Is this a good time to educate beauty consumers about recycling?

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (IKvyatkovskaya)
© Getty Images \ (IKvyatkovskaya)

Related tags Recyclable materials Packaging Canada coronavirus

Recycle BC, a non-profit based in British Columbia, thinks so. The organization headed up by Tamara Burns just launched a campaign encouraging consumers to tour their own homes and spot any otherwise-overlooked recyclable packaging.

The Coronavirus pandemic has been leveraged for all sorts of at-home organization and tidying projects. But Recycle BC has just made it official with a new campaign.

“Most people have been home for a few weeks now,” ​says David Lefebvre, Recycle BC's Director of Public Affairs; “and we are hoping those who are healthy and looking for something to do will take a moment, maybe on their lunch break or weekend, to review all of the opportunities we have identified.”

“We know British Columbians take their recycling seriously,”​ says Lefebvre, adding, “We hope this campaign will help them take their recycling efforts to the next level.”

In 2011, the Province of British Columbia shifted the expense of recycling from consumers to producers. A few years later Recycle BC was founded to collect, sort, and facilitate the recycling of materials. Just to put this in perspective, according to the media release about the Coronavirus-associated recycling campaign, “Over the last five years, businesses have provided more than $400 million in funding; and Recycle BC has collected more than 1 million tonnes of material. More than 98% of BC households have access to Recycle BC's services.”

Beauty and personal care packaging recycling could be improved

The Recycle BC suggested home tour only takes into consideration packaging and materials that are accepted for recycling in the Province. And still, a significant percentage of recyclables are regularly overlooked.

Interestingly, a high percentage of British Columbia residents throw out beauty and personal care product containers more often they recycle them. The non-profit’s own research shows that:

  • 33% of residents throw away metal aerosol containers (e.g. hair spray)
  • 21% throw away metal containers (e.g. hair product, hand cream)
  • 13% throw away hard plastic containers (e.g. shampoo and mouthwash)

Packaging materials and product residue impact recycling rates

The non-profit’s media release notes that survey “respondents reported the highest recycling rates for paper products, while glass jars and plastic packaging was lower”​—an interesting fact given the rise in both paperboard and glass beauty packaging in recent years.

And, close to 25% of survey respondents opted not to recycle a given package because it was “ ‘too gross’ as a result of old food or product in it.”

Since consumer recycling behavior is of great importance to the Recycle BC organization, the non-profit is taking advantage of the fact that so many people are at home now. “We want to empower people to recycle more by providing information on our website and encouraging people to download the Recycle BC app​, where residents can easily search a variety of products and determine what can be recycled and how,” ​Lefebvre tells the press.

“This is something families can do while they are at home together,” ​he says, adding that, “we are inviting people to follow our social media channels and follow along each day as we explore a different room in their homes and the recycling possibilities.”



Deanna Utroske is a leading voice in the cosmetics and personal care industry as well as in the indie beauty movement. As Editor of, she writes daily news about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders.
CLICK HERE to read about Deanna’s approach to newsgathering and communication during COVID-19, as recently featured on Publishing Executive.

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