A Quick Chat With… HANDLE Beauty Recycling

This week is Recycling Week and today I’m sharing a little more from a company who have a circular approach to beauty, taking waste beauty packaging and turning it into something beautiful – and practical!

Founded by Tom Murgatroyd and Steve Banks in 2020, HANDLE is a recycling company who repurpose beauty packaging as a valuable raw material to stop it going into landfill.

HANDLE works with retailers (such as Naturisimo, M&S and Space NK), brands (including Plenaire and Davines) and manufacturers to create a closed loop system, providing a more sustainable end of life option for packaging from beauty products that would frequently fall outside of mainstream recycling; such as lids, pumps and sachets.

Our goal is to recycle 1million pieces of your beauty packaging 

The packaging is sorted and either repurposed, recycled in the correct system recycled so it can be re-used by manufacturers of beauty packaging or if absolutely necessary, incinerated. Repurposed packaging is turned into pellets or recycled fibre which is then used to make something beautiful – something with a handle…

HANDLE have created a range of beauty accessories which are handmade using 100% recycled plastics.

Co-Founder Tom Murgatroyd kindly agreed to answer a few questions about their work…

What inspired you to turn beauty packaging into brushes and mirrors and razors?

We both entered this from different angles, Steve started having seen first-hand the amount of beauty waste mounting from the sector as founder of Beast (mens beauty store). He asked me to join to run the business given my experience in leading teams in fast-growing industries such as fintech and gaming. Sustainable Beauty has all the hallmarks of a sector on the move, but the stakes are higher. If we can reimagine the value chain for plastics in beauty, we can do it for any sector. If we do that, then we just give our future generations a better planet than we are currently predicted to hand them.

Our goal is to recycle 1million pieces of your beauty packaging – that seems like an awful lot of packaging! Why is recycling so important to you?

It’s actually not, given 250 billion units are consumed each year but we needed to start somewhere. Recycling is important because all of us can do better with the technology available to us, and therefore educating, encouraging and making it easier seems the logical first step. But the real magic comes through collaboration with passionate people who want to actually make change happen, circularity is achieved through many different footholds. Those footholds can be products, people, processes or just ideas manifested. This is what we love, and we need the momentum created by the projects we undertake for our partners to revolutionise an outdated and broken value chain for plastics. 

Are there some types of plastic that work better than others? And do you use all that you are sent?

We typically use PP (Polypropylene) and HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) in our products, but our R&D into re-using PET is going well, so this would be a big win for a material that has struggled to hold its own market value. If we don’t use it, we prepare as much as we can for mechanical recycling. We are also talking with packaging design teams across the beauty sector, getting into the details of why some packaging remains so bad from a reuse perspective. Sometimes it’s simple stuff such as lack of knowledge and poor communication that are the reasons for. 

I love the look of the products. Is there anything that inspired the design style? 

We used our friends at SMILE Plastics for these, they are all made from recycled materials and look great. You will see a few more partnerships spring up using our new Injection Moulded lines, means we can do UK production, using unwanted beauty packaging at a much lower RRP. 

I have a lot of Makeup Artist friends! Are you accepting more packaging??

Yes, we are accepting more packaging, but are currently focused on targeting materials that can be recycled or reused with a little bit of TLC. Whilst we are making inroads to design choices for packaging, there is still a lot of make-up packaging which will be burned, due the composition and contamination levels requiring more than the typical types of technology used at a municipal MRF (materials recovery facility). 

Do you plan on expanding the product range?

Yes, we have recently opened a couple of comb moulds up based on the partnership for the LUSH x BARBIE move (pictured below). We are discussing with 3 major retailers on new ranges, so hope to be at around 13 new injection moulded SKU’s by the end of next year. These will all retail at much lower price point of around £13.

Thank you so much Tom for sharing more about the fabulous work HANDLE are doing to reuse beauty packaging.

If you have some empty beauty packaging ready for a new adventure, here is a little more information…

Where can you donate?

  • You can drop your empty packaging into a Handle donation point. Handle have partnered with both M&S and SpaceNK and have over 130 participating high street retail locations in the UK. There are also a variety of salons and independent store which house a donation bin. You can find your closest location here
  • If there is not a drop point location close to you, you can send your empties directly to them by post. You can create a postage label here

What do they accept?

  • Handle accept the following materials: Plastic packaging (tubes, bottles, jars, lids, tubs), razors, roll-on deodorants, sachets, aluminium, cardboard, and pipettes.
  • Please ensure you empty and rinse your packaging before donating.

(HANDLE don’t currently collect electrical items, face wipes, sheet masks or aerosols)

Images: (1, 2) HANDLE; (3) LUSH
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