Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 2022: Well-loved ethical and vegetarian cosmetics brand, LUSH, is opening the new year with a leap to a more sustainable practice for its consumers with its Bring It Back Scheme. In an effort to lead the movement that deviates from disposable packaging into a more valuable and reusable mindset, LUSH calls its customers to return their clean and empty packages for recycling in exchange for shopping incentives.
Through the Bring It Back Scheme, customers can claim up to AED 5 per qualifying package returned to spend in-store. The amount will be deducted to their total bill at the till on the same day. Additionally, LUSHies can also return five empty packages and exchange them for a Fresh Face Mask.
It was clear that having more options when it comes to recycling incentives was a firm favourite among our community, and so that’s what we’re doing! We are working hard towards our vision to offer people the ultimate waste-free shopping experience; we continue to invent revolutionary products, develop unique packaging materials, work on reusable plastic packaging items as well as look into refilling options for the future.
But when it comes to this new scheme for recycling, here’s how it went . . .
A while ago, when we learned that even with all the domestic recycling programmes across many countries, only around 9-12% of plastics are recycled, this got under our skin.
At Lush the majority of plastic packaging we use is from recycled and recyclable plastic and our black pot returns scheme has been in place since 2008. When we consider the incredibly low global average of plastics recycling, our packaging return rate seems quite positive. But we know both of these numbers are far too low. Plastic can be a great material when used and reused responsibly; it is flexible, easy to clean, light, long-lasting and cheap. But the fact that around 90% of plastic items being created are made from virgin plastic is simply astonishing! The plastic itself is not the problem, rather our continued production of new plastics (relying on fossil fuel extraction), overuse the application, and irresponsible discarding of our polymer friends that is causing catastrophic pollution to our planet.
We also know that current recycling sorting facilities often can’t ‘read’ black plastic. Meaning it ends up heading for incineration or landfill, even when it is perfectly recyclable. We tested different colours and additives for our packaging, but when we looked into the recycling industry deeper, we saw that a large portion of our recycling could end up in countries with poor waste management practices no matter how we changed the plastic material during the production process.
Why black plastic?
By choosing black recycled plastic we can use 100% post-consumer recycled feedstock very easily. This is because we do not have to be too choosy over the colours of the feedstock we use and can incorporate many different sources of recycled PP plastic into the Lush pot mix.
We’ve realised that the most responsible thing we can do is to get as much of our plastic packaging as possible into a loop we can control.
So, the outcome of our research was simple . . . We’re going to own it!
Both figuratively and literally – we want to take even more ownership of our plastic packaging and ensure our bottles, pots, and tubs are given the new life we know they could and should have. By moving towards a deposit-style scheme, whereby Lush customers purchase their products, knowing that they are ‘renting’ the packaging and can simply return it when they are finished, we keep the responsibility of waste-reduction and resource recycling as our responsibility. All we need our customers to do is simply return their empties to us in one of our stores – we’ll take care of the rest.
This project is a big step in our mission to leave the world Lusher than we found it.