As we all know now, there is no such thing as ‘away’, that’s why all the products we stock are low or zero waste, with a preference for biodegradable, or compostable packaging. There have been troubling reports of the amount of recycling waste that doesn’t actually make it to be recycled, and more often than not, it finds its way to landfill, so we try to find packaging that can have another life in your home. Here’s a handy guide to help you dispose of or reuse the packaging your lovely products will be coming in.
What do we mean by biodegradable?
Technically, everything will biodegrade over time wherever it lands, plastic eventually does, but it takes 100s of years. So you want to make a decision about how long something may take to break down when you’re choosing how to spend your money. Think materials made from plant cellulose, bamboo, or trees, it will find its way back into the earth a whole lot quicker than other materials.
What do we mean by compostable?
Compostable is the recycling of organic waste. If packaging is listed as compostable, this means it will break down but it must have the right conditions to do so i.e. not in a landfill. Often this can be done in your home compost, but sometimes the packaging may advise you to send it to an industrial composter - here in the UK, we can break it down to small pieces and put it in our food waste bin.
What do we mean by recyclable?
If we have to go recyclable, we try to keep it as minimal as possible and prefer to reuse those containers/materials rather than put them in the recycling bin, for example, we have found infinite uses for glass and aluminium bottles which are way better than throwing them out, and if something has come in lovely patterned paper - hey presto we have wrapping paper. Don’t be scared to get creative!
Some reuses we have found:
Small glass/aluminium bottles - perfect for keeping bobby pins together in our handbags, great for collecting loose change, we decant our favourite products for travelling/going to the gym, a great size for taking condiments in with our work packed lunch.
Large glass/aluminium bottles - perfect for home made gifts for our loved ones, stick a candle in the top - perfect for bath time, we even reuse them in the kitchen for storing sauces.
Small tins - they’re so good for travelling as you can decant small amounts of make up into them and they’re below the 100ml limit for plane travel.
...don’t forget to wash them out thoroughly before reusing!
What about labels?
Unless it is listed otherwise on the packaging, most labels should be removed before you throw out any packaging. In most cases they need to be recycled, so if you’re packaging is biodegradable or compostable, the label will not break down and should be removed and thrown out with the recycling. Also, it is almost certainly a different material to what it is attached to, so if the packaging is going into the recycling, they’ll probably need to be recycled in different ways.
What about the discs in lids?
Most products with a lid will have a small disc inside which is bittersweet - it helps prevent your lovely eco friendly products from leaking, however it should be removed when disposing of packaging. Luckily in most cases they are recyclable, so more often then not, you’re only recycling a small percentage of the packaging, the rest can be broken down or reused. Check with your local recycling if they can take them - most can!
Look out for greenwashing
Some companies are using terms like ‘biodegradable’, ‘compostable’, and recyclable’, when actually only parts of the materials are suitable for that type of disposal, in some cases it is such a small amount that you may as well throw it in the bin, so be cautious. Purchasing from a genuine ethical business who care about what is going out into the world should allay your fears, but still check on their websites, and have a look at the products as well - but when in doubt, always ask. Companies that are passionate about low and zero waste will love to talk to you about it!
If you have any questions about how to dispose of any of your packaging, please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.