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Beginners’ Guide to Recycling Empties in Malaysia

While we all love the beautiful packaging and bottles that our favourite products come in, there’s always this nagging feeling of guilt every time an empty gets thrown in the bin. Most packaging is plastic-based which takes hundreds of years to fully break down in landfill and releases toxic byproducts and microplastics which contaminate our groundwater and fertile soil, ultimately ending up in our food and water supply. And that’s not even considering the metals, aerosols and other chemicals that make up say a brush, a hairspray or a cushion compact.

In conjunction with Global Recycling Day (March 18), let’s look at how we can minimize our impact on the environment. No matter how big or small, recycling our empties is a great first step to becoming more responsible consumers.

How to recycle your products?

As a basic rule, make sure that your bottles and containers are completely empty. Give them a good wash to remove all product residue and dry them off. Of course, different products come in different types of containers and Byrdie has a great overview on the right way to make sure they can be made properly eligible for recycling, especially those with packaging that consists of different types of material like plastic and metal. 

Where to recycle your products in Malaysia

Unfortunately, separate recycling bins at home are not as common in Malaysia as they are in some other countries but fret not, there are still a few ways to get your makeup containers and empties recycled and reused. 

Brands such as Innisfree, M.A.C and Kiehl’s all run their own recycling programs for their own products. Just bring your clean empties to one of their outlets and they’ll handle the rest. As an added incentive, these programs all provide rewards based on the number of empties you bring back to them – the more empties you bring back the better gifts you get in return! 

However, the star here is clearly L’Occitane. They accept empties from ANY brand and that carries through to their recycling rewards program as well.  Kudos to L’Occitane and we all hope that other brands follow their lead in the future

More and more brands are starting up their own recycling and rewards programs all the time so make sure to check online so you don’t miss out!

External Recycling Initiatives

There are also a few external recycling operators that provide recycling services. IPC operates a recycling and buy back centre at IPC Shopping Centre in Mutiara Damansara where they will pay for plastic, metal and aluminium recyclables at a per kg rate. 

The Yellow Bins Movement provides bins for recyclables all around urban Johor, while there are recycling centres located around Sabah and Sarawak. 

The Zero Waste Malaysia movement also has a handy map showing recycling centres, bins and initiatives around the country amongst other sustainable-lifestyle initiatives such as farmers markets and refillable skincare locations.

Conclusion

While recycling and conscious consumption remains in its infancy in Malaysia, it is vitally important that we as beauty and skincare enthusiasts recognize our impact on the local environment which ultimately affects the health of ourselves and our natural environment. Recycling empties is only a small step in the grand scheme of things, normalising sustainable and responsible consumption will only help as we move towards a more sustainable industry.