Recycling

Can You Recycle Plastic Makeup Containers?

6 Mins read

Can you recycle plastic makeup containers? I’m very passionate about recycling.

After all, a lot of us share the planet with creatures that were here before us and will be here long after we’re gone, so we should strive to make it as beautiful for them as possible so that in the end, everyone is a winner.

Can You Recycle Plastic Makeup Containers?

Yes, you can recycle a lot of plastic cosmetic packaging.

However, not all types of plastics are recyclable.

Many popular cosmetic containers are recyclable, but most curbside recycling programs don’t accept them in their entirety.

How to Recycle Plastic Makeup Containers

Recycling plastic makeup containers is a little more complicated than simply tossing them in your recycling bin.

First, you’ll need to find a drop-off location that accepts your specific type of plastic and then make sure it’s clean and dry.

1. Find a drop-off location

First things first—you’ll need to know where you can recycle your plastic makeup containers.

There are many different types of plastic, so you need to do some research about which ones the drop-off center near you will accept.

2. Clean and dry your containers

Once you find out what types of plastic are accepted at the drop-off location nearest you, check the markings on your container to determine its type and rinse it out thoroughly with warm water before placing it in the recycling bin.

The last thing anyone wants is for an unrinsed mascara wand or lipstick lid to ruin an entire batch of recycled plastics!

Then let the container air-dry completely so no moisture remains inside when you recycle it.

3. Remove lids and caps

If there’s a cap or lid on top of the container, remove that too before putting it into the recycling bin.

It’s important not to recycle any extra pieces because they can cause issues while they’re being processed into new materials elsewhere down the line—and as we’ve already discussed, we’re trying our best not avoid contaminating recyclable items as much as possible!

How to Know if a Plastic Makeup Container Is Recyclable

The easiest way to tell if an item is recyclable is to check the number inside the recycling symbol.

This symbol is made up of three arrows forming a triangle, with the number in the center.

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If that number on your beauty product container falls between 1 and 7, then it’s probably recyclable.

Unfortunately, if you see a “8” inside the recycling logo, then it means that item is not recyclable.

To be clear here: The “8” doesn’t mean it can’t ever be recycled (unlike some plastics).

It just means that most facilities don’t accept this particular type of plastic when curbside pickup or drop-off occurs because they lack the technology to recycle it properly there.

How to Find a Drop-off for Cosmetic Packaging and Other Plastics

So, you’ve cleaned out your makeup bag and are ready to start recycling—but now you’re wondering how.

The good news is that there are several ways to responsibly recycle your plastic cosmetic containers.

1. Use the Terracycle website

If you prefer to drop off your plastics personally, use the Terracycle website or app to find a drop-off location near you that accepts cosmetic packaging.

These boxes generally don’t have any limit on the amount of waste they’ll accept; however, it’s helpful if you consolidate all the contents of one brand into one bag.

Participate in Terracycle’s Zero Waste Box program

Another option is to participate in Terracycle’s Zero Waste Box program.

You can sign up online or purchase a box at Target (only available in select stores).

These boxes are for smaller amounts of waste but come with prepaid shipping labels included so that you can mail them at no cost.

There are different box types for different kinds of plastic products (e.g., beauty care packaging), and each manufacturer may have its own requirements about what kind of container should be used when recycling specific items from their brand—for example, some brands require glass bottles whereas others allow metal aluminum tins as well as plastic tubes.

Can You Recycle Plastic Makeup Containers at Home?

You can!

The most common plastic makeup containers are made of a type of plastic that is accepted by many curbside recycling programs: plastic #5, also known as polypropylene (PP).

According to Sustainable America, PP has the potential to be recycled into items like car bumpers and storage bins.

Plastic #1 (PET), #2 (HDPE), and #4 (LDPE) are also accepted by most curbside recycling programs for their ability to be turned into recycled goods like trash cans and floor tiles.

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Unfortunately, plastics marked with a 6 or 7 can be tricky to recycle—most curbside recycling programs won’t accept them because they’re difficult to process.

Are the Lids to Plastic Makeup Containers Recyclable?

Most of the time, cosmetic caps (lids) are not recyclable.

This is because they are made from a different type of plastic than the container, and as a result, cannot be recycled with number 1 and 2 plastic containers.

In some cases, cosmetic caps can be recycled with other materials by removing them from the container first.

These lids are often too small to separate out in many recycling facilities, and even if they can be separated out, they’re often made from a different type of plastic than the containers themselves.

So while those tiny jars may seem like no big deal in your recycling bin or curbside program, if you don’t take a moment to remove the lids first and throw them away separately (or find another way to reuse them), then you could threaten your entire local recycling program for everyone.

And that’s something we all want to avoid!

How Many Types of Makeup Plastic Are Accepted for Recycling?

The answer to this question depends on your local recycling program.

Some programs accept all types of plastic, while others only accept specific types.

Most programs will accept plastic containers and bottles, but some may not take plastic tubes or plastics that contained chemicals.

They usually won’t take plastic bags.

If you have a recycling program that accepts all types of household plastics, you can recycle most of your makeup packaging (but not the makeup applicator itself).

However, if you want to make positive environmental impact by recycling your makeup packaging, it’s better to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills by reusing it instead of recycling it.

Where Can You Find the Numbers on My Makeup Plastic Products?

Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to go through your stash and determine whether or not your products are able to be recycled.

The number can be found on the base of the product, on a label, or on the lid.

The numbers on plastic products stand for different types of plastic (1-7).

To successfully recycle a makeup container you need to make sure it is one of three plastics: 2, 4 or 5.

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Are There Any Restrictions on What Types of Plastic Cosmetic Packaging Can Be Recycled?

The type of plastic your cosmetic containers are made of determines whether you can recycle them.

Most cosmetics and personal care products are packaged in one of two types of plastic:

  • Plastic that is not numbered (i.e., it will not have a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 on the bottom). These plastics cannot be recycled.
  • Plastic that has a number (1 through 7) on the bottom. These plastics can be recycled.

In addition to specifying which types of plastics can and cannot be recycled, most recycling facilities also require that containers are empty and have their labels removed before they’re tossed in the bin.

If your local facility doesn’t have these restrictions, check its website or call customer service to find out what they do accept before bringing your haul down to the recycling center.

How Much Waste From Landfills Could You Save if You Recycled All Your Plastic Makeup Containers Each Year?

Let’s say you have a fair amount of makeup:

Three lipsticks, a liquid liner, an eyeliner pencil, three lip glosses and an eyeshadow palette.

That adds up to eight containers. According to the EPA, the average person in the United States generates about 4.4 pounds of garbage per day—and about 30 percent of that garbage is made up of plastic packaging and products.

If all those 8 cosmetic containers were recyclable, you could make a pretty big difference by sending them off to be reused instead of letting them go into landfills along with the rest of your trash for each year (or about 1 pound or 0.45 kilograms).

What if every beauty product user recycled their empty makeup containers?

The total amount of waste from landfills would shrink drastically.

Final Thoughts

Plastic makeup container recycling can be an excellent way to get these largely single-use plastics out of landfills, where they can perform untold damage to the environment.

Used correctly, they can be made into any number of durable products, rather than being so quickly discarded.

As an added bonus, it’s a great way to get rid of makeup products you don’t want anymore!