SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A local business teamed up with global waste management company TerraCycle to help tackle the problem of plastic pollution in the beauty industry.
About 8 million tons of plastics enter oceans and marine environments annually — which, according to TerraCycle, is the same as dumping a garbage truck full of plastics into the ocean every minute of every day for a year.
In the beauty industry specifically, around 120 billion units of packaging are made each year, according to TerraCycle.
Plastic pollution has also been shown to have an impact on climate change, due to its contribution to global greenhouse gases.
Across the United States, small businesses are stepping up to combat the issue by better handling their waste.
Salacia Salts, a skin care and home fragrance shop in Savannah, is one of those small businesses.
They initially reached out to TerraCycle after discovering a lack of options in Savannah for recycling beauty products, especially the plastic kind, via curbside recycling or a municipal recycling program.
“I learned about TerraCycle when I was looking at different solutions on how to recycle different types of plastic packaging that was no longer recyclable in Savannah, and I found them as a major organization across the globe that was recycling really hard and difficult things, like cosmetic packages and compacts,” Salacia Salts founder Cari Phelps told WSAV.com Now.
TerraCycle offers several different types of Zero Waste Boxes to help with recycling difficult items, Phelps added.
The box Salacia Salts selected to add to their own store was geared the proper disposal of beauty product packaging.
Items like shampoo bottles, lip balm tubes, concealer sticks and eye shadow cases can be dropped inside.
“If you think about a cosmetic compact, there’s plastic, there’s glass, there’s metal, there’s tin, there’s all these different components, and it’s really hard to recycle in a local facility,” Phelps said.
“This box allows people to drop in a variety of different types of waste, and then they recycle it and turn it into really cool things, like toys or playground equipment,” she added.
The Zero Waste Box program helps another issue facing the beauty industry: “wishful recycling,”or “wish-cycling” for short.
“This phenomenon takes place whenever a well-meaning consumer tosses an item that they are unsure can be recycled—like an empty mascara container—into their curbside recycling bin in the hopes that it will be processed like any typical recyclable,” TerraCycle publicist Shaye DiPasquale told WSAV.com Now.
“In reality, this habit can be extremely counter-intuitive, since it places unnecessary stress on local municipal recycling facilities (MRFs),” DiPasquale said.
TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Box program offers people an eco-friendly way to discard their beauty waste.
Phelps says they first received their box over the holidays, and so far, they’ve gotten a positive response from customers who have already started to bring in their old beauty products.
“A lot of people say they want to come in because they’ve got things to drop off,” Phelps said.
“And that’s part of it, too, just educating people that there is a place,” she said.
Once the box is filled, Salacia Salts then ships it back to TerraCycle with a prepaid shipping label, and from there, the beauty waste gets properly handled.
With millions of pounds of plastic reportedly going into the oceans every day, Phelps says everyone can make a difference if they reduce, reuse or recycle.
“I think it’s something important for our community,” she said.
“We live on the coast, we love our beautiful marshes and beaches and waterways, and I think if you feel like you can do something really small, even if it’s recycling something once a week or once a month, you feel like you’re doing something for your own community,” she said.