landfill. This means there are more sustainable solutions and recycling options available. Luckily, some brands in the UK are jumping onto the recycling bandwagon.

Sometimes it’s hard to fathom just how horrific the extent of the devastation that plastics have on the planet, especially our oceans. That said, documentaries like Blue Planet II have opened our eyes. According to Global Citizen, by late 2018, 88% of those who had seen it had changed their relationship with plastic completely. They went on to call the episode, ‘a key moment sparking the war on plastics.’

We have certainly noticed more reusable water bottles on our commute and in the office – some people have gone a week completely plastic-free and huge beauty brands have started doing their bit to reduce their plastic waste, including creating refillable beauty products. So, does this mean that we are nailing our recycling routines? Apparently not, as according to research carried out by Garnier, 56% of Brits don’t recycle their bathroom products and around 95% of our empties still end up in landfill.

It’s thought to be partly down to us having only one bin in our bathroom, instead of two separate bins like we have in our kitchens to separate recyclable goods. But the other issue is the complexity of bathroom products; a hand soap bottle and an eyeshadow palette are slightly more confusing that the plastic container your mushrooms come in.

“Beauty product packaging is often composed of a variety of types of material,” explains Stephen Clarke, Head of Communications at TerraCycle Europe. “For example — mirrored glass, cardboard sleeves, paper inserts, expanded plastic foam and more have been known to be used in cosmetics packaging– sometimes all in one item.” This makes recycling them incredibly difficult.

“120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry,” Clarke continues. “Of these, very few plastic waste items generated in the bathroom are accepted by most public kerbside recycling programmes. Most common beauty products and packaging contribute to the world’s growing plastic waste problem and, without adequate recovery solutions, are tracked for landfills, burned, buried, or simply littered where waste management is insufficient. Many plastic waste items find their way into oceans and waterways, compounding the problem with environmental hazards.”


Harrods and waste management company Mygroup have expanded their cosmetics recycling scheme across the luxury retailer’s five H beauty stores, following a successful trial. The scheme, which allows customers to bring used beauty, make-up and skincare products back to stores to be recycled in exchange for rewards through Harrods’ Mybeauty scheme, is now live at H beauty Bristol, Edinburgh, Lakeside, Gateshead and Milton Keynes.

The roll-out of the scheme to the five H beauty stores follows a successful trial at the Milton Keynes store – 200kg of beauty packaging and products were diverted from landfills and successfully recycled. H beauty customers can recycle a variety of products – from make-up items, such as compacts, mascara and eye shadow containers, to shampoo and skincare bottles, lotion pumps and vitamin bottles. Specially designed bins for depositing items are located next to tills in stores. Customers returning five or more eligible used items to one of the stores will receive 500 bonus MyBeauty rewards points.

The British Beauty Council has revealed that only 9% of cosmetic packaging finds its way into recycling through conventional household waste channels, leading the vast majority to end up in landfills. The H beauty recycling scheme is being re-introduced in order to combat this issue.

MYGroup is a specialist in processing cosmetic waste and already works with several high-profile beauty retailers on similar in-store schemes. Items deposited through the H beauty scheme will be collected and recycled at MYGroup’s dedicated UK-based facility in Hull, East Yorkshire, where the company has

invested in a series of advanced technological processes, meaning both the packaging and inner cosmetic product can be fully extracted, recovered and recycled.

Packaging waste is either composted, re-purposed and returned to supply chains as raw material or manufactured into Mygroup’s unique solution for ‘unrecyclable’ plastic waste: Myboard. Cosmetic residue is recovered into bio-fuel. Steve Carrie, group director, of Mygroup, said: “I am immensely proud of our collaboration with Harrods and the expansion of our cosmetics recycling scheme across all H beauty stores. Working with another iconic retail brand in the space further solidifies Mygroup’s position as the market leader in cosmetics recycling. Our commitment to innovation and sustainability is at the forefront of a revolution in the waste industry, and through initiatives like this scheme, we’re setting new standards for what can and can’t be recycled, and leading the charge in making sustainability a cornerstone of retail.”

Mia Collins, director of buying – beauty, Harrods, said: “Launching the H beauty recycling scheme’s second phase on a wider scale stands as a pinnacle for Harrods and H beauty, emphasising our dedication to sustainable practices. MyBeauty Recycle & Reward scheme resonates with our loyal customers who are passionate about embracing a more eco-conscious lifestyle. Upholding our promise to minimise waste and increase recycling across the business, our collaboration with MYGroup remains pivotal in propelling this mission forward. Together, we’re leading a transformative journey towards recycling and circularity in the beauty industry, in line with the Harrods brand commitment to responsible practices.”

The Sustainable Beauty Coalition (MarieClaire)

The Sustainable Beauty Coalition has always championed cleaning up beauty’s packaging act. On the topic, Jayn Sterland, Chair of the organisation, says, “I do strongly believe that this needs to be a two way street, a partnership between brand and consumer to jointly do the right thing by the planet. As consumers, we need to make sure we discard products in a way that doesn’t add to the current environmental problem.”

We need to make sure that where we can, we are recycling our beauty products properly. Below is our guide to what can be recycled and what should be put in the normal bin. Clarke says it’s important to know the difference. “Beauty products and packaging that cannot be recycled through the public system will not only be diverted towards landfill or incineration anyway, they slow down the system and have the potential to contaminate bales of secondary material. We must improve the system to create a circular economy for plastics.”

