As a beauty editor, I inevitably collect a lot of work products, and every few months I have to throw out a bunch of empty or used products. As someone who regularly recycles at home, I’m actively trying to break through

“greenwashing” and find environmentally friendly waste disposal options.

When it comes to beauty products, there are some obvious and not-so-obvious hurdles to overcome when it comes to recycling. “Beauty packaging often contains mixed materials (metal, plastic, glass) that are not accepted in

municipal curbside recycling bins,” said Gigi Ganatra, vice president of corporate affairs at Nordstrom.

Still, many products you think (or just hope) can be recycled end up in the recycling bin—a practice known as "wish recycling" that can do more harm than good. In total, more than 120 billion cosmetic packaging is produced

every year, of which less than 10% is ultimately recycled (a statistic I repeat often in my research). Now, many brands are taking steps to increase that number and reduce the amount of cosmetic packaging that ends up in lan

dfill. This also provides consumers with more sustainable solutions and recycling options.

Below I’ll tell you all about recycling beauty products and show you some of the procedures I find most helpful in giving my empty products a second life. Which cosmetic packaging is recyclable? With all the tubes, pumps, bot

tles and cans out there, the question "What is actually recyclable?" is a perfectly legitimate question - unfortunately there is no clear answer. Different cities have different rules when it comes to recycling. “Municipal re

cycling facilities (MRFs) are independent businesses and therefore have different sorting and processing capabilities,” explained Pact Project Director Carly Snider. “The type of packaging or materials that may be accepted in

one city may not be accepted in another, making it difficult for consumers to decide what to do with their beauty packaging.”

Additionally, cosmetics companies may mislead consumers into thinking that non-recyclable materials are recyclable. "The tracking arrow (the recycling triangle we all know) is a symbol that indicates packaging is recyclable,"

Snyder said. “Unfortunately, this is not the case as beauty players can use it on any packaging – even if it is not recyclable.” It's a larger problem that starts long before mislabeled products reach consumers and the Enviro

nmental Protection Agency has pushed to eliminate the use of widely recognized recycling symbols on plastics that are not actually recyclable.

Additionally, California recently passed the Truth in Recycling Act, which sets out statewide recyclability standards and requires companies to accurately label recyclable materials.

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