How is the beauty industry going green?

How is the beauty industry going green?

How is the beauty industry going green?

The beauty industry may not have been the most environmentally friendly in the past, but some Scottish companies are attempting to change that.

Jo Childley is co-founder of the Beauty Kitchen brand, as is Re who works with other companies who want to explore using reusable packaging.

He wants to increase the reuse of packaging in an industry where 95% of containers are thrown away after one use.

At her Wishaw HQ she shows me empty beauty product containers that once held things like oils and moisturizers.

Customers can return their empties in a variety of ways, from delivery to a store to free return by mail.

The containers are first pre-washed in a sink with upward jets of water to remove any product residue and then loaded onto mandrels on racks, allowing many different types of containers to be inserted.

“It’s like a big luxury dishwasher,” says Ms. Chidley.

“The scrubber we have here is medical grade, so that means it’s used in things like hospitals or laboratories, it’s of a higher standard.

It uses water, heat and steam to be able to make things to the required standard.

Beauty containers waiting to be washed

Beauty containers waiting to be washed

Mrs Chidley, 50, studied chemistry at university.

The love for beauty and botany led her to experiment with the creation of her own products and to found Beauty Kitchen in 2014.

The company faced logistical challenges to get their reusable packaging up and running, which in turn led them to work with much larger companies, including Unilever.

Ms Chidley says they are going back to a time when reusable packaging was the norm.

“What we’ve done is look at the past, but we’ve made it contemporary,” she says.

Ms Chidley says they use technology to know exactly what was in the bottle or jar.

“It means when we bring him back here for cleaning we know what cleaning protocol he needs to follow.”

Jo Chidley

Jo Childley wants to reduce packaging by increasing reuse

In Aberdeen, Jenn Linton, the owner of Linton and Mac hair salon, says they now recycle pretty much everything.

This includes tubes of color, salon towels, and color-tainted hair foils.

In the past, films were difficult to recycle due to the risk of chemicals ruining an entire recycling batch. It is now separate and can be dealt with in the usual way.

But what usually attracts the most attention is human hair laundering. Once collected to be trashed, it is now collected and used.

Some customers also take away their hair clippings as a slug deterrent or compost for the garden.

This, together with the recycling bins in the foreground, means that sustainability comes out a lot in the mirror chat between stylist and client.

“I have a team of 30,” says Ms. Linton.

“If all those people can tell two to five people a day that we recycle and how easy it actually is, it really spreads the word and makes it less daunting for people.”

The salon charges a £2 ‘green fee’ to cover costs.

Hair boom

Linton and Mac partner with a specialist recycling service, the Green Salon Collective, which works with industry to keep waste from going to landfill or incinerated.

It has at least 10 different ways hair can be used, including wigs, as an alternative to wool, for composting and for art.

The hair is also woven into mats which can be used to absorb small oil spills on roads, gardens or workplaces.

It can also be made into hair boom where it is inserted into a sausage shaped barrier that can cope with larger spills.

In 2021 in Northern Ireland, the Green Salon Collective used a hair boom to protect the coast from oil. At the time they had collected around 400kg of hair and used around 30-45kg during the cleaning weekend.

“Unfortunately the hairdressing industry has traditionally been quite wasteful,” says Jess Rigg of Green Salon Collective.

He says most of that is because there have been no — until now — solutions for major waste streams like hair and color-tainted metal foils.

They work with other specialists who allow things to be recycled that once weren’t.

Since starting in 2020, they say they’ve noticed both clients and salons striving to be more sustainable and now have around 1,000 member salons in the UK and Ireland, what they describe as a “huge number”.

They believe they have doubled the amount of recycled hair foils from 1% to 2%.

“We still have a long way to go,” says Ms. Rigg.

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