Maybe you’re switching to natural beauty products and are wondering what to do with your old finished brands, maybe you have really specific needs that only one brand fulfils that isn’t zero waste. Or maybe, like me, one day you realised you’d somehow accidentally hoarded loads of half empty make up products that were definitely expired and needed to go. Any and all of these situations leave you with one question, what am I supposed to do with all this old make up? If you’re trying to reduce waste this is an even sadder question, because the thought of simply throwing it away seems pretty tragic.

Recycling cosmetic packaging is even more complicated because most local recycling services only take items made from materials that are easily recognised and sorted, such as paper or drinks bottles. Cosmetics are normally too complex for local services due to their size and the variety of what they’re made from; they aren’t easily recognisable so they aren’t easily recycled.

But fear not everyone! There is a solution! And it’s not very complex so this won’t be a long post.

Origins recycles make up packaging. Not just their make up packaging, ANY make up packaging from any brand, every day, as part of the beauty industry’s first recycling programme for cosmetic packaging that they started in 2009. I feel like I’ve only really seen this mentioned as happening in the USA, in fact the Origins website even says the programme is ‘currently available in North America’ but it DOES happens in the UK. I went into Selfridge’s in London to talk to the people at the Origins counter, where I was told that not only do they accept and recycle any brand, but as you bring in more containers to recycle you are also rewarded with free samples of Origins products, which is pretty sweet. The lady at the counter also explained to me that Selfridges have a policy where open containers/boxes aren’t allowed to be left out, so you have to hand them to an Origins employee, but at the Origins counter at John Lewis down the road this wasn’t the case, so there’s a box left out where you can drop your containers. Because Origins are often counters in larger stores the rules around how they operate their recycling programme are probably changeable depending on where your local Origins is based. So, just because you can’t immediately see something indicating a recycling programme doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist! Just ask an employee.

And what exactly happens to your products once you drop them at Origins? Well Greenredeem has the answers on this one…

As much of the packaging as possible will be recycled and turned back into usable products:
1. Bottles, jars, caps and tubes will be separated
2. The sorted material will be sent to specialist recycling companies
3. The components will be ground, washed and reformed into plastic or glass resin for use in new items
4. Your cosmetic packaging will have a whole new life, perhaps becoming another packaging item, a paint can or even a park bench!

Small parts which cannot be recycled will be sent for energy recovery, where waste is converted to steam and electricity while strictly controlling emissions.

This seems like a much better option than landfill right? And Origins has stores all over the UK for this! They have a store locator online, so I would recommend finding your nearest store and going in to see for yourself!

Also, whilst we’re on the Origins subject, the Origins employees at Selfridges were very insistent that I also mention their Plant-A-Tree program, aimed at helping reforestation projects around the world. In partnership with the American Forests’ Global ReLeaf, and other local organisations, Origins have planted over 500,000 trees so far. The employees were very excited to tell me that, after being an Origins employee for a certain amount of time (I think it’s one year but I could be wrong here) a tree is planted in your name. It’s a kind of eco-friendly employee reward programme, and it’s obviously working as they were so excited to tell me about it. I think that’s pretty cool.

So there you have it! Super simple, super sustainable. Don’t throw that make up in the bin or your local recycling programme (where they will put it in the bin anyway), find your nearest Origins and let them sort it for you whilst also getting a nice wee sample too!

Stay magic y’all.