Cosmetics are part of a multi-billion dollar global industry expected to reach $675 billion by 2020. As with most industries today, one of its fastest growing influences on consumer purchasing behavior are claims for sustainability. Sustainable sourcing of raw materials in cosmetics is gaining popularity, and many cosmetics manufacturers have launched “take-back” recycling initiatives, engaging customers with a solution for its difficult-to-recycle product s and packaging. The trend we are seeing is clear: recyclability and perceived sustainability are en vogue.
Though all technically recyclable, “difficult-to-recycle” waste streams are not typically profitable to recycle in our current infrastructure. Cosmetics are often packaged in containers that are hard to clean, and the packaging is often comprised of mixed materials (e.g. a pump-action bottle made with different plastic resins and a metal spring). With high collection, separation, and processing costs, cheap, linear disposal methods like landfilling and incineration are typically considered the most economically viable options. Even so, consumer demand for greater responsibility and more circular waste solutions is resonating across industries, cosmetics included.