Metal and Plastic recyclable waste

How to minimise waste in your salon

Your hair salon probably disposes of a lot of stuff that cannot be recycled or composted, like chemicals or personal protective equipment (PPE). Unfortunately, most of this will end up in landfill sites or our waterways, as it goes through your general waste services. That’s why we’re here to help you reduce waste in your hair salon!


However, there are solutions out there! Plus, thanks to GSC, a lot of items that aren’t typically recycled by your local councils (like hair and salon foils) CAN be recycled and put to good use. We’ve even got a salon towel composting service - allowing you to bring your salon waste (and environmental impact) down to the absolute minimum. Sadly, the fact is that currently, some things just can’t be recycled. Yet, there’s still an important mission to prevent them from ending up in landfill, which we’re here to help with. 


Why not read our article ‘The Problem with Waste’ to understand more about why landfills aren’t the solution?


So, what can you do to reduce waste in your hair salon?


Reusability. Before looking for ethical ways to dispose of waste in your salon, it may be a good idea to consider the root source and whether there is anything your team can do to minimise your output to begin with. Finding products and even packaging that are reusable is a good start. Some examples that work in-salon are reusable mugs and cups instead of disposable, reusable gowns or colour mixing bowls. 


Repairability. Before investing in new kit for your salon, find out whether it can be repaired. Electronics, in particular, have a funny way of being designed so that only the same manufacturers can carry out repairs. Or worse yet you may encounter ‘planned obsolescence’ where something is designed to be useful for only a limited lifespan after which it is unfashionable or unusable. Start by looking for brands that offer repair services for their products.


Compostability. Compostable products and packaging are gaining traction. This is partly due to growing awareness of the poor state of our world’s soils and how compost can enrich them. It is also partly due to growing interest in closing the loop on biodegradable goods and ensuring that at the end of their utility they can be broken down and made useful again as compost.


Some disposable hair salon towels, like Scrummi and Easydry, are certified compostable and should definitely be disposed of in this way. At GSC we even have a towel composting service for certified compostable towels that aren’t contaminated (ie. with chemicals). Get started with towel composting services here. 


Recyclability. Choosing products and packaging that are recyclable is important, especially for those that cannot be reused, repaired or composted. One element to this category we think is worth noting is whether the material in question is infinitely recyclable and does not degrade with each processing (as with glass or most metals) or whether recycling is finite and results in lesser quality materials (as with paper and most plastics). 


By recycling your salon waste with Green Salon Collective, you can take part in the circular economy, as we reuse and recycle hair in over 10 different ways and can even recycle dirty hair foils, colour tubes and product cans. Get started with hair and metal recycling here. 


Refillability It is definitely worth looking into brands that offer professional level products on refill. Not only can you reduce prices by refilling existing packaging, your clients save money and can be encouraged to have more sustainable.


So, what is the end solution if the product can’t be recycled, reused, refilled or composted? No fear, there’s still a way to reduce your salon waste without it going to landfill!


Waste to Energy. Simply put, burning stuff creates energy. In an industrial process this involves incinerating waste at very high temperatures. The process releases heat which can be used for pretty much exactly that, heating homes and other interior spaces, or for electricity. When hazardous material is burned it becomes concentrated into ash and this can then be buried. Non-hazardous incinerated material that becomes ash can be put to work as aggregate or other building materials.


The beauty about waste-to-energy incineration is that while helping to reduce waste in your salon, the process can also begin to pay for itself as the electricity it generates is sold. The drawbacks are that good, clean facilities are incredibly expensive to build, especially those that are effective at capturing the pollutants released in the process, and that it can actually encourage waste production (but that is a whole other article!).


At Green Salon Collective, our general waste to energy service means that all your…

  • Contaminated salon towels
  • wax strips
  • wet tissues
  • cotton buds
  • Paper Not Foil (which cannot be recycled)
  • PPE
  • contaminated food packages
  • Excess colour & bleach 
  • Food (though you should be composting this!)


…will be turned into energy for the national grid, rather than ending up in landfill. Get started and turn your salon into a zero-waste to landfill salon here. 


We hope that this article has helped you to think about all the different ways that you can reduce waste in your salon, and help us make the hairdressing industry more sustainable!

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This article was written for Green Salon Collective by MeetthefiveRs and edited by Jess Rigg


References and further reading
  • First Mile’s article, Why is renewable energy so important?
  • Because Health’s article, Biodegradable vs compostable vs recyclable
  • The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Statistics on Waste
  • Let’’s article, Waste to landfill in England jumps 4% in 2019
  • BBC News article, Is it safe to live on a former landfill site?
  • First Mile’s article, 22 facts about renewable energy
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