Global Impact

‘Hard to recycle’ no more

Now in 700 stores, Recycle at Boots gives customers an easy way to make the sustainable choice.

By Sarah Cason
person donating products to bin

Did you know that lipstick can potentially be recycled? Or that you needn’t toss a travel-sized shampoo bottle in the bin?

Deemed “hard to recycle,” products like toothpaste tubes that are made from nonrecyclable materials, cosmetics made from composite materials or sample sizes of products are oftentimes thought to be only disposable, not recyclable.

But since 2020, these hard-to-recycle products are accepted as part of the Recycle at Boots scheme. Empty beauty, healthcare and wellness product containers (not just Boots brand or those purchased at Boots) can be deposited in the designated recycling bins at 700 stores, up from 50 when the program originally launched. Boots has made it easy to meet sustainably minded customers where they are across the UK—and to help them earn rewards in the process.

The first-of-its-kind program gives customers the chance not only to make a sustainable choice, but also earn 500 Boots Advantage points for every five products submitted when £10 or more is spent in-store. As a result, more than 96,000 registered users have deposited more than 1.4 million products and diverted 54 metric tonnes of plastic waste from landfill to date.

Due to its success, the learnings from the program are being shared with other companies looking to decrease their environmental impact in an accessible way for consumers. In February 2023, it was also announced that the program will be rolled out in 50 Boots Ireland stores.

“We hear from our customers all the time that they want to move to a more sustainable lifestyle, so we want to be there with them on the journey and help them make easy sustainable switches in their routines,” says Natalie Gourlay, head of environmental, societal and governance at Boots UK. “Giving product a second life enables those resources to be entered back into the economy and reduces the need to produce new. It’s not always something customers can do alone, so we aim to give them that all-important element of choice and help make it easier to reduce their footprint.”

Boots partners with MyGroup, a closed-loop recycling service, to wash and sort the donated products. Then, one of three actions are taken:

  • Recycle the now-ready to recycle products
  • Process any organic material through an industrial organics processor
  • Transform any remaining multi-material items into Storm Board, a composite construction board material similar to plywood that can be made into more recycling bins, chairs and more

Watch to learn how recycled products become new, sustainable items thanks to Recycle at Boots below. For more details on the growth of the program since its inception, read WBA’s 2022 Environmental, Social and Governance Report and tune in to the virtual launch event of the report on March 9 at 10 a.m. CST.

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