Cat Meffan


recycled plastic

The talk around plastic and recycling is getting ever bigger, which is exactly the way we need to be moving, if we're to ever make a positive impact on our planet. I've been working with The Body Shop for a few years now, and have been using the brand since I was about 7 years old. I have to admit that as brands start evolving into more sustainable ways of working, I was waiting for The Body Shop to join in from a plastic point of view, especially as this is everything they stand for as a brand and everything that their founder, Anita Roddick set out to do. Sell a good product, whilst also doing good and making change in the world. 

Well, it turns out that The Body Shop has been very hard at work for the last few years, putting into place a partnership with Plastics For Change that will see the brand not only move into using recycled plastic for their bottles, but also to help many hundreds of waste picking workers in India as they do so. 

The Body Shop has always been paving the way for change, launching Trade Not Aid (now known as their Community Trade programme) in 1987, becoming the first brand in 1997 to be recognised under Cruelty Free International's Leaping Bunny standard, and more recently gathering over 8.3 million signatures to take their Cruelty Free petition to the UN.

Rather than take plastic out of the process entirely, The Body Shop has been working to do something a little different, so that they can keep their promise to help local communities. By partnering with Plastics For Change, The Body Shop now has direct business with Waste Management sites in India, and will continue to buy recycled plastic from them at an agreed price to make sure that the workers are getting paid a fair wage and that their working conditions start to improve over the course of the partnership.

3 billion people around the world are living without formal waste management, which is what brought The Body Shop to India, as they have 1.5 million waste pickers. Some of the world’s poorest people are picking the waste, many of them women, often living below the poverty line, yet they play such a critical role in helping solve our plastic crisis, stopping it from entering the oceans and rivers.

The community trade recycled plastic mission will start with the 250ml haircare bottles, as these are some of The Body Shop's fastest selling products. By working with Plastics For Change, they will be supporting up to 2,500 waste pickers, who will benefit from better working conditions, fair pay, respect and the recognition for their hard work that they deserve. In 2019 The Body Shop will purchase 250 tonnes of recycled plastic, upping that to 500 tonnes in 2020, allowing them to grow their use of it in the product range.

Since being founded by Andrew Almack in 2010 after noticing the crisis in South Asia, Plastics For Change has been working hard to create a seamless supply chain where all parties involved are able to benefit, not just the big players at the end of the chain. With their technology platform, long-standing relationships and want for a better world, they are able to give The Body Shop access to workers in India, provide a fast and efficient service, make sure everyone gets paid a fair price and can make sure the plastic quality is what’s needed for The Body Shop.

Whilst in India last month with The Body Shop, I got to meet all of the people behind this partnership and was able to talk to the waste pickers and some of the local businessmen, running the water picking sites. The amount of hard work that has gone into making this happen is clear to see and knowing that good is being done for the local communities is a huge step in the right direction. Though The Body Shop won’t be cutting plastic out of their packaging, I can see how this is a good transition, as not only is it helping to get plastic off of the streets and into recycling, but it’s also helping some of the poorest people out there, find an identity, be able to open a bank account, provide for their families and live & work in better conditions.

As well as all of this, The Body Shop has partnered with TerraCycle, so that we can now take our empty bottles back to store for them to be recycled properly.

Of course there are other options that The Body Shop will continue to look into, like refillable bottles and other ways of packaging, but after three years of research and looking into this, they are making another positive shift in the way we consume and the way we understand where our products are coming from.

We can all do our bit to help make the planet a happier place, it's just about making those small changes every single day, being more mindful of what we're consuming and always being open to learning more.

To read more about this partnership, please keep reading via the links below:

The Body Shop Recycled Plastic

The Body Shop In-Store Recycling

Plastics For Change

Hasiru Dala Innovations