You can now recycle your unwanted beauty products free of charge.

There’s an oft-posted Instagram meme that goes something like this: “I’m going to use all of my old makeup before I buy new makeup,” said no one ever.

It’s so popular because it’s painfully accurate for anyone who loves cosmetics.

Bathroom drawers around the world are straining under the weight of half-used lipsticks, barely touched eyeshadow palettes and dried-up mascaras that are usually months (if not years) past their expiry date.


There's great news for beauty lovers. Image: supplied

These products, once finally discarded by their owners, have typically ended up in landfill — adding to the already enormous strain on the environment.

The good news is you can now recycle your used beauty, hair and skincare products, and it won't cost you a cent.

It's all thanks to a joint effort by TerraCycle — a US company focused on recycling traditionally 'unrecyclable' waste — and L'Oreal Australia, with its brands Garnier, Maybelline and L'Oreal Paris.

Watch: The easiest way to clean your makeup brushes. (Post continues after video.)

Together they've introduced a world-first recycling program allowing Australian consumers, including professional salons, to give their old beauty buys a second life.

"One of our Sharing Beauty with All 2020 targets is to empower every consumer to make sustainable consumption choices. This is where our partnership with TerraCycle and the Beauty Products Recycling Program comes in which encourages consumers to collect their empty beauty products at home and send them to TerraCycle – with L’Oréal Australia covering the cost of shipping," Marnie Carroll, Corporate Communications Manager L'Oreal Australia, told Mamamia.


You simply need to remove any excess product from the items to be recycled — they don't need to be L'Oreal ones, by the way — then whack them in a box.

Then, download a postage label from your Terracycle account, stick it on the box and drop it off at your nearest post office.


Tom Szaky, TerraCycle CEO. Image: supplied

That's it.

The waste will then be sent to a warehouse in Sydney to be separated and/or shredded and sold to companies that can use the material in packaging their products.

"The program is all about thinking big and knowing what a difference this could make to the 21.1 million tonnes of waste that is currently sent to landfill in Australia each year. The beauty industry can make a real difference to this total and that’s why this program is open to all brands, not just those within the L’Oréal Group," says Carroll.

The waste accepted by the program includes cosmetics packaging like used lipstick, foundation, eyeliner and mascara; hair care packaging like hair spray and shampoo and conditioner bottles; and skincare items like moisturisers, soap dispensers and shaving cream packaging.

Image: TerraCycle

Speaking to Huffington Post Australia, TerraCycle's CEO Tom Szaky explained why the program is a game changer.

"We're able to recycle glass because it is valuable. But something like a mascara tube, because of its complex structure, actually costs more to collect and process than it's worth," he said.

There have been other cosmetic recycling programs in the past, but they haven't been accepting of products from all makeup brands. (Post continues after gallery.)

"Usually brands will take responsibility over their landfill but not that of another brand. This is a completely free platform, with shipping and everything paid for by L'Oreal," Szaky added in an interview with Business News.

TerraCycle predicts one quarter of a million Australians will get on board with the initiative. We certainly will be.

In fact, perhaps it's time for another bathroom drawer spring clean...

Featured image: iStock.