Close the Loop Limited, in conjunction with Myer, is conducting a trial to recycle and reuse cosmetics packaging. Along with guidance from peak industry body, Accord, the trial will research new ways of recycling cosmetics to reduce the estimated 5,000-11,500 tonnes of cosmetic packaging from across the sector that is currently being landfilled. This trial project received grant funding from the Australian Government’s National Product Stewardship Investment Fund.
Consumers will be able to take their used cosmetic items from any brand to collection points in 12 participating Myer stores.
The trial will run to 16 September 2022 and inform the feasibility of any future ongoing product stewardship schemes for cosmetics. Products collected during the program will be sorted into eight categories and processed by Close the Loop to be recycled or remanufactured into new products.
Hard and soft plastics will be shredded and used in Close the Loop’s TonerPlas, an asphalt additive which uses waste plastics and toner from old printer cartridges to create roads that last longer and require less maintenance than traditional asphalt. The plastics will also be used in the company’s Resin8 concrete additive. Metals will be separated and sent to a metals recycling facility and glass will be crushed for use as a sand replacement in building materials for the construction industry.
Materials that cannot be processed will be used to fire a low-carbon emissions cement kiln, ensuring that no products collected will be sent to landfill.
This program will be a key example of the Australian Government’s updated Australian product stewardship framework to encourage or require manufacturers, importers, distributors, designers and others to take responsibility for products over their lifecycle.
“Cosmetics packaging is traditionally a complex waste stream – often including plastics, glass, metals, foils, rubber, natural fibres, mirrors, foam, paper and residual products,” said CEO of Close the Loop Group, Joe Foster. “This Australian Government, industry, and sector partnership can pave the way for the global cosmetics industry to become much more sustainable. It is a great example of what can be achieved when all stakeholders work together to enable end-of-life products to be efficiently collected, and then recycled or remanufactured into other products – a true circular economy in action.
“The launch of the trial is very timely given the Australian Government’s second round of plastics export bans has just come into effect. The ban means it is now illegal for companies and organisations in Australia to export any mixed waste plastics. It is expected to result in even more recyclable materials being sent to landfill every year unless product stewardship and industry-led initiatives like this one are quickly implemented.”
Participating locations can be found here or through the Recycle Mate app by photographing a cosmetic item, or typing in the item name. The Australian Government funded Recycle Mate app helps de-mystify what can and can’t be recycled through a database of local council waste and recycling services.