‘Driving consumers to make sustainable choices’: L’Oréal unveils makeup recycling initiative in UK

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

L'Oréal has set up more than 1,000 drop-off makeup recycling points across the UK and will work with TerraCycle to recycle empties (Image: L'Oréal UK & Ireland)
L'Oréal has set up more than 1,000 drop-off makeup recycling points across the UK and will work with TerraCycle to recycle empties (Image: L'Oréal UK & Ireland)

Related tags L'oréal TerraCycle Makeup Recycling Sustainability circular beauty

L’Oréal UK & Ireland has partnered with TerraCycle to launch a nationwide makeup recycling campaign across the UK, enabling consumers to return empties of any coloured cosmetic brand at in-store drop-off points across the country.

Run under its flagship makeup brand Maybelline New York, the Make-Up, Not Make Waste​ campaign launched today and formed part of the L’Oréal’s wider For the Future 10-year sustainability plan​.

Drop-off makeup recycling stations across the UK

Working with private US recycling and waste management firm TerraCycle, L’Oréal had set up more than 1,000 drop-off locations across the UK where consumers could return any branded makeup empties to be recycled. The drop-off points could be found in select retailers - Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Superdrug and Boots - and accepted compacts and palettes, mascaras and liquid eyeliners, lip products, plastic tubes and bottles and other packaging such as caps, pumps and trigger sprays. The scheme didn’t accept makeup brushes, nail polishes or aerosols and L’Oréal suggested glass and cardboard continued to be recycled via regular systems.

“As a leader in beauty, we believe that we have a responsibility to lead the way in driving consumers to make sustainable choices,”​ said Vismay Sharma, country managing director of L’Oréal UK & Ireland.

“The ambitions of our L’Oréal For the Future programme are to empower those across our value chain – both consumers and suppliers – to reduce their own environmental footprints too,” ​Sharma said.

L’Oréal said 32.8 million Brits still struggled with the idea of recycling bathroom products and were looking to brands for guidance. In a study conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of L’Oréal in August this year, findings showed 40% of people in the UK wanted brands to help them make a difference environmentally and whilst 83% of makeup wearers considered themselves sustainably minded, only 32% of those surveyed had recycled makeup.

But could L’Oréal truly inspire a shift in consumer shopping habits? That was less certain, according to Lia Neophytou, consumer analyst at GlobalData.

Returning makeup is a ‘new behaviour for many’

“The success of L’Oréal’s initiative will rely on the firm’s ability to encourage consumers to take their empty products to stores in the first instance, which is a new behaviour for many,”​ Neophytou said.

Unlike L’Oréal’s existing Recycle and Be Rewarded​ scheme under the Kiehl’s brand – where consumers were rewarded with loyalty stamps for bringing in non-makeup beauty products to be recycled – this latest makeup recycling scheme under Maybelline pivoted on consumer desire to be more environmentally friendly.

Neophytou said that whilst there was a clear desire for recyclable or reusable packaging in the UK – 32% said this was more important to them following the COVID-19 pandemic – consumer desire might not be enough to kickstart this makeup recycling campaign into its full potential.

“Incentivising consumers with small discounts on their next beauty purchases upon participating in the scheme could bridge the initial gap between their existing behaviour and desired new beauty recycling habits going forward,”​ she said.

Chris Sherwin, director of green design firm reboot innovation, previously highlighted the difficulties with influencing consumer choice and product usage when analysing L’Oréal’s For the Future plan​ that outlined its ambition to take responsibility for its products during the use-phase.

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