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How to recycle your nail salon waste

By Rebecca Hitchon | 18 March 2024 | Expert Advice, Feature, Sustainability & the environment

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With a number of day-to-day considerations to navigate, how you manage your salon waste can often be pushed to the back of your mind.

But it’s easier than you think to respect the environment through your work, as we highlight through our roundup of recycling schemes and tips.


RecycLeBelle is a scheme launched by beauty product distributor, Louella Belle, that receives and recycles old product bottles from any brand, including gel, nail polish and nail treatment bottles. Nail product packaging is often made of a variety of materials, making recycling very difficult, therefore most local recycling programmes do not accept nail product bottles.

“I recognised that the beauty industry contributes in a big way towards landfills, so spearheaded the RecycLeBelle initiative,” comments Jamie Crook, joint CEO of Louella Belle. “It is a big step towards being more mindful of recycling and making being sustainable as easy and enticing as possible for customers.

“A tech will undoubtedly be aware of the waste that is generated from a full day of clients. A busy day can result in bags of waste that end up in landfill. Through being mindful and recycling what you can, collectively we can make a difference.”

Through RecycLeBelle, Louella Belle customers can return any four empty bottles, with a small amount of residue being acceptable, in a prepaid envelope. They will then receive 15% off their next order.

More information on RecycLeBelle can be found here.

Green Salon Collective

Founded by environmental experts, campaigners and beauty professionals, Green Salon Collective (GSC) supports its members in responsibly disposing of their salon waste. Materials like nail foils, files and excess polish can be recycled by GSC. For example, it can generate clean energy from nail polish when processing it though its waste to energy service.

I recommend that nail businesses join our free information session to learn more about us, then we can go through a bespoke starter kit for their salon,” comments Paul Seaward, co-founder of Green Salon Collective. “We can show salons how they can gain new clients from being part of GSC, in addition to becoming a zero to landfill salon.”

Register your interest here, and watch Scratch‘s interview with Paul about how beauty businesses can face their waste here.

British Beauty Council recycling map

The British Beauty Council (BBCo) is helping consumers to navigate the world of beauty recycling with an interactive map, which allows them to input their location into the finder to be shown their closest beauty recycling points. These include drop-off points for UK retailers such as Holland & Barrett, the Estée Lauder Companies, the Body Shop, Superdrug and L’Occitane.

The BBCo also welcomes additional UK beauty businesses, including those that offer recycling-by-post-options, to get involved with the map by emailing

Click here to explore the map.

Choose brands that manage waste the right way

“Salons and therapists are in the driving seat, so have confidence to ask for what you want from your favourite brands and if it is not forthcoming, consider different brands,” comments Christine Lawson, sustainability affairs manager at the Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA). “If enough people challenge the brands they use, transparency will increase as will the drive for us all to be more sustainable.

“Determine whether the brands you use hold the same values as you, to build trust in and understanding of your supply chain. No one wants to be misled, therefore you will need to be confident in your suppliers so that you can speak with confidence to your clients.”

Christine recommends that beauty businesses ask brands whether their waste can be easily recycled by municipal collection (i.e. through the local council). If it requires specialist collection, you should ask whether the brand tracks what happens to the waste collected.

The CTPA’s five steps for implementing recycling into your business:

  1. Speak with your suppliers – you’ll probably find plenty of other businesses do too.
  2. Determine what waste you have, for example packaging, gloves, applicators etc.
  3. Identify what you can change so that there is a recyclable option available, and so that you produce less waste.
  4. Find facilities or schemes that are available for the collection of your waste.
  5. Learn what happens after the waste is collected and if it is meaningfully recycled (if the material, energy and time invested in an item can still be deemed as useful).