Cosmetics giant L’Oreal is introducing make-up recycling bins across 1,000 UK stores in an environmental push.
Its Maybelline brand and recycling firm TerraCycle will install the recycling points in branches of Tesco, Boots, Sainsbury’s and Superdrug.
L’Oreal’s UK boss said the firm wants to “lead the way” in creating beauty recycling habits.
But Greenpeace said without reducing single-use plastic production, firms “cannot claim they are doing enough”.
From Thursday, consumers can drop off empty make-up products from any brand at the recycling bins in participating Tesco and Superdrug stores, which can be found online.
Boots and Sainsbury’s will follow at the end of September.
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Compacts, eyeshadow palettes, foundation or concealer tubes, mascara, eyeliner and lip products will be accepted, although make-up brushes, nail polish and aerosols will not.
The used items will be collected from the shops, sorted, cleaned and recycled into plastic pellets, which can be used to make other products, such as outdoor furniture.
Chains such as The Body Shop and skincare specialist Kiehl’s – also owned by L’Oreal – already offer customers rewards for returning empty products to stores to be recycled.
Vismay Sharma, country manager of L’Oreal UK and Ireland, told the BBC that the firm had the “ability to make impact at real scale”.
Nearly half of make-up wearers did not know that recycling beauty products was possible, according to a recent survey of more than 1,000 consumers by Maybelline.
Asked what differentiates Maybelline and TerraCycle’s new “Make-up Not Make Waste” scheme from other similar ones, Stephen Clarke, head of communications at TerraCycle, said that the number of stores participating meant it would be easier for consumers to recycle their beauty buys.
He also said the firm can recycle mixed materials, such as compacts with mirrors, as well as beauty items with pumps and triggers, which local councils won’t necessarily do.
‘Damaging our planet’
However, environmental campaign group Greenpeace said that “recycling will only ever get us so far”.
Will McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace UK, said: “Given the almost daily torrent of research revealing the extent to which plastic pollution is damaging our planet, it’s frustrating to see a major plastic producer like the make-up industry fail to commit to reduce its overall plastic footprint.
“Without action plans to move towards reusable packaging and reduce single-use plastic production, companies cannot claim they are doing enough.”
More than 120 billion units of packaging are produced globally every year by the cosmetics industry alone, according to the Zero Waste Week campaign.
L’Oreal told the BBC that its global consumption of plastic totalled 137,000 tonnes in 2019.
The cosmetics firm has pledged that 100% of its plastic packaging will be refillable, reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
Mr Sharma also said that the firm was dedicating €50m (£45.4m) to investing in recycling or plastic waste-related projects.