Cosmetic packaging takes up 1/3 of all landfill space, with over 120 billion pieces of packaging created every year. This stunning fact is what motivated us to change the equation - to create the world’s first 100% zero waste crystal eyeshadow palettes (and zero waste cheek palettes, highlighters, lip crèmes, and our NEW Eyeshadow Singles).
But what about all the other cosmetic packaging out there – most of which is made to be landfilled? How can we as beauty buyers lessen the landfill load?
Well, the first most sustainable thing we can do is change our buying habits:
- Buy fewer products (and choose quality, long-lasting products that multitask)
- Choose sustainably packaged products wherever possible
And the next best thing we can do: recycle. Keep reading for facts and tips to help you navigate the world of beauty recycling!
1. Mixed materials are not recyclable
The average palette, compact, or case is created by layering and fusing together multiple materials like plastic, paper, and metal. While some of these individual materials are recyclable on their own, when combined, they become impossible to recycle.
Why? Different companies collect each raw material (metal, plastic, paper, etc.), and it’s impossible to separate the layered materials without highly specialized machinery that most facilities don’t have. So, these items go straight to the landfill.
Your most sustainable option: choose single-material packaging wherever you can.
2. Separate different materials
Even if all individual components of an item are recyclable, unless they're taken apart before reaching the recycling facility, that item winds up in the landfill. For example, all our products are 100% recyclable but still have to be disassembled before recycling. More on that below!
To avoid adding to the cosmetic trash pile, separate components down to their recyclable parts.
3. Clean & dry your recyclables
The companies that buy your recyclables won’t accept dirty or contaminated materials – they must be 95% uncontaminated to actually be repurposed. To keep your empties out of the landfill, wash and dry everything thoroughly before tossing it in the bin.
4. Mirrors are not recyclable
Mirrors are made by applying a non-recyclable reflective coating to glass. This coating makes the glass nearly impossible to recycle.
And let’s be real – you’re probably applying your makeup in front of your own mirror anyways! It’s another addition we could live without for more sustainable packaging.
5. Magnets are never recyclable and are harmful to the environment
Magnets are the bane of beauty sustainability. While they’re convenient to keep products closed, they’re also incredibly hazardous to the environment and local communities. Plus, they’re never recyclable.
Magnets are made with ‘Rare Earth’ elements and are processed with harsh carcinogenic toxins. These harmful chemicals often wind up in local waterways, endangering people, wildlife, and polluting the environment.
What we use to hold our palettes shut: an elastic. And after you’re done with it, reuse it as a hair tie! We know we’re always looking for an extra one.
6. Black and colored plastics are never recyclable
Because the conveyor belts in recycling facilities are black, the sensors can’t recognize and isolate black or dark-colored plastic. So, all dark-plastic pieces are landfilled from the get-go.
When you can’t avoid buying plastic, choose recyclable clear and white plastics. More on which plastics are recyclable down below!
7. Applicators are rarely recyclable
Most applicators like lip gloss and mascara wands are made from unrecyclable mixed materials. In other words, most go straight to the landfill once empty. For less waste, either choose products without applicators or pick those with recyclable applicators!
The ĀTHR Beauty Radiant Ruby Lip Crème (sold out, but coming back soon) applicator is 100% recyclable once you snip off and discard the small tip.
8. Pumps are rarely recyclable
Most cosmetic pumps are made with multiple varieties of plastic, which are nearly impossible to separate without specialized industrial equipment. Another one of those oh-so-convenient, yet deeply wasteful beauty items. #justsayno
9. Zamac is unrecyclable
Zamac is a blend of metal alloys that’s often used in refillable cosmetic packaging. Zamac is entirely unrecyclable, and while refillable is definitely preferable to non-refillable, these products still land in the landfill once they’re worn out. Something to think about when shopping sustainable!
10. Not all plastics are recyclable - shop by numbers
All plastics are labeled with a number from 1-7, usually on the bottom of the container. These numbers tell you that’s item’s recyclability. Look for the numbers and try to choose easily recyclable options when you can’t avoid buying plastic altogether:
Always Recyclable: #1 PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate), #2 HDPE (High density Polyethylene)
Not Recyclable: #3 PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), #4 LDPE (Low-density Polyethylene), #6 PS (Polystyrene), #7 (Other)
Sometimes Recyclable: #5 PP (Polypropylene)
Every city has their own unique recycling program that accepts different materials - call your local program to see what they will and won’t accept.
