Cosmetic brands urged to rethink packaging recyclability

Plastics Recycling Charity RECOUP has followed up its ‘Recyclability by Design’ report series with a new set of case studies, focused on the cosmetic and beauty industry.

The report, now available for public viewing, investigates the current recyclability of several categories of bathroom goods, including dental care, personal hygiene, hair care, skin care, sun care, hair removal, nail care and cosmetic products.

The industry, valued at £33bn in the UK, lacks consistent messaging on product recycling. While many citizens are now used to considering the recyclability of plastic kitchen products, this often gets lost in beauty and personal care regimes. However, with all UK Local Authorities collecting bottles at the kerbside, RECOUP believes there is scope to improve recycling rates of HDPE, PP and PET bathroom products through optimised design and clear consumer guidance, noting that this responsibility rests on the shoulders of cosmetic and hygiene brands.

In the report, RECOUP highlights several reasons why beauty products may fail to make it through sorting systems, demonstrating the issues with the sorting of small items and why size dictates recyclability regardless of polymer type. Label coverage is identified as an additional barrier to recyclability, with the report noting that products should not include more than a 40 per cent coverage to ensure they are NIR detected. The report also highlights the issues with multi-polymer and multi-material challenges.