While the cosmetics industry is working towards reducing or removing unnecessary packaging, and the adoption of reuse and refill models where appropriate, the challenge of certain types of cosmetic packaging not being recycled must be addressed,” said CTPA [1] in a call to action about packaging waste. The organisation considers that, as far as cosmetic packaging is concerned, the ultimate goal of the industry should be that none ends up as waste.

To discuss the issue, CTPA held a stakeholder roundtable on Monday 15 November 2021. The meeting was attended by industry representatives, Resources and Waste Minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Jo Churchill, Defra officials, representatives from WRAP UK, a charity which works with governments, businesses and individuals to promote sustainability, OPRL, an NGO that aims to encourage packaging reuse and material recycling, the Flexible Plastic Fund and Terracycle.

Industry-wide takeback schemes for packaging

Take-back schemes, refill and reuse systems and dedicated collection points emerged as key topics during the discussion. The CTPA recognised that these models should exist on a larger, industry-wide scale to increase awareness and recover more packaging.

As an industry we have to recognise that a lot of our packaging is not recycled, so the onus is on us to be responsible and develop solutions to reduce the amount of waste. Take-back schemes could be a major step in helping to achieve this and there was huge appetite at the roundtable to drive this forward,” said Dr Emma Meredith, Director-General of CTPA.

Partnership with WRAP

In light of the conclusions made at the roundtable, the CTPA joined forces with the Recycle Now team at WRAP to add information on how to recycle cosmetics packaging to its Recycling Locator tool. The digital platform helps consumers to locate nearby recycling stations in order to dispose of their beauty items in the most effective way. The aim is to increase the number of cosmetic brands that are highlighting this opportunity to their consumers.

For citizens any recycling scheme needs to be easy to use, they need to be motivated to use it and they need to know where to recycle. We are very pleased to be supporting citizens to do this through our Recycling Locator and working with the CTPA to increase awareness of the take back schemes currently available,” said Sarah Clayton, Head of Citizen Behaviour Change at WRAP UK.

The Recycling Locator Tool is already up and running with brands adding the locations for their schemes.

However, Clayton highlighted that instore take back schemes can only go so far in helping to avoid packaging going to landfill. “Reuse and refill options, eliminating packaging where it is not necessary as well as more packaging that uses widely recyclable materials are all key steps that need further future investigation in order to move towards a sustainable circular economy,” she added.

Resources and Waste Minister at Defra, Jo Churchill, meanwhile, said that: “All sectors of the economy are now changing how they design their products and I am looking forward to the cosmetics industry leading the way and driving further innovation in their ambition to cut waste.