11. Recycling plants are closing all over the country
Now that you know the ins and outs of recycling, there’s just one more hurdle. Over 300 recycling plants have closed in the US since March last year, and as a result, many recyclables are being incinerated instead. Some areas have no access to reliable recycling, and the current pandemic is not helping the situation.
12. Use terracycle for areas without access to recycling
The solution for recycling-deprived areas: Terracycle, a company that specializes in reusing, repurposing, or recycling difficult-to-recycle items.
We offer the Terracycle service free to our customers even though all ĀTHR Beauty products are easily recyclable in your standard recycling bin. Why? We want to make sure all our products stay out of the landfill – whether you live near recycling facilities or not!
You can also use Terracycle at home! Either purchase one of their zero-waste boxes, mail your items directly to them, or find a drop-off location near you.
HOW IT WORKS
- Request your free Terracycle recycling envelope for your ĀTHR Beauty packaging. You’ll fill out this order form, and your envelope will arrive via USPS within 1-2 weeks.
- Once you receive your envelope, remove the prepaid return label from inside your envelope. Cover your address with the label.
- Collect and fill the envelope with all ĀTHR Beauty packaging. This includes outer packaging, inner packaging, and your tarot card if you’re finished with it.
- Seal and return via USPS.
How to Recycle ĀTHR Beauty Products At Home
If you have access to standard recycling bins (and there are reliable recycling facilities nearby), you can easily recycle your ĀTHR Beauty products at home! Keep reading for instructions on how to recycle each product in our lineup:
OUR EYESHADOW PALETTES & CRYSTAL CHARGED CHEEK PALETTES
- Use up all your shades until you reach the shiny bottom of the pans.
- Remove the pans and wash before placing them in the recycling bin.
- Put the pans, paper palette, outer box, and tarot card (unless you’re collecting them) into your recycling bin. Thank it for entering your life and wish it #goodvibesonly in its next iteration!
- Snip off the elastic and reuse it as a hair tie.
OUR SUPERNOVA CRUSHED DIAMOND HIGHLIGHTERS
- Once you reach the bottom of the pan, remove the aluminum pan from the paper packaging.
- Rinse out the pan and dry it off.
- Put the paper package, the outer box, and the tarot card (unless you’re collecting them) into your recycling bin.
- Congratulations, you’ve just saved one more product from the landfill!
OUR RADIANT RUBY LIP CREMES
Our Radiant Ruby Lip Crème is the first 100% recycled plastic liquid lip component that's also 100% recyclable! By using 100% PCR recycled plastic, we create 25% less carbon emissions than virgin plastic. How to recycle the packaging:
- When your lip crème is all gone, rinse out the tube well. Or invest in a small spatula like The Spatty Daddy to get out every last drop!
- Snip off and discard the small applicator tip.
- Recycle the rest of your lip crème packaging including the outer box.
OUR NEW EYESHADOW SINGLES
In case you haven’t heard, our NEW highly requested single-pan crystal shadows have arrived! Three stunningly shimmery, crystal-infused shadows in super-wearable, yet statement-making hero shades. Buy them individually or treat yourself to all three in our Eyeshadow Trio Bundle!
These single shades mean LESS packaging and NO waste from shades you may not wear – a win-win for more sustainability in beauty. Formulated with sustainably sourced, skin-loving ingredients like Organic Rosehip Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Moringa Seed Oil, and Organic Prickly Pear Oil so your shadows can double as a skin savior – sustainability at its finest.
A warm yellow gold antique metallic shade that gleams like melted gold glistening in the sunlight. Infused with Topaz to release aging tension from the face and align your spirit with creativity and abundance.
A metallic rose gold with soft pink undertones – it’s like rosé at dusk with the glimmering sun reflecting off the water. Infused with amethyst and citrine for a skin soothing glow, and the purification of negativity from your life.
A sunset-inspired warm peach metallic hue with golden undertones from our Summer Solstice Palette. Infused with topaz to illuminate your skin and recharge your spirit, creating more room for high-vibe energies of abundance and creation.
HOW TO RECYCLE YOUR EYESHADOW SINGLES PACKAGING:
- Once you reach the bottom of the pan, remove the aluminum pan from the paper packaging.
- Rinse out the recycled aluminum pan and dry it off.
- Put the paper package and pan in the recycling bin.
- Voila – zero waste beauty!
Thanks for doing your part to ‘clean up’ the beauty industry’s impact on our planet!
- ĀTHR Beauty xo