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Let's Talk Trash

Let's Talk Trash

Step 1: How To Clean Your Products

Whether your products are going in curbside recycling or into a Pact Bin, finished product packaging must be clean and fully empty. Packaging that still has goop left can contaminate and damage equipment used by municipal recycling facilities (MRFs), resulting in gummed up recycling systems and negative environmental impacts. To avoid that, follow our cleaning tips for your empties below.

Packaging cleaning tips

  • Save a minimum of five empties before you clean. That way, you can clean multiple packages at once.
  • Take apart all caps, pumps, lids and closures so you properly clean each component.
  • Hot water and dish soap are your best cleaning friends.
  • Try to avoid running the water when you clean your empties to help reduce negative impact. We like to fill one big bowl or the sink with water and add all of the empties together to soak.
  • Straw brushes are great for cleaning tiny packaging, like caps and closures.
  • Tubes can be tricky to clean. The easiest way to clean tubes is to cut the top of the tube open, so you’ll be able to clean inside.
  • Mascara tubes are another tough one. We like to use a straw brush or a clean mascara wand to clean the inside with soap and hot water. Repeat a brush and rinse process until the clear water runs out of the tube.
  • Lipstick tubes are best cleaned with a small spatula or scoop. Roll the tube all the way up and scoop out as much product as you can, then use a small straw brush to scrub out any remaining product. Hot water is key here.

Step 2: Where do your products go?

What packaging goes in the trash?

  • Plastic containers #3, #4, #6 and #7 ( when larger than 2" x 2" or a yogurt cup/fist)
  • Broken glass
  • Dental Floss
  • Aerosol cans*
  • Sponges + Brushes
  • Single-use wipes
  • Plastic + foil safety seals
  • Plastic bag + wrappers
  • Plastic with foil/metal inlay
  • Nail polish + remover*
  • Toothbrushes

What packaging goes to recycling?

  • Plastic containers #1, 2 and 5 ( when larger than a yogurt cup/fist)
  • Stainless steel or aluminum
  • Clear or frosted glass jars and bottles
  • Cardboard & paper

What packaging goes to PACT?

  • Plastic bottles + jars smaller than a fist
  • Plastic + aluminum squeezable tubes
  • Ceramic + porcelain containers
  • Caps + closures
  • Pumps + dispensers
  • Droppers + applicators
  • Compacts + palettes
  • Lipstick/lip gloss tubes + applicators
  • Mascara tubes + wands
  • Plastic pencil components for eye/lip liner + brow pencils
  • Toothpaste tubes + dental floss containers
  • Silicone containers
  • Pouches

What happens when your products go to PACT?

So—What happens to the beauty packaging we collect and send off to PACT COLLECTIVE? This is the general hierarchy—best possible outcome to least favorable — that Pact prioritizes.

  • Upcycled into another product (e.g. packaging, carpet, pallets for warehouses)
  • Downcycled into a lower value item (e.g. asphalt)
  • Molecularly recycled (e.g reduced to chemical monomers that can then be used to build something else)
  • Waste-to-energy (packaging that cannot be used in any other way is burned. Pact doesn’t consider this recycling but at least it isn’t in the landfill or environment)

Thanks for all your help in making our PACT recycling program a huge success! 


Team W&W