What Cosmetic Packaging Is Recyclable?

7 Mins read

Many cosmetics have pretty packaging?

How many of us have a drawer full of half squeezed out tubes and bottle caps after opening?

And how many of us actually take the time to remove the labels and send them off for recycling?

Well, let’s find out which cosmetic packaging is recyclable!

We’ll have a go at finding out which packaging is accepted for recycling schemes.

What Cosmetic Packaging Is Recyclable?

1. Glass

Did you know that glass is always recyclable?

That’s right, no matter if it’s brown or green or clear, you can recycle your empty glass containers.

In fact, most curbside recycling programs accept glass bottles and jars as part of their household collection.

Glass is made from readily-available domestic materials, such as sand, soda ash, limestone and “cullet,” the industry term for furnace-ready recycled glass.

The use of cullet reduces emissions and energy consumption in comparison to manufacturing with raw materials.

For example:

  • Manufacturing new glass products from 100% recycled glass require 40% less energy than manufacturing them from virgin materials.
  • Every metric ton (1,000 kilograms) of waste glass recycled into new items saves 315 kilograms (694 pounds) of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere during the creation of new glass products – which means there is less harmful greenhouse gas in our environment!

Glass is actually the only material that can be infinitely recycled without any loss in purity or quality.

This means that recycling all your old wine bottles doesn’t just help save space at landfills; it helps create a cleaner world we want to live in!

2. Metal

Metals are some of the easiest materials to recycle; however, not every type of metal can be recycled.

For example, steel and copper are more difficult to recycle than aluminium or tin.

The reason for this is because aluminium and tin are easier to melt down into base materials from which new products can be made.

It’s important that you check with your local recycling company to see what types of metals they accept, because it varies by location.

3. Most plastics

Most plastics are widely recyclable, so don’t feel like you have to go through your trash to separate out the guilty parties.

The number of a plastic item is usually stamped on the back and will be one of seven types: 1 (PET), 2 (HDPE), 3 (PVC), 4 (LDPE), 5 (PP), 6 (PS) and 7 (other).

The ones most commonly used in cosmetic packaging are all acceptably recyclable, with the exception of #7—which can sometimes be recycled but varies by provider.

One word of caution: when recycling plastic, make sure it’s been washed first.

Even if you’re just emptying an eyeshadow palette or cleaning out a makeup bag, the residue left inside can contaminate the entire batch.

Also do not throw away caps—just remove them from their bottles and recycle them separately.

SEE ALSO:  Can You Recycle Cover FX Products?

4. Paper and cardboard

Paper and cardboard are both recyclable! Most paper and cardboard can be recycled at home.

Make sure that you flattened the cardboard of your product before recycling it, this way the company that picks up your recycling will have an easier time recycling the material.

Some of the products you already use can be made from recycled paper or cardboard.

Paper and cardboard need to be collected separately since they are different materials.

But once they are collected, paper is made into new paper and cardboard is made into new boxes.

Keeping these materials out of landfills saves energy since we don’t have to make as much virgin material!

Why Are Plastics Used in Cosmetic Packaging?

Plastics are used in cosmetic packaging for a number of reasons. For one, they’re cheap.

Also, plastics are lightweight and durable, making them easy to transport and store.

On top of that, they can be molded into a variety of shapes, which makes them appealing to cosmetics companies who want all their products packaged identically.

Plastics are also easy to clean and sterilize before production takes place, as well as waterproof (which is great for safety reasons).

All of this makes plastic the perfect material for cosmetic packaging like shampoo bottles or lip gloss containers.

Keep in mind that there is one drawback: plastic is not the most environmentally friendly material out there.

What Is the Most Common Kind of Plastic Used in Cosmetic Packaging?

In most cases, the most common type of plastic used in cosmetic packaging is polypropylene (PP). Here’s a quick overview:

1. Polypropylene (PP)

A plastic material that can withstand high temperatures and is known for being easy to mold.

It’s made from propene and a catalyst, such as titanium chloride.

PP is generally safe and has even been approved by the FDA as an approved food additive.

However, it’s not recyclable with other plastics because of its low melting temperature.

2. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

A type of polyester created by combining ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid.

This type of plastic is often used to make water bottles or food containers, but you might also find it in certain cosmetic products like lip balm tubes or mascara wands.

PET bottles are typically discarded because they have no practical use after being emptied out; however some companies have begun reusing them as storage containers for things like pens or paper clips!


PETE isn’t commonly recycled due to its low melting point which makes it difficult to process into new materials such as textiles like cotton fibers since these would melt at higher temperatures than what PETE melts at below 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82 Celsius).

