M&S launches beauty packaging recycling scheme

Marks & Spencer has announced its partnership with beauty recycling experts, HANDLE, to launch a Beauty Takeback Scheme in over 40 stores across the UK. 

The scheme will enable hard to recycle beauty packaging materials and components that commonly end up in landfill to be recycled and turned into new packaging and products.

Packaging is one of the biggest sustainability challenges facing the beauty industry; 120 billion units of packaging are produced globally every year, however, recycling rate estimates range from 9-50% in the UK due to certain packaging types specific to beauty not being processed through the infrastructure available in mainstream recycling. 

HANDLE works with retailers, brands and manufacturers to plug these gaps and seek better end of life options for beauty packaging such as lids, tubes, pumps. sachets and pipettes that often fall out of mainstream municipal recycling.

From this month, M&S customers will be able to return any form of plastic or aluminium beauty packaging – from bottles and tubes to caps, pumps, and tubs – from any retailer, by dropping their used beauty packaging into dedicated boxes located within the store’s beauty section. 

The initiative is estimated to collect over two tonnes of empty beauty packaging from participating, within the first 12 months. The HANDLE programme is designed to build from a take back and recycling toward a circular system for M&S beauty where new products and packaging are created from the materials collected.

Carmel McQuaid, Head of ESG at M&S, commented: “We’re passionate about creating simple solutions that help our customers live lower carbon lives. Plastic is one of the biggest challenges facing the beauty industry and whilst there is still lots more to do, we hope this scheme encourages customers to recycle their beauty empties to give them a second life and reduce the amount of packaging that goes to landfill. 

“Alongside our other schemes, including Shwopping and plastic takeback, it’s one of the many ways we’re driving the circular economy on our roadmap to net zero.”

Tom Murgatroyd, Co-Founder of Handle Recycling, commented: “We are thrilled to announce our partnership with M&S, our mission is to reduce the environmental impact of Beauty Packaging and this partnership helps to elevate awareness and action toward this mission to the next level. 

“We seek partners who wish to engage in complex issues and that have talented and committed teams to help and support the goals they set out.  

“We aim to support the M&S Plan A initiative with projects that promote reuse and circularity, as both are challenging yet critical aspirations for us all to attain for the sake our planet and future generations”.

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