Your salon probably disposes of a lot of stuff that cannot be recycled or composted. Examples include things like chemicals and personal protective equipment (PPE). It is likely that much of this ends up with the rest of your general waste but as you will see below this can put unnecessary pressure on British landfill sites. In this article you will learn about how you can minimise the negative environmental impacts of some of your salon’s non-recyclables (eg chemicals and PPE) as well as key ways to minimise your overall waste footprint.

Some things are non-recyclable but it is incredibly important to make sure those things do not end up in landfill. Read our article The problem with waste to understand why.

Reusability. Before looking for ethical ways to dispose of waste in your salon, it may be a good idea to consider the sources 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. You may want to look into the reusability of things like face masks, cups and mugs, even foil.

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, for example, are certified compostable and should definitely be disposed of in this way.

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).

Refillability It is definitely worth looking into brands that offer professional level products on refill. One example is OWAY (as in “Organic Way”) which has refills stations in all of their participating salons including:

Energy conversion. 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 the volume of trash we produce, 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!).

Green Salon Collective has even more solutions for your salon. Be sure to read our article, Waste to Energy.

This article was written for Green Salon Collective by MeetthefiveRs

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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


Cover photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Stephanie Hodgson

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