How to recycle expired lotions? (7 benefits) 

This article will explain how to recycle expired lotions. Other covered aspects would include: 

  • Why do lotions expire?
  • Can expired lotions be recycled? If so, how can?
  • Are expired lotions biodegradable?
  • How to recycle expired lotion bottles?
  • Can you reuse expired lotion bottles?
  • Is it okay to use expired lotions?
  • What are sustainable shopping choices when it comes to lotions?
  • FAQs

How to recycle expired lotions?

The best way to recycle expired lotions is to empty the content of lotions in a plastic (preferably bioplastic) bag and send it to recycling centres after properly washing them.

However, one better option is to avail of the buyback or refilling options that are offered by a number of contemporary cosmetic brands. Hence, conscious consumer choices become important from the consumer end. 

As regards the biodegradability of expired lotions, it is stated that lotion bottles are not biodegradable as they are made from plastics but lotions can be if they are made from natural ingredients and do not contain harmful chemicals such as parabens or triclosan. 

The least preferred way to dispose of expired lotions is to dispose of them in garbage cans. This is very likely to cause environmental problems as the lotion contents can seep into the ground and cause water and soil pollution. 

What are some of the points you need to consider while recycling or discarding lotions?

The following are some of the actions you need to be accountable while discarding and recycling expired lotions: 

  • If the lotion is in a tube, it is better to put both the tube and lotion in garbage bag 
  • If the lotion is a plastic bottle, empty the bottle and give it for recycling 
  • Avoid using expired lotions, ointments, and creams
  • Prefer lotions that come in recyclable packaging 

How to recycle expired lotion bottles? (7 benefits)

When lotions expire, the preservatives in them lose their functional value and therefore, they would not be effective for the purposes they were bought in the first place. 

As regards the recycling of lotion bottles, yes it is possible to recycle lotion bottles. Most lotion bottles are made from plastic and the majority of the plastics can be recycled. 

Recycling is explained as the reusing of any material with slight changes and modifications. When something is recycled, it does not have to be made from scratch and thus the following advantages are ensured to the environment: 

  • Better waste management 
  • Better resource management
  • Decreased Life Cycle Assessment
  • Decreased carbon footprint
  • Better employment opportunities
  • Decreased use of energy 
  • Less requirement for raw materials 

Since we have built a stance that there is a possibility to recycle expired lotion bottles, let us see what is the right way to recycle expired lotion bottles. 

One of the best ways to recycle expired lotion bottles is to first empty them. However, you need to be careful that the contents of the lotion must not drain into the sink or washrooms. This is because there may be harmful chemicals in the lotion bottles that can cause water pollution and may also affect aquatic and marine species. 

The best way to empty the content of the lotion bottles is to use them. If however, for some reason, you could not use the lotion and it has expired, then it is advised to empty the contents of the lotion bottles in a plastic bag. The plastic bag will act as a barrier between the environment and the content of the lotion bottles. 

After that, you should wash off the lotion bottles to ensure that there is no trace of lotion. You may then either dispose of lotion bottles in recycling bins or transport them to recycling centres. 

What are sustainable shopping choices when it comes to lotions and other cosmetics?

It is also important to know which lotions to buy because it is imperative that every consumer product will expire and will be needed to dispose of. In that scenario, those lotions that are more eco-friendly will be better off as compared to lotions that contain harmful ingredients. 

The following points need to be considered to ensure that you are buying good lotions that are not only good for the skin but also good for the environment. 

  • Its ingredients should not include any synthetic material which is non-biodegradable i.e., oxybenzone.
  • It should not have any natural ingredient that has an indirect environmental impact i.e., palm oil etc.
  • All of its ingredients should be biodegradable.
  • Zinc oxide should be used instead of titanium oxide as an active ingredient.
  • Its packaging should be biodegradable or at least recyclable if biodegradable packaging is not possible.
  • It should not compromise on the utilitarian aspect as well.

Are expired lotions biodegradable?

The question can be answered through two frames. One is the biodegradability of expired lotion and the other is the biodegradability of expired lotion bottles. 

Biodegradability is the breakdown of waste by the action of microbes and the facilitation by external factors such as sunlight, aeration, temperature, and pressure. 

There are two ways or aspects that will determine if something is biodegradable or not. One is how long it lasts and the other is the environmental impact of that product. 

If we speak about the biodegradability of expired lotions, then our main concern is not the time taken. Rather it is the environmental impact. To ensure that lotions do not have a significant environmental impact, it is important to buy lotions that are free from harmful chemicals like triclosan or parabens. 

As regards the biodegradability of expired lotion bottles, it can easily be stanced that expired lotion bottles are not biodegradable. Expired lotion bottles are made mostly from plastics. Plastics are made at the expense of fossil fuel derivatives and may remain in the environment for hundreds of years. 

It is claimed that some plastics such as HDPE or PET may remain in landfills for as long as 450 years and therefore, the best option is to recycle the bottles of expired lotion. 

Can you reuse expired lotion bottles?

Another strategy or approach that can be adopted is the reusing of expired lotion bottles. In many ways, reusing is regarded as better than recycling mainly because while recycling uses a limited amount of energy, there is a negligible amount of energy used in reusing. 

Therefore, recycling is a green option; reusing is a greener option. And yes, you definitely can reuse lotion bottles. Many contemporary and old brands offer the option of reusing old bottles so that the producers do not have to waste energy and resources on new ones. 

There are also various buyback programs offered by a number of contemporary brands. Therefore, it is essential from your end, as a consumer, to prioritise the brands and producers that have a green approach and offer options such as buybacks, reusing, and refilling services. 

Is it okay to use expired lotions?

One of the preceding questions that are often asked is whether it is possible to use expired lotion. The answer varies. If the lotion is kept in a jar, then it is probably not advisable to use expired lotion.

The main reason behind it is that jars may be open to microbial and bacterial contamination and therefore, once the shelf-life of the preservatives ends, there is a high chance that the lotion will have microbial contamination. 

In this case, there are chances that the lotion may cause skin complications such as allergies, rash, redness, irritation, et cetera. 

However, if the lotion is not in jars but in plastic bottles; it is theoretically possible to use such lotion. There would not be any significant harm. 

However, there would not be many benefits as well. The active ingredients would have lost their functionality and therefore, there will be no benefit of using such a lotion. 

The best thing that you can do is to make conscious consumer choices and buy only those cosmetics that have a long-due expiry date. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that the best way to recycle expired lotions is to empty the content of lotions in a plastic (preferably bioplastic) bag and send it to recycling centres after properly washing them.

However, one better option is to avail of the buyback or refilling options that are offered by a number of contemporary cosmetic brands. Hence, conscious consumer choices become important from the consumer end. 

As regards the biodegradability of expired lotions, it is stated that lotion bottles are not biodegradable as they are made from plastics but lotions can be if they are made from natural ingredients and do not contain harmful chemicals such as parabens or triclosan. 

The least preferred way to dispose of expired lotions is to dispose of them in garbage cans. This is very likely to cause environmental problems as the lotion contents can seep into the ground and cause water and soil pollution. 

Frequently Asked Question: How to recycle expired lotions?

How long do lotions usually last?

The exact duration varies from brand to brand. As a rough idea, the duration may range from 12-24 months. After that, it is not advisable to use lotions. 

What are some of the brands that have a green approach?

As per studies, brands such as Rush, Vapour, RMS beauty, Eco minerals, and Biome are regarded as sustainable due to the green steps taken by their manufacturers. 

References

  • Go-Go Eco.6 Of The Best Zero Waste Makeup Brands For 2022. Retrieved from: https://go-go-eco.com/best-zero-waste-makeup/

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