How to recycle beauty containers in Singapore: A step-by-step eco guide to repurposing plastic, glass, and more
Recycling in itself is pretty self-explanatory. Step one: sort your waste into plastic, paper, glass, or metal. Step two: dump accordingly at the numerous recycling bins found island-wide. Step three: pat yourself on the back for a job well done *snort*. Sounds easy enough — unless what you're throwing out is something from the beauty industry.
There is a lot more that goes into your typical eyeshadow palette or mascara than pigment and plastic. Glass bottle foundations often come equipped with plastic pumps, mirrors are encased within powder compacts made of metal... you get the idea. The reality of it is most beauty containers comprises a hodgepodge of materials, which makes recycling them an effort and a half. It's tricky — but not impossible, to be an eco-minded beauty junkie. We detail the do's, don'ts, and dirt behind repurposing, below.
Clean all containers thoroughly before recycling
Failure to do so could lead to contamination of other recyclables, which may cause the whole lot to be taken to the incineration plant. Yes, this means your unwashed banana face mask could, unwittingly, reduce a flood of perfectly good recyclables to ash. So be sure to scrub those containers squeaky clean.
Assess if products are made of multi-materials
Evaluate all products as carefully as you did at the point of purchase. Is it emblazoned with the recycling-friendly logo? Is it made from a variety of plastics and glass? If yes, can it be taken apart to be recycled component by component? Take this all into consideration before dropping your stash into the recycling bin. A good rule of thumb is that most products containing mirrors are usually not suitable for recycling, as they contain a reflective coating painted at the back that makes it impossible to recycle. Feeling unsure? Leave it up to the professionals and...
Participate in a recycling drive
Singapore has one: Tzu Chi Recycling Day. Run by professionals with an expert understanding of the recycling process, items are carefully sorted and separated to ensure that everything is properly recycled. Collections points are located island-wide, then picked up every second Sunday of the month.
Recycle at retail stores
Failing that, more and more beauty brands offer recycling programmes of their own. Lush, for instance, accepts empties of their products and rewards users with a free face mask in return. Innisfree, Kiehl's, and M.A.C. Cosmetics are in on this too, whereas Origins accepts bottles and tubs from any brand. Beauty with a conscience? We're all for it.
Donate it to the rag-and-bone man
Yes, we're talking about your resident karung guni man. As it turns out, they don't just accept papers and cans, but also other goods that can be sold to waste recycling companies and secondhand dealers.