It can be recycled if cleaned properly before disposal though so if you’re interested then look up how best to clean your bottle before tossing it out!

SEE ALSO:  Can You Recycle Nude by Nature Products?

What Types of Glass Containers Are Used in Cosmetics?

The more you know about the environment and how to break down materials, the better.

There’s a lot of cosmetic packaging that can be recycled—but being familiar with the kinds of packaging that are recyclable is useful, especially if you’re getting into environmental issues or just want to become more environmentally conscious.

Not all cosmetics are made from glass—glass containers are used in some cosmetic products because they’re heavy and contain less plastic than light-weight plastics, but other cosmetics contain materials such as milk cartons and styrofoam.

What Types of Beauty Packaging Are Not Recyclable in My Curbside Bin or Neighborhood Recycling Drop-off Site?

The following types of beauty product packaging are not recyclable in your curbside program or neighborhood recycling drop-off center:

  • Compostable plastics

even if they have a PLA (polylactic acid) or bioplastic code on the bottom.

These are not designed to be recycled (or composted) by your city’s curbside program, although they can be taken to some companies that specialize in composting organic waste.

  • Hard plastics with a resin code other than 1, 2, 4 or 5

This includes hard plastics like foam cups and clamshells that contain food residue.

  • Bio-based plastics made from corn starch or sugar cane

Although bio-based materials are sustainable and renewable resources, they cannot be processed by most recycling facilities so should be thrown away instead of being placed in the recycling bin (unless you have a special collection for them).

Are There Any Reusable or Refillable Options for Cosmetics and Beauty Products?

Reusable containers are great because they eliminate the need to throw away packaging, while refills and concentrated products reduce the amount of waste generated by a product.

Both options are also better for the environment because they result in less shipping materials created per product sold.

Some brands sell reusable containers that can be filled with bulk beauty products.

For example, Lush sells a collection of reusable aluminum bottles and pots that can be taken to any Lush location for refilling.

Many zero-waste stores also sell their own selections of refillable makeup and beauty products.

Refillable containers are not just for cosmetics—they can be used to make your own cleaning products as well!

You can use empty packaging from common household cleaners to store homemade cleaning recipes instead of throwing them out or recycling them.

This helps save money on new bottles while repurposing something you already have at home!

Is There a Tool to Find Local Recycling Centers That Accept Cosmetics?

So, you’re ready to clean out your beauty cabinet and recycle your packaging.

It’s a great idea! While the options for recycling cosmetic packaging are still limited, it is possible to recycle some types of cosmetics.

SEE ALSO:  Can You Recycle By Terry Products?

Below, we’ll talk about what types of cosmetics can be recycled and how to find places that accept them near you.

Check Local Recycling Centers

For best results, use our recycling locator site at to search for local recycling centers that accept plastic cosmetic containers.

It may also be helpful to call your waste hauler or local recycling agency if you aren’t able to find a center near you on Earth911’s locator site.

Check the Package

If a particular product can’t be recycled in your area, look at its packaging for a recycling symbol and material descriptor (usually it will say something like HDPE or PP).

You’ll want to find out if it’s made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), or polypropylene (PP).

These are the three most common materials found in cosmetic packaging and the three most likely plastics accepted by curbside programs across the country.

Are Black Plastic Boxes From Makeup Sets Recyclable?

Yes, black plastic boxes from makeup sets are recyclable—but it depends on where you live.

Not all recycling programs accept black plastic. Some do, and some don’t. It can be confusing!

Luckily we’ve got your back: here’s what you need to know about which types of black plastic are acceptable for recycling at home, and how to recycle them if they’re not.

Before we go any further, let me say that the main thing to keep in mind when it comes to recycling is this: make sure every piece of plastic you put into your bin is clean and dry.

Clean and dry sounds simple enough, but when it comes to cosmetics packaging it can be a little trickier than you think.

Makeup products are often packaged with multiple different materials—some of which may be recyclable in certain places, some of which may not—and since most makeup comes in liquid or cream form there’s usually a lot more residue left behind than there would be on something like an empty water bottle or shampoo bottle.

These factors require a bit of extra effort when putting together your cosmetics recycling bin so that everything goes smoothly once the box gets picked up (or dropped off at a local facility).

A good rule of thumb is this: if something can’t hold water anymore because its structure has been compromised somehow (for example after being used as an oil diffuser), then chances are pretty good that it can no longer be recycled either!

Final Thoughts

There are some really great, no-nonsense sites that can help you find out if cosmetic packaging is recyclable or not.

So contact your local recycling office and see what you can do to reduce the amount of plastic trash in your area.

And remember, it’s always better to buy products without plastic packaging if you can!