Harrods and Perfume Shop invest to cut beauty packaging waste

Harrods has added in-store recycling points for cosmetics and personal care packaging to five UK stores, while the Perfume Shop is investing in refillable products and clamping down on oversized cardboard boxes.

Harrods and Perfume Shop invest to cut beauty packaging waste

Image: Harrods

Harrods piloted its packaging recycling points at its ‘H Beauty’ store in Milton Keynes in early 2023. Posting success with this trial, with 200kg of waste collected, the luxury retailer recently confirmed that the points will be added to four additional locations as a permanent feature.

The loyalty rewards and ease of use made the trial attractive to regular shoppers, Harrods said in a statement.

At H Beauty Milton Keynes and stores in Bristol, Edinburgh, Gateshead and Lakeside, customers will now be able to deposit their packaging in bins next to tills. For every five pieces of packaging returned, shoppers will receive 500 bonus reward points under Harrods’ ‘MyBeauty’ scheme, equivalent to £5.

Packaging formats covered by the scheme include skincare, shampoo and conditioner bottles; lotion pumps; vitamin bottles; mascara containers; eyeshadow palettes and makeup compacts.

Collected packaging is processed by specialist waste management firm MYGroup at its facilities in Hull. Anything that cannot be recycled, including cosmetic residue, will be used to produce biofuel.

Think tanks have estimated that the global cosmetics and toiletries sector is producing 120 billion units of packaging a year. Research by the BBC in 2019 found that one-third of the single-use plastic packaging items found in typical UK households are due to bathroom products.

Most of these pieces of packaging cannot be recycled. The British Beauty Council estimates that only 9% of cosmetic packaging is recycled through conventional collections from households. Most of the remainder ends up in landfill.

Harrods’ director of buying for beauty, Mia Collins, said the recycling scheme serves as an example to others in the beauty retail space, stating that the business is “leading a transformative journey towards recycling and circularity in the beauty industry”.

Perfume packaging

In related news, The Perfume Shop has announced a £2.5m investment to automate its packaging process for online orders. This is partly to ensure speed as online orders increase, but there is also potential for significant environmental sustainability benefits.

New machines from Breathe Technologies will measure products and then ensure that boxes are folded to the exact size match. This will end the use of outsized boxes, reducing cardboard use.

The Perfume Shop is anticipating that some parcels will include 40% less cardboard packaging once the changes are in place. It is also foreseeing a reduction in emissions due to efficiencies in onward shipping to customers.

This announcement comes shortly after the retailer piloted the UK’s first multi-brand, in-store fragrance refill station as part of a collaboration with L’Oreal.

The refill station is based at The Perfume Shop’s Nottingham store and includes eight fragrance options.

Recycling options are available at all Perfume Shop locations after the firm’s long-standing recycling programme was revamped last year. Customers return empty bottles for a 15% discount coupon for same-day purchases. Recycled glass from the bottles is used to create chandeliers.

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