Aveda Cuts Waste in Half, Recycling Rates Fall

Aveda’s latest Sustainability Report reveals that the company has cut in half its municipal waste at its main manufacturing plant. However, its total recycling and reuse rate has fallen by 16 percent.

While its overall recycling rate fell by 16 percent, Aveda's cap recycling program has been widely successful, with more than 488,000 bottle caps recycled. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

Chuck Bennett, vice president, Aveda Earth and Community Care, attributes the decline to an increase in usage of paper materials.

“All waste went down and corrugate recycling increased, so the reason that recycling declined is that fewer materials became waste that needed to be recycled or reused,” he says.

Between 2008 and 2010, municipal waste output from Aveda’s headquarters in Blaine, Minn. was reduced by 48 percent to 250,900 pounds. Additionally, the company reduced its hazardous waste by 5 percent.

However, the report reveals that Aveda released into its plant’s wastewater an excess amount allowed by the U.S. EPA of glycol ethers, an ingredient often used in cleaning compounds, liquid soaps and cosmetics. According to Aveda, the U.S. EPA, so far, has taken no corrective action against the company.

Bennett says the company “is currently looking at opportunities to reduce the use of glycol ethers in our operations.”

While missteps cited in the report are a blip on its scorecard, Aveda has, over the years, been ahead of other major cosmetics companies in its commitment to sustainability. Aveda has been a long-time supporter of plant-based and nontoxic ingredients, and it was one of the first companies to offer consumer-driven take-back programs for makeup containers and plastic bottle caps.

According to Evan Miller, director of Global Communications for Aveda, the company’s cap recycling program is stronger than ever. Recycle Caps with Aveda partners with community schools and suppliers to develop new ways to make new caps from recycled bottle caps it accepts, including the often hard-to-recycle plastic #5 caps that are commonly found on shampoo, water, soda and milk bottles; pharmaceutical lids, flip-top caps, laundry detergent caps and jar lids.

Miller says more than 1,600 schools are enrolled in the program, and by working with Aveda retail stores and salons nationwide, the company has collected more than 488,000 bottle caps to date.

The program shows no signs of slowing, and Bennett says the company is continually evaluating opportunities to “comprehensively live its mission.”

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