blueland is known for their refillable cleaning products: put a capsule in it, add water and another bottle of cleaning liquid is at your fingerprints. Now the company is doing the same, but for a facial cleanser. It’s part of their quest to reduce plastic waste in everyday personal care products.
But with that, they’re launching a unique campaign called Beyond the Bottle, where customers on Blueland can tweet a photo of any beauty product they want to throw away, and the Blueland social media team will contact the customer with the appropriate recycling route (or waste).
Packaging is the largest producer (46%) of all plastic waste, and the personal care sector is one of the largest producers – more than 120 billion packaging is produced annually worldwide, most of which is not recycled, says Sarah Paiji Yoo , founder and CEO of Blueland.
“Beauty industry packaging is also notoriously unclear when it comes to responsible recycling or disposal. We looked at the best beauty brands in the category and found that less than 10% of them actually had instructions on how to recycle their products.”
So I asked her why she decided to continue this campaign, going beyond the realm of Blueland, especially when brands themselves don’t know what to do with a product at the end of its life.
Esha Chhabra: So Sarah, why did Blueland feel the need to do this for all beauty products – and maybe not for a select few?
Sarah Paiji Yoo: Blueland’s mission has always been to make eco easier for everyone. The current reality of beauty packaging makes that very difficult! Our mission goes far beyond our products and this is a perfect example of how we put them into practice. For the first time in history, it’s completely free and easy to find out what to do with your beauty packaging, regardless of the product or local recycling regulations.
There’s such a huge opportunity for us to really make an impact on the wider industry, and that’s something we’re so proud of doing in the cleaning space.
The cleaning industry is years ahead of the beauty industry when it comes to labeling packaging with material information or end-of-life instructions. With the launch of our facial cleanser and access to the beauty space, we knew we wanted to make the same progress that the cleaning industry has seen and bring it to beauty. Our hope with Beyond the Bottle is that:
First, it helps educate consumers about the different material options available and we can begin to understand which ones are better for the planet, what might affect which products we buy, and
Two, creates an incentive for brands and retailers to make and trade products from better materials, creating a beneficial cycle.
Because our products are made to be refilled forever, they are not meant to be thrown away after the last use, so consumers are never faced with the question “how do I recycle this?”
Chhabra: How did you build this technology?
Paiji Yoo: No technology, all human powered! We have worked with our team to train and prepare them to provide the best support possible.
It’s a testament to how complex it is as this information isn’t readily available to be aggregated using technology.
It often requires us to manually contact brand customer support teams to get more information about the material (as it usually isn’t on packaging or brand websites), and to look up the specific recycling rules where the individual lives since recycling options vary widely by country. Township.
Chhabra: How accurate is it? Is there anything you can’t provide information about?
Paiji Yoo: We’ve done our best to collect information about popular products in the category, local recycling rules, and common materials used in beauty packaging.
Sometimes even brand customer service representatives can’t provide more information about the material, or the information they provide is too general to be useful, for example if they tell us it’s a plastic but can’t specify what kind of plastic.
Chhabra: One of the biggest problems with recycling/compostability is the lack of infrastructure. Are you also encountering this problem?
Paiji Yoo: Absolute. Recycling is very local and dependent on local infrastructure and capacities.
Recycling rules are also extremely local. The seven types of plastic – some cannot be recycled anywhere and others only in certain locations. And some cities don’t recycle glass or metal at all. It all depends on the facility that maintains the recycling equipment in your area. For example, some sorting facilities want you to leave the caps on or off. If you keep them on and the facility can’t process the caps, the caps become dangerous as high pressure bottles can force the caps on at high speeds. For others, if you don’t continue, they will fall through the equipment and clog machines.
We can only be as knowledgeable as the facilities allow, but the good news is that there is always someone to call or find information online.
And it also depends on the demand for those recycled materials. China used to be the largest recipient of recycled plastic from the US, but since 2018 they have stopped importing recycled plastic and paper, so many of our recovered materials have nowhere to go but to landfill.
Recycling is important, but still a very imperfect solution. Ultimately, we need to consume less, reduce packaging and replace disposables with reusable materials.
Chhabra: This new facial cleanser puts you in the beauty space. Does that mean you’ll be using more beauty products?
Paiji Yoo: Blueland is an innovation company and we are so proud of all the groundbreaking new innovations we have brought to market in such a short period of time since our launch. That said, we also strive for the highest sustainability standards, and we don’t just want to launch things for the sake of launching things. And the world certainly doesn’t need more beauty brands and more beauty products!
We will continue to focus on making only products that can have an inordinate impact, and most importantly, we will only make products that consumers really need and use. And create products that make a unique, positive contribution that help us on the path to a cleaner planet.