Beauty Laid Bare: The 'gritty' truth about your cosmetics



Image result for Beauty Laid Bare: The 'gritty' truth about your cosmeticsFrom problems with recycling to glitter particles in our oceans, what’s the environmental impact of the beauty industry?
Beauty Laid Bare
You probably do it automatically now you pop your empty moisturizers, lip glosses, and concealers into the recycling bin at home and know you've done your little bit for the planet.
You probably assumed all those plastic containers were easily recyclable and fair enough.
But a new documentary series is shedding light on the harm our obsession with cosmetics could be causing to the environment and showing why the packaging from many of our favorite beauty products can't be so easily recycled.
For BBC Three's Beauty Laid Bare, four people three obsessed with make-up and one who's generally against it – investigated some of the biggest challenges facing the cosmetics industry today.

Why can't my make-up packaging be recycled?

In San Francisco, two of the group meet campaigner Shilpi Chhotray, from the group Break Free From Plastic, an ecology expert Martin Bourque.
Since 1950, only 9% of the world's plastic waste has been recycled. Around 12% is burned. The majority of it ends up in landfills or out in nature, which includes the plastic in our oceans.
"And it's being dumped in areas like South East Asia," Shilpi says.
"The US has been shipping its waste overseas for decades," she says. Shilpi shows a video of a place in Indonesia that she says used to be a pristine agricultural area, but is now essentially a "toxic dumpsite".
The burning of plastic waste in Indonesia has been linked to cancer and respiratory problems. 
Martin, meanwhile, points out that some cosmetic products are made from unrecyclable types of plastic and this is where its color really matters.
Recycling black plastic products is tricky because recycling plants sort different types of plastic by bouncing a beam of light off them.
As black plastic absorbs light, it doesn't get sorted and instead is sent off to landfill or to be incinerated.
"The idea that we've created is that you can throw [all your recycling] in one bin and in the land of unicorns and fairies, the magic will happen," Martin says. "The reality is much grittier than that."

Back in the UK, Stuart Foster the chief executive officer of recycling charity RECOUP – tells BBC Three that size is a big reason why some cosmetics can't be recycled, with many being too small to be identified and processed by existing mass-recycling technology.
It's not an exact science but smaller items such as lipsticks, lip glosses, and small bottles won't necessarily get sorted with the other plastic bottles, pots, tubs, and trays, he says.
And when these products can't be repurposed, many end up being incinerated to be converted into energy.
"While it's not as good as recycling, in the UK they're at least doing something more with plastic than just putting it in a hole in the ground."
Cosmetics containing microplastics and glitter are a problem as well, according to Stuart, "because there's no way of stopping them from leaking through into the environment."
"It does make me feel quite guilty because I'm constantly just throwing these items in the bin and thinking, 'OK, that will be recycled and brought back to life again'," says Chloe, a make-up artist, and influencer from Belfast who visited the San Francisco recycling plant.
"But most of the stuff that I use probably isn't being recycled," she says. "I feel like I need to take action because there's not going to be enough room on this world for all this extra stuff."

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