Recycling Cosmetics and Perfume Bottles

Written by Leanna Serras

Cosmetic products can be found in almost every home, regardless of the gender or age of the people who live there. While the obvious items include beautifying products for the face and hands such as lipstick, eyeshadow, and nail polish, cosmetics also include items such as facial wash, moisturizers, and shampoos. Additionally, deodorants and even perfumes and colognes fall under the umbrella of cosmetics. Because there's such a wide range of these products that are sold, used, and thrown away on a daily basis, the environmental impact of cosmetics can be great. Because of this, it's important to understand how to properly dispose of empty bottles and any other cosmetic packaging that's no longer needed.

When cosmetics are applied, they are eventually washed down the drain, either in the shower or bathroom sink. The packaging for these items is generally disposable, which means most people throw them away after the product is used up or no longer needed. Because many cosmetic items, such as shampoo, are a necessity, a household can dispose of a significant amount of plastic or glass bottles, tubes, and containers. When cosmetic packaging such as a fragrance bottle is thrown away, it makes its way to bodies of water or to landfills, where it takes up space alongside the other discarded trash. These containers often contain residual amounts of the products they once held, and these substances can then make their way into the environment by leaching into the soil, the groundwater, and eventually rivers and oceans. These chemicals may also endanger wildlife that inadvertently comes into contact with them.

Recycling is instrumental when it comes to reducing the environmental impact associated with perfume bottles and cosmetics packaging in general. It can, however, be complicated, as not all cosmetic products can be thrown into a recycle bin. Plastic bottles for products such as shampoo and conditioner can be thrown into the recycle bin if they are marked as recyclable, but other items may not be acceptable if they still contain some of the product. Nail polish, for example, contains chemicals that can be toxic to the environment, and it should not be thrown into a home's recycling bin or tossed into the garbage. Perfume bottles also contain ingredients that should not go into the trash or recycle bins. In addition, glass bottles that are free of all perfume may not be recyclable due to the type of glass they are made from. An easy way to determine whether a package or bottle can be recycled is to check your municipality's website. They will typically have a page on recycling that outlines what can and cannot be recycled.

Fortunately, when disposing of used or empty cosmetics, particularly beauty products, people have several other options to consider. The first is to contact the manufacturer or return them to the place of purchase. Some companies have recycling programs and will accept their used bottles and containers. Depending on the company, they may offer incentives such as discounts or free products to customers who use these programs. Certain organizations are set up to take donations of specific items that are unused or only minimally used. Typically, organizations that accept makeup or hygiene products require donations that have not been opened, while some may take partially used bottles of perfume. Because guidelines vary, it is important to read the requirements carefully before sending a cosmetics donation.

If one is unable to find a recycling program to take back their used bottles, consider repurposing or reusing them. Empty perfume bottles, for example, should never be thrown away. With a little imagination or creativity, they can be put to new use. After they've been thoroughly rinsed of any residual perfume, consider turning bottles into vases by simply removing the pump and adding a few colorful and appropriately sized flowers. Another way to reuse the bottles without the pump is to turn them into scent diffusers. To do that, add a combination of a neutral oil oil with a favorite essential oil to the bottle. After the oils have been combined, place four to six diffuser reeds into the oil, making sure to flip them weekly. To reuse the entire perfume bottle, including the sprayer, consider adding a homemade air freshener and using it to spritz away unpleasant odors when needed. These options make recycling one's empty bottles easy and enjoyable.

Environmental Impact

Recycling Glass and Perfume Bottles

Recycling Plastic

Donating Unwanted Items