Published: 18 November 2021  (Updated: 18 November 2021)

The UK Cosmetics Industry and Stakeholders Agree to Move Forward on Take-back Schemes for Cosmetic Packaging

The stakeholder roundtable on cosmetic packaging take-back schemes, convened by CTPA, took place on Monday 15 November 2021.

This ground-breaking roundtable brought together key stakeholders, including Resources and Waste Minister at Defra, Jo Churchill, MP, Defra officials, representatives from WRAP UK, OPRL, Flexible Plastic Fund and Terracycle, industry representatives and other cross-sector organisations representing brands and retailers.

The ultimate goal of the industry would be that no cosmetic packaging ends up as waste.  While the cosmetics industry is working towards reducing or removing unnecessary packaging, and the adoption of reuse and refill models where appropriate, the challenge of certain types of cosmetic packaging not being recycled must be addressed.

Whilst many CTPA members have or are considering take-back schemes, where consumers return the packaging to dedicated collection points, CTPA recognises that with a more industry-wide approach, the awareness of such schemes and quantity of packaging recovered can be increased and maximum value added to the material that is recovered.

CTPA teamed up with the Recycle Now team at WRAP to add cosmetic packaging terms onto its Recycling Locator tool with the aim of increasing the number of cosmetic brands that are highlighting this opportunity to their consumers and encouraging this form of recycling for currently unrecycled cosmetic packaging. 

The Recycling Locator Tool is already up and running with brands adding the locations for their schemes.

This work builds on the CTPA’s Sustainability Strategy ‘Driving Towards a Net Positive Cosmetics Industry’. CTPA is looking forward to continuing to work with the roundtable key stakeholders to take this important work forward.


Resources and Waste Minister at Defra, Jo Churchill MP, said:
“We are committed to reducing waste and driving up recycling levels through our landmark reforms and I am delighted to see UK cosmetics companies taking steps towards making recycling much easier for consumers.
All sectors of the economy are now changing how they design their products and I am looking forward to the cosmetics industry leading the way and driving further innovation in their ambition to cut waste.”
Dr Emma Meredith, Director-General of CTPA, said:
As an industry we have to recognise that a lot of our packaging is not recycled, so the onus is on us to be responsible and develop solutions to reduce the amount of waste. Take-back schemes could be a major step in helping to achieve this and there was huge appetite at the roundtable to drive this forward.
Sarah Clayton, Head of Citizen Behaviour Change, said:
“WRAP’s Recycle Now brand is very happy to be working with the CTPA and its members to help meet all four of the UK Plastics Pact targets and support UK Government’s achieve their objectives. For citizens any recycling scheme needs to be easy to use, they need to be motivated to use it and they need to know where to recycle. We are very pleased to be supporting citizens to do this through our Recycling Locator and working with the CTPA to increase awareness of the take back schemes currently available.
However, instore take back schemes can only go so far in helping to avoid packaging going to landfill. Reuse and refill options, eliminating packaging where it is not necessary as well as more packaging that uses widely recyclable materials are all key steps that need further future investigation in order to move towards a sustainable circular economy.”

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