Beauty in reducing plastic waste through recycling

LOOKING good can have a huge environmental cost to the planet, as the consumption of beauty and personal care products generates large amounts of plastic waste.

An overwhelming majority of products come in hard or shiny plastic packaging that is usually thrown away rather than recycled.

While its contents may only last a person a few weeks or months, packaging that ends up in the oceans or landfills where it slowly degrades, takes longer than the average human lifespan to break down.

But with single-use plastic bags and straws being the focus of local environmental campaigns, most tend to overlook equally harmful plastic waste in other aspects of daily life.

Beauty brand L’Occitane is looking to change that mindset with its pop-up beauty market in the atrium of the Gurney Paragon mall in Penang, which ends tomorrow.

In addition to presenting its range of natural and organic skincare products, the brand also highlights its Big Little Things program in partnership with Penang Green Council (PGC).

Running since 2019 at 25 participating stores, the initiative rewards people with freebies when they bring in empty beauty, skincare and haircare product packaging – known in the industry as “ empty” – for recycling.

For this event, the first 1,000 visitors who bring voids will receive a mini lip balm, while those who bring 10 will get a lucky shot for additional rewards.

Vacuums can be from any brand but must be clean and dry.

“This is because any remaining product content or residue will impede the plastic melting process and render the batch unsuitable for recycling,” explained Elida Wong, General Manager of L’Occitane Malaysia and Singapore Brand.

She said the brand has collected more than 735,000 empties in the region since the program began.

This equates to about 60 tons or the weight of two small propeller planes.

More importantly, recycling them meant reducing the need to produce new packaging, resulting in 36 tonnes less greenhouse gas emissions.

Some packaging has also been recycled into colorful flowers that liven up the event space.

Resembling roses, daisies, lavenders and wisteria, they provide visitors with a pretty backdrop.

Wong said the brand aims to have 100% of its bottles made from recycled plastics by 2025, while ensuring every store offers recycling services.

“As a company, we want to educate and engage consumers to create long-term positive environmental impacts through small daily actions.

“Most people don’t realize it, but they can easily use up 20-30 bottles or tubes of personal care products in a few months.

“Imagine how much waste we can avoid just by recycling,” she added.

Studies have shown that an average household uses around 55 kg of plastic per year.

There are around five trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans today and experts warn there could be more plastic than fish by 2050.

Penang Environment Committee Chairman Phee Boon Poh and PGC Managing Director Josephine Tan both hailed L’Occitane’s efforts to bring about positive change in the global beauty and beauty industry. booming personal care, which amounts to 500 billion US dollars (RM 2.1 tril) a year.

“It is comforting that a brand is responsible for its products not only when it sells them, but also after it has sold them.

“We hope this will raise awareness among consumers to consider the effects of their consumption on the planet. It’s because there’s no point in being beautiful if we end up making the Earth ugly,” Phee added.

Bryce K. Locke