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If all packaging was made of gold

We’d be far less likely to chuck it away, let alone consider it rubbish. Gone would be the days of needless extra layers and boxes - gold is pricey! Not a pot wasted; every little piece revered, reused and recycled. That’s the aim of the Lush Green Hub: a Poole-based recycling centre that treats waste material like the crown jewels.

Recycling guru, Giles Verdon, explains ‘The goal of the Green Hub is to close itself - to get to the point where Lush either uses no packaging or that it’s entirely reusable.’

It’s a bold aim, indicative of a wider issue. Research from The British Plastics Federation shows that the national plastic industry alone turns over £19 billion a year, but The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) found that only 43.9% of household waste was recycled in the financial year of 2015/16, a 0.8% drop compared to the previous year. The statistics suggest that we still see plastic as disposable, not valuable.

That’s why the Green Hub exists. Whatever comes back (bottle tops, window displays, shop furniture), inside cogs whirr, people stir and granulators grind in a bid to turn each and every last bit of rubbish into 24 carat gold. Customers play an integral part in these in-house recycling efforts by returning their clean black pots to shops. These are sent back to the Green Hub via empty delivery vans returning from Lush shops, along with a cornucopia of waste saved by shop staff. All plastic goods are made with 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, saving around 426 tonnes of carbon dioxide, 507 tonnes of virgin plastic, or 5265 barrels of oil each year. Quite impressive huh?

At the Green Hub, a machine called the granulator shreds the pots into small pieces of plastic which are then externally processed into smaller pellets. These pellets are then combined with other recycled plastics to be remoulded into more Lush black pots - ensuring less recycled material needs to be bought in to make the containers. The reformulation process ensures that the containers are thoroughly cleaned, fitted and as good as new when they arrive back in the factory to be filled, with less chance of leakage or weakening.

Between its inception in April 2015 and April 2016, the Green Hub granulated 35,000 kg of these pots into shredded plastic - that’s the equivalent of 13.1 million 10ml pots. But that’s still just one for every eight potted products taken home that year - meaning there’s huge potential to increase returns to the Green Hub.

Quite simply, the more black pots returned to shops, the less additional recycled plastic needs to be bought in to make containers in the first place. It’s your way of giving packaging the Midas touch. Plus, bring back five and you’ll get a lovely fresh face mask for your trouble.

And the recycling doesn’t stop there, Lush carrier bags are made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper, saving the equivalent of 522 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. In 2016 alone, manufacturing recycled over 363 tonnes of cardboard, composted 401 tonnes of organic waste and recycled 216 tonnes of plastic. Here at Lush, packaging really is precious.

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