Global Recycling Day – honoured annually on 18 March – aims to raise awareness of the importance of recycling for preserving and securing a healthy future for our planet, and was founded by the Global Recycling Foundation in 2018.
The mission set out by the foundation is two-fold. Firstly, to inform world leaders of the importance of recycling. Secondly, to ask people to consider our finite resources when it comes to the goods around us.
The theme for this year’s event is #RecyclingHeroes and it aims to recognise the people, places and activities that highlighting how critical recycling is for maintaining an environmentally stable planet, and to make sure we can all benefit from a greener future.
The people selected as #RecyclingHeroes, for example, are using their voices, influence and fame to inspire others, and include everyone from Sir David Attenborough and Leonardo DiCaprio to activists Hannah Testa and Nakabuye Hilda Flavia.
Now, more than ever, it’s important we all do our part. If we don’t, by 2050 there could be more plastic, by weight, than fish in the sea. Less than 10 per cent of all plastic ever produced has been recycled.
But that’s not all. According to Wrap, an estimated £140m worth of wearable clothing is sent to landfill each year in the UK and demand for raw materials is expected to triple by 2050.
And the beauty industry is not much better either, with most products coming packaged in virgin plastics, meaning they cannot be easily recycled.
If you’re wondering how you can do your bit, we’re shining a light on the brands that are on hand to help.
Some of our all-time favourite companies offer take-back schemes to help you recycle unwanted clothing, beauty products and tech. What’s more, they are even rewarding you to do so.
While many of them only offer an in-store service, which they cannot currently run while non-essential shops remain closed, it’s worth bookmarking this page and returning to it when they reopen. And remember, the three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – are the words to live by if you’re looking to reduce your impact on the planet.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
One of our all-time favourite high street brands, & Other Stories specialises in bringing Scandi vibes to the masses at accessible price points. In a bid to help reduce the environmental footprint of the fashion world, an industry that has developed a “dangerous addiction” to fossil fuels, the brand is doing its bit by engaging in more sustainable and circular practices. As such, its in-store recycling programme means you can return beauty packaging, pre-loved clothing and textiles to any of its locations. Do this and you’ll receive a 10 per cent off voucher.
Here at IndyBest we love Apple products, be that the iPad, Apple Watch, iPhone or MacBook. So we’ve come to know and love Apple’s trade-in service. Take an eligible device in-store and you’ll receive credit towards your next purchase. If it’s not eligible for credit, Apple will recycle it for free.
Part of the H&M group, Arket launched its take-back scheme in all stores in 2019. In a bid to encourage you to recycle unwanted clothing, textiles and shoes, the fashion brand will give you 10 per cent off your next purchase in its stores or cafés.
The beauty retailer and chemist is a stalwart of the high street, and together with its own-brand No7, Boots is helping you do your bit with its recycling scheme. There’s no denying our beauty, health and wellness products are extremely difficult to recycle at home, often due to the materials they are made from, so take your empties into a Boots store and you’ll receive 500 advantage card points (equal to £5) for every five products recycled.
From Kate Middleton to Kate Moss, just about everyone has a pair of Hunter wellington boots, and now UK customers can benefit from the brand’s ReBoot scheme. Simply package up your old boots and book a free collection via its partner RecycleBox. In return you’ll receive a 15 per cent discount code. What happens to your old boots? Well, they are processed, shredded and transformed into playground surfacing, roads and a range of upcycled materials. Pretty impressive.
Exclusively available to My John Lewis members, the department store has partnered with TerraCycle to recycle your beauty products as part of its BeautyCycle scheme. With the beauty industry producing approximately 120 billion units of packaging every year, with much of it not recyclable at home, you can now take your empties into your local store. Bring in five or more beauty products and you’ll receive £5 off your next order.
The makers of one of our favourite face oils – Kiehl’s midnight recovery concentrate (£54, Kiehls.co.uk) – the cult skincare brand uses post-consumer materials and recycles and reuses wherever possible. In a bid to encourage you to do the same, it has a Recycle and Be Rewarded programme. For every empty Kiehl’s product or any brand of body and skincare plastic packaging that you bring into store, you’ll receive a stamp on your loyalty card. Bring in five and you’ll get 5 per cent off a product of your choice; collect 10 stamps and get 10 per cent off a product, or a complimentary travel-size product of your choice.
Producing natural beauty, skincare and organic cosmetics, L’Occitane’s products are inspired by the south of France, and the brand is dedicated to being good to the environment. Its recycling programme, in partnership with TerraCycle, means when you bring in an empty beauty or skincare product from any brand, you’ll receive 10 per cent off a new full-price product.
Cruelty-free beauty brand Lush is yet another retailer that is leading by example and doing its bit for the planet wherever it can. Firstly, it uses alternatives to plastic wherever possible. But its signature black pots are made from recycled plastic and cannot be recycled in the usual way, so if you bring back five of them to a store, you’ll be rewarded by receiving a complimentary fresh face mask (from £9, Lush.com). Alternatively, return just one empty and receive 50p off your next purchase.
As part of its “shwopping” scheme, you can take any of your old and unwanted M&S clothes, shoes, bras and accessories to an Oxfam store and you’ll receive a £5 M&S voucher to spend across fashion and homeware.
The creator of was is now the world-famous velvet teddy lipstick (£17.50, Maccosmetics.co.uk) (thanks to the Kardashian/Jenner clan), Mac Cosmetics has been running its Back 2 Mac recycling scheme for a number of years. Return six containers from the brand to a Mac counter and you’ll receive a free lipstick of your choice – we’d obviously choose the aforementioned signature shade.
Any of your old clothes can be recycled in any Monki store anywhere in the world. Every year, 350,000 tonnes of wearable clothes, equivalent to the value of £140 million, end up in UK landfills. As such, Monki has partnered with I:CO, a provider that collects recycled textiles and shoes, to give your unwanted garments a second life. Put your textiles, of any condition, into a bag and take it into a store, and, as a thank you, you’ll receive 10 per cent off your next purchase.
Whether you started running in lockdown or you’re a seasoned marathon pro, you’ll know the importance of having a great pair of running shoes – but you will also know that they can be a costly purchase. Runner’s Need is – pardon the pun – running a promotion that means if you recycle your old running trainers at a Soex recycling station you’ll receive a £20 voucher towards your new pair. You will need proof you have recycled them, which is done by sending a photo of you and your old shoes to the team.
Do you love trainers, but are running out of space in your wardrobe? Or perhaps you’ve just worn yours down and they’re no longer suitable? Fear not, because as part of its Sell Your Soles scheme, Schuh is offering you the chance to take your old treads in-store in exchange for £5 off your next pair. This also applies to kids shoes, so when their old school sneaks no longer fit, make sure you benefit from the discount.
Chances are you’re as a big a fan of Uniqlo’s basics as we are. As part of its Re.Uniqlo initiative, the brand reuses your recycled materials – the down and feathers go into new clothing items, while needs-appropriate clothing is given to refugees and displaced people across the globe. In return for your old jackets and accessories, you’ll receive £10 off your next order.
Treat your skin while shopping sustainably with our review of the best circular beauty brands
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.