‘Towards conscious consumption and a genuine harmony between commerce and natural resources’ - The Lusher Than We Found It team
Want to skip straight to the what, when and how to take part in the scheme? Click here.
The decision to develop this scheme for our UK and Ireland customers came, in part, from customer and staff feedback we received in 2020. It was clear that having more options when it comes to recycling incentives was a firm favourite among our community, and so that’s what we are doing! We are working hard towards our vision to offer people the ultimate waste-free shopping experience; we continue to invent revolutionary naked products, develop unique packaging materials, work on reusable plastic packaging items as well as looking into refilling options for the future.
But when it comes to this new scheme for recycling, here’s how it went . . .
A while ago, when we learnt that even with all the domestic recycling programmes across many countries, only around 9-12% of plastics are recycled, this got under our skin.
At Lush the majority of plastic packaging we use is from recycled and recyclable plastic and our black pot returns scheme has been in place since 2008. When we consider the incredibly low global average of plastics recycling, our packaging return rate (approx 15% for the UK&I) seems quite positive. But we know both of these percentages are far too low. Plastic can be a great material when used and reused responsibly; it is flexible, easy to clean, light, long-lasting and cheap. But the fact that around 90% of plastic items being created are made from virgin plastic is simply astonishing! Plastic itself is not the problem, rather our continued production of new plastics (relying on fossil fuel extraction), overuse in application and irresponsible discarding of our polymer friends that is causing catastrophic pollution to our planet.
We also know that current recycling sorting facilities often can't ‘read’ black plastic. Meaning it ends up heading for incineration or landfill, even when it is perfectly recyclable. We tested different colours and additives for our packaging, but when we looked into the recycling industry deeper, we saw that a large portion of our recycling could end up in countries with poor waste management practices no matter how we changed the plastic material during the production process.
Why black plastic?
By choosing black recycled plastic we are able to use 100% post-consumer recycled feedstock very easily. This is because we do not have to be too choosy over the colours of the feedstock we use and can incorporate many different sources of recycled PP plastic into the Lush pot mix.
We’ve realised that the most responsible thing we can do is to get as much of our plastic packaging as possible into a loop we can control.
So the outcome of our research was simple . . . We’re going to own it!
Both figuratively and literally - we want to take even more ownership of our plastic packaging and ensure our bottles, pots and tubs are given the new life we know they could and should have. By moving towards a deposit-style scheme, whereby Lush customers purchase their products, knowing that they are ‘renting’ the packaging and can simply return it when they are finished, we keep the responsibility of waste-reduction and resource recycling as our responsibility. All we need our customers to do is simply return their empties to us in one of our UK&I stores - we’ll take care of the rest.
This project is a big step in our mission to leave the world Lusher than we found it.
Championing the ‘packaging as a service’ message and supporting circular economy developments in the UK&I, whilst we also look to our global community and consider developments in other Lush markets too.
What exactly is the new scheme?
Throughout 2021 we will be throwing our scheme wide open and inviting our customers in the UK&I to return any of their Lush plastic packaging back to our shops for recycling. Not only that but our packaged product fans can claim 50p/c towards their Lush shopping per qualifying item they bring back! This ‘deposit’ return will be added towards their total bill at the till-point on the same day.
But for those who are outside of the UK&I or simply just love the scheme the way it is, never fear - we will still be offering a fresh face mask for 5 empties! The great news is that not only will our black & clear PP pots continue to count in the 5 for a fresh mask scheme but any full-sized Lush plastic packaging items will now qualify. Meaning that if it counts in the new scheme, it also counts in the continued fresh mask scheme.
For the in-depth lowdown on what packaging items qualify for the scheme and further Terms & Conditions, head here.