Recycling Old and Empty Makeup

Recycling Old and Empty Makeup: Let’s Be Green

By Ashley Santoyo

For Suga Cosmetics



The overwhelming amount of plastic in the ocean and the popularity of single-use plastics makes it even more important that the use of plastic be stopped. More people are using reusable cups, bringing their own food to-go boxes, and recycling any plastic they do use. However, makeup continues to be packaged in some kind of plastic. And with the amount of products that companies make, that’s a lot of plastic being produced and added to the ever-growing pile of plastic that is contaminating our planet. So, when your product is all used up and ready to be thrown out, you should think twice about simply putting it in the trash or recycling bin. Here are some methods that are environmentally-friendly and easy to access. 


  1. TerraCycle (

TerraCycle is a recycling company that will take any plastic materials you have and turn them into something else. While they do not exclusively deal with makeup recycling, they will take your old lipsticks and forgotten eye shadow palettes. This company will also take any other non-cosmetic household items that you need recycled, which is pretty much a win-win situation. Send in your old lipsticks, but don’t forget to also send in the empty shampoo bottles.


  1. Origins 

Along with being a raved skincare brand, Origin also has a few makeup products under their belt. For the most part, their products come in glass bottles or cases. However, they created a system that allows customers to return their empty product bottles directly to an Origin store or counter and they will recycle to bottle for you. The empty bottles are sent back to one of their other shipping locations, to be sanitized and ready to be refilled with more product for someone else to buy. Your empty bottle can and will be reused! They also implemented a system that doesn’t bind container recycling to brand-specific product bottles. Bring in other empty foundation bottles and such (from any brand other than Origin) and they’ll still sent it to be reused and recycled! 


  1. Household Hazardous Waste 

You’re probably wondering: What about nail polish? Even those who aren’t fans of nail polish and don’t use it have old containers in their drawers, taking up space. I know I definitely do. There is such a thing as a Household Hazardous Waste facility that will take old or empty nail polish containers. To find one, check out the website under the Recycling Search tab, then type in ‘nail polish’ and your zip code. If you can’t get to one, another way to safely dispose of old nail polish tubes is to allow for the polish to dry, loosen the cap and leave it for at least 48 hours, then throw it out. This way the chemicals in the polish have been given a chance to evaporate and prevents them from finding their way into nearby groundwater. 


  1. Brand-Initiated Recycling Programs 

Just like with Origins, there are other brands who have created a system that encourages people to recycle their containers. For example, Lush is known for their following policy; Bring in five empty product containers and get a free product. This is a pretty sweet deal. Other brands motivate their customers to recycle by rewarding them with points towards free gifts and other goodies if they bring in empty containers to any of their counters. 


Information from: and 

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