There are lots of other ways that you can help reduce your beauty waste:

  • Lewis recommends keeping a ‘beauty empties’ bag in your bathroom, as an easy way to collect your empties and dispose of correctly when the bag becomes full.
  • Lewis also says to switch your sheet masks for a mask in a jar. Sheet masks are single use, and even if the sheet is biodegradable, it will still take time to decompose and is unlikely to add nutrients to the compost it’s added to.
  • Get your hands on a TerraCycle Zero Waste Box. The company will send an empty box to your house, you fill it with your beauty empties listed on the website, and then send it back to them to recycle it all.
  • Download the Sustainable Beauty Coalition’s Planet Positive Beauty Guide. The guide gives you evidence-based tips on how to make more sustainable choices. Whether you need to brush up on which certifications you should keep an eye out for or want to learn more about the brands that are dedicated to improving society, this beauty dictionary will get you there in no time.
  • Buy products that are packaged in highly recycled materials, like PET bottles.
  • Buy from brands that offer a refillable service or reusable packaging.
  • Opt for certified organic beauty products where you can, as they are free from harmful pesticides and chemicals and have been made in a sustainable, ethical way.


Lush, the fresh handmade cosmetics company, has announced the completion of its new Green Hub at the home base of the brand in Poole, Dorset. Lush says the Green Hub is part of its commitment to and investment in “finding solutions” for materials that could be considered waste. With six core teams working together at the Green Hub, Lush says it is creating circular economies, working to close the loop on packaging and water waste and find solutions to reuse, repurpose, repair and recycle materials from across their business.

Lush has operated a Green Hub facility since 2015 but has now invested £2.3m in relocating to and refitting its new 40,000 sq ft premises on the Fleets Corner Business Park to create an in-house location dedicated to waste management. With a building three times the size of its previous location, Lush says the capabilities of the Green Hub for processing and reinventing waste have upscaled and expanded.

Key functions of the new Green Hub include granulating plastic as part of the brand’s closed-loop Bring it Back recycling scheme, treating wastewater from their manufacturing and laundry processes, repairing machinery to prevent purchasing new and donating surplus products and lifestyle items to charities and grassroots groups across the country. In 2022, from the new location, Lush says it was able to recycle 81% of its UK Manufacturing waste, repair over 700 electrical items and donate more than 107,000 products and lifestyle items to “people in need”.

Ruth Andrade, Earthcare Strategy Lead for Lush, commented: “We asked ourselves what would happen if, instead of dealing with materials as waste, we processed them to keep their value for longer? What would happen if we kept them in the loop? Then if we were to do this, how could we really know what happened to our materials at the end of their lives? “To answer these questions, and to keep our waste traceable and ourselves accountable, the Green Hub was born. From the early days of the first Green Hub in 2015, it has been about much more than just ways to process materials, it has been about finding the hidden potential in the materials we use.”

Marks & Spencer

Marks and Spencer (M&S) is the latest retailer to launch an in-store beauty recycling scheme. Consumers can now return their empty beauty product packaging to more than 40 M&S stores across the UK, including pumps, pots, compacts, jars, tubes, lids, toothbrushes and razor handles.

M&S predicts the initiative, launched in partnership with beauty recycling specialist Handle, will collect more than two tonnes of packaging within its first year, turning it into new packaging and products and preventing it from going to landfill. Today, only around 9-50% of packaging is recycled in the UK, according to current estimates, while 120 billion units are produced globally every year.

“We’re passionate about creating simple solutions that help our customers live lower carbon lives,” said Carmel McQuaid, Head of ESG at M&S. Plastic is one of the biggest challenges facing the beauty industry and while there is still lots more to do, we hope this scheme encourages customers to recycle their beauty empties to give them a second life and reduce the amount of packaging that goes to landfill.”

As a further incentive, M&S is also offering shoppers a 10% discount on beauty products when they bring back their empties. The scheme is part of M&S’ ongoing Plan A sustainability initiative, which has seen the retailer cut plastic use by 80% by switching to refill alternatives across its Apothecary range, according to its 2023 sustainability report. It joins an ever-growing list of beauty players investing in in-store recycling schemes including Sephora, Harrods and The Body Shop.

Estée Lauder

Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) has signed a deal to help boost its use of recycled raw materials. The Clinique and La Mer owner is partnering with SK Chemicals to develop packaging made from the South Korean company’s materials from advanced recycling.  This process chemically decomposes waste plastic into monomers, the raw materials for plastic.

Under the agreement, SK Chemicals will supply its Ecotria CR and Skypet CR materials – grades that include chemically recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste. The company will also provide ELC with its Ecozen Claro copolyesters, which can be incorporated into a recycling stream. According to SK Chemicals, ELC plans to gradually increase the amount of recycled materials in its products, replacing non-recyclable materials with designs that incorporate recyclable or recycled ones. The partnership will see Xampla turn Elemis’ product ingredient leftovers into a biodegradable, heat-sealable film. Meanwhile, the ELC project is the latest in a series of 2023 partnerships between SK Chemicals and companies manufacturing beauty packaging.