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The Body Shop buys 250 tonnes of recycled plastic in bid to tackle pollution

The scheme will also help to empower waste pickers in India

Sarah Young
Friday 10 May 2019 13:14 BST
The beauty Industry's problem with plastic: is it doing enough?

The Body Shop is stepping up its sustainability efforts with the launch of a new scheme designed to benefit both people and the planet.

In a bid to tackle plastic pollution, the high street beauty chain has announced it will purchase 250 tonnes of Community Trade recycled plastic from Bengaluru, India, to use in nearly three million 250ml haircare bottles by the end of 2019.

This marks the start of a wider ambition, which is to introduce Community Trade Recycled plastic across all plastic used by The Body Shop within three years.

The brand will also be relaunching its in-store Recycle Rewards scheme, whereby customers can earn vouchers for bringing in their used bottles.

Aside from helping fight pollution, the new scheme – which has been launched in collaboration with ethical sourcing platform Plastics For Change – will also serve to empower people.

The recycled plastic which is being purchased by The Body Shop will be sourced via a local partner called Hasiru Dala which fights for waste picker rights.

According to the retailer, plastic pollution has given rise to 1.5m people known as “waste pickers”, who collect the waste to earn money.

The Body Shop hopes that by using the abundant resource of recyclable plastic that already exists, it will not only tackle the existing problem, but also help to empower waste pickers with access to more sanitary working conditions, a fair price and the respect and recognition they deserve.

The new scheme means workers will also get help in accessing services such as education, financial loans and healthcare.

Annamma, a former waste picker and current dry waste collection centre manager in Bengaluru, says she has been picked waste since she was a child and that it 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,” Annamma says.

“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.”

Lee Mann, global community trade manager for The Body Shop, explains that this new scheme is in line with the principles the store has continuously championed since its inception.

“As a company, we’ve always had the conviction to stand up for our principles when it comes to helping empower people, especially women, while protecting our planet,” Mann says.

“Our new partnership with Plastics for Change and our other partners will not only help support waste pickers but also champion plastic as a valuable, renewable resource when used responsibly.”

As part of the new initiative, The Body Shop is also bringing back its in-store recycle and re-fill scheme in partnership with innovative recycling company TerraCycle.

As of 5 June, for every five empty bottles you return to a Body Shop store, you'll be given a £5 voucher to spend.

You can also recycle other branded beauty products but this will not entitle donors to the Recycle Rewards scheme.

All empty packaging given to The Body Shop is sorted by TerraCycle before being repurposed and recycled into raw materials for new products.

You can find a full list of participating UK stores here.

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