Pro2Pro is an online resource center dedicated to enriching the careers of licensed beauty professionals.
Your Guide to Salon Recycling
Salons can go through hundreds of products every month - the beauty industry produces 1.2 billion units of packaging a year. But what happens to all that packaging when you’re done using it? And those recycling signs on the bottles you see in your salon - what do they all mean? We’re here to help you answer all your salon recycling questions, so you can increase your salon’s sustainability efforts and make your role in it a little easier!
What does the recycling symbol mean?
This symbol (called The Mobius Loop) alone means the item can be recycled. As long as your bottles are clean, dry and empty, they are good to go in your recycling bin.
If your item does not have a recycling symbol, putting it in the recycling bin can make recycling less effective for your local center. It’s best to throw it away with your trash.
What are the plastic recycling symbols?
You’ll want to pay attention to the numbers in the symbol on your plastic - they help identify what kind of plastic the product is, so you know exactly how to recycle it, and if your local recycling center accepts it.
#1 stands for polyethylene terephthalate, or a PETE plastic. You’ll usually find this on shampoo/conditioner or lotion bottles.
#2 means it’s a high-density polyethylene, or HDPE. You may see this number on things like water jugs, packaging for cleaning or cosmetics.
#3 you may not find as much, but it is just as important to know! It stands for polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. Commonly used for packaging materials such as bubble wrap, you may see this more on the shipping materials of your items.
#4 is a low-density polyethylene, LDPE. These are softer plastics, like a squeezable bottle or plastic bags. These can be harder to recycle, so be sure to check your local recycling center’s guidelines!
#5 Polypropylene, or PP. This durable, hard plastic can be found in items like high-end product bottles. Recyclable, but may be subject to local guidelines!
#6 Polystyrene (PS) is another plastic that you may find hard to recycle in your area, but it’s not commonly used. You may find it on items like styrofoam packaging or rigid packaging molds.
#7 stands for “other”, meaning the packaging was likely made from various plastics. This means they usually cannot be recycled. You may see this on bottles of color, or rigid items like clips or combs.
Can I recycle cardboard and glass?
Glass bottles have played a huge role in a more sustainable beauty industry, and for good reason! Glass is a recycling superstar, as it can be infinitely recycled and made into other products.
Cardboard/paper is another highly recyclable material. While usually safe to recycle, make sure to check with your local recycling center to see their guidelines on waxed/coated cardboard.
Do I have to do anything to my empties before recycling?
Prepping your packaging before recycling can be a huge help to the environment. Dirty items can contaminate clean packaging, making it harder to repurpose. Always clean out your packaging with hot water and then dry before tossing into the recycling bin.
How can my salon be more environmentally friendly?
Recycling is a great start, but here’s another simple way to practice sustainably: buying your items in bulk! Not only will this save you and your salon money, but it reduces the amount of packaging you use. Marlo Beauty Supply has tons of products available in bulk - making your shipping and sustainability efforts easier!
I see another symbol with the recycling sign - what does it mean?
This symbol signifies that the maker of the packaging has made a financial contribution toward the recovery and recycling of packaging - NOT that the packaging is recyclable. Refer back to the Mobius Loop ( ) and its number to determine how to dispose of your product.
Your best rule of thumb: all recycling centers have their own guidelines for what they can accept, so be sure to check out your local center. For example - if you have a #3 plastic, and your local center accepts #3 items, you’re good to recycle it! You can use sites like Earth 911 to find out what your local center wants you to recycle, and how.