The Body Shop Beauty Advisors recycling empty products in-store

“Our planet is drowning in plastic”, reads The Body Shop press info. It’s more a battle cry than bemoaning the fact, and a bandwagon that is weekly gathering supporters who can make changes. The tide has turned in 2019 and we hear more and more encouraging stories from Conscious Companies and Conscious Consumers about new ways of working to eventually rule out this scourge of the earth. No action is too small: “It’s only one straw”, said 1 billion people.

The Body Shop info continues: “The devastating effect of plastic waste on our oceans is well known. However, there is a human element to the plastic crisis, which is rarely discussed. Over 3bn people live without formal waste management – that’s almost half the planet’s population. This has given rise to an informal waste picking economy. Some of the world’s most marginalised people pick untreated waste to try to make a living. These waste pickers, many of them women, often live below the poverty line, work in appalling conditions and are shunned by society. Yet they form a critical line of defence in stopping plastic from entering our rivers and oceans”.

That’s why The Body Shop has launched its first Community Trade recycled plastic scheme, in partnership with Plastics For Change. Community Trade is The Body Shop’s bespoke and independently verified fair trade program. Walking away from plastic altogether is not the answer. If used responsibly and given value, plastic can be sustainable.

The Body Shop launches new in-store recycling scheme

Community Trade recycled plastic is just one part of the company’s commitment to making its packaging more sustainable. With global recycling pioneers TerraCycle, The Body Shop is making recycling empty packaging easier and more accessible starting in five countries – UK, Australia, Canada, France and Germany – customers can return their empty bottles, jars, tubs, tubes and pots, in store, so TerraCycle can recycle, where possible, in the local market environment. If recycling is not possible, TerraCycle will repurpose the packaging into new consumer products such as benches or watering cans. All stores** within these markets will feature a recycling bin where customers can return any five empty products from The Body Shop and receive an incentive***.

Community trade recycled plastic from Bengaluru, India

India alone has 1.5 million waste pickers who collect and sort over 6,000 tonnes of plastic every day that would otherwise pollute our rivers and oceans. The majority of India’s waste pickers are Dalits, previously known as ‘untouchables’. This means that they have virtually no visibility in society and have limited rights. They are vulnerable to discrimination, poor living and working conditions and an unpredictable payment system for the plastic they collect.

“I have been picking waste for around 30 years, since I was a child. This is a really tough and physically demanding industry to be in. Waste pickers face all kinds of hardships, including harassment, late payments and health issues. However, through waste picking I have managed to raise a family and send my children to college. I am really proud of what I do. I believe we play a very important role in keeping cities clean and helping to recycle the huge amounts of plastic waste that society produces.” Annamma, former waste picker and current Dry Waste Collection Centre Manager, Bengaluru.

With over three decades of working with disadvantaged communities around the world, The Body Shop is applying its expertise to help tackle the plastic crisis. An abundance of recyclable plastic already exists. In partnership with Plastics for Change, The Body Shop has started using Community Trade recycled plastic in its 250ml haircare bottles, soon including its bestselling Ginger Shampoo with one bottle sold every four seconds*. The bottles will contain 100% recycled plastic (excluding the bottle caps). 15% of that will be Community Trade recycled plastic; the remainder will be recycled plastic from European sources. The Body Shop will increase the amount of Community Trade Recycled plastic over time. Working with a start-up company and small waste picker communities means starting small and scaling up in a responsible and sustainable manner.

* Based on global sales 12/12/2017 to 11/12/2018 of all product sizes of this formula (selling period of 12 hours per day, 7 days per week).

** Excludes a select few stores due safety reasons.

*** Ts & Cs apply

Feature image courtesy of @thebodyshopaust

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