Article by Adrienne Suhm

You know the feeling: dozens of plastic bottles line your bathroom counter, emptied of their liquid foundation and extra-volume mascara. You take a peek inside the goopy bottles and head straight to the trash with no idea of how to recycle them.

First, how should you treat a cosmetics container after you’ve used up its contents? Begin by removing as much excess product as possible. Next, rinse out the canister with hot water and soap, cleaning it entirely. Finish by drying the container thoroughly.

Used cosmetics containers are often hard to recognize and sort at local recycling facilities, resulting in additional waste buildup in landfills. However, the process has come a long way, and there are now a number of recycling options for consumers. We’ve created a guide to find the best recycling deals in the industry – and who knows, you could get some free products out of it, too!

MAC Cosmetics

MAC has recently developed an exclusive recycling program, aptly called “Back to MAC”, for its customers. Any six empty makeup containers can be delivered in store or mailed back in exchange for a free lipstick in the color of your choice.


Similar to MAC’s giveaway offer, Lush’s “5-Pot Program” allows consumers to return any five black product pots to a Lush store in exchange for a Fresh Face Mask at no cost.


Through recycling company g2 Revolution, Aveda has committed to collect product containers for recycling. Emptied Aveda product containers (including plastics, glass, metal, dispensers, and makeup accessories) can be dropped in the “Full Circle” recycling bins at any store.


In 2009, Origins created the first cosmetics packaging recycling program in the beauty industry, which still remains a gold standard for consumers. Any Origins store in North America will accept cosmetics containers from any brand at no charge for a specialized recycling process intended to keep recyclable materials out of landfills.