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MAC's recycling program will 'pay' you to send back your old lipstick tubes

"The crisis just gets worse and worse."

BACK 2 MAC program, MAC lipstick

Photo Credit: iStock

Wearing lipstick to help save the planet? MAC's making it happen with its BACK 2 M·A·C take-back program.

The makeup industry is notorious for its plastic waste. But makeup lovers take note: MAC Cosmetics' new take-back program can help you save money and the planet by reducing your plastic footprint. 

What is the BACK 2 MAC take-back program?

As one of the biggest global makeup brands with products sold in more than 120 countries, MAC has every reason to look at its environmental impact. 

Enter: the Back to MAC take-back program. The program, which rewards customers for returning their empty makeup containers, has been going on for over 30 years.

"Like many, at MAC we care about the planet and are doing our part to help improve our environmental impact," Philippe Pinatel, MAC's global brand president, said in a statement. "We are continuing to design with the environment in mind, making smarter, more responsible packaging choices without compromising our iconic packaging aesthetics and performance."

How the program works

Signing up for the program is easy — you can do it in-store or online. From there, you can send back your empty makeup containers either via mail or by taking them to one of the participating MAC store counters. After you return six empties in a calendar year, MAC offers you a free tube of lipstick. 

According to MAC, the returned containers are then properly recycled. This is important because less than 5% of the 51 million tons of plastic produced in the U.S. ends up getting recycled the correct way. 

Why the Back to MAC program matters

Many cosmetics containers are made of single-use plastics, meaning they can't be easily recycled at home. And according to Fortune, one billion tubes of lipstick get thrown out each year.

According to Greenpeace's senior plastics campaigner, Lisa Ramsden, single-use plastics are like "trillions of pieces of confetti spewed from retail and fast food stores to over 330 million U.S. residents across more than 3 million square miles each year." 

In Greenpeace's report, Ramsden said that it's simply not possible to collect all of these small pieces of plastic. 

"More plastic is being produced, and an even smaller percentage of it is being recycled," she added. "The crisis just gets worse and worse, and, without drastic change, will continue to worsen as the industry plans to triple plastic production by 2050." 

Olga Kachook, senior manager of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, recently praised MAC's efforts in tackling cosmetic plastic waste. Kachook told Beauty Packaging that the

Back-To-MAC program is "a great example" of a company leaning into the challenges and working to build meaningful solutions. 

"We applaud MAC Cosmetics for their continued dedication to the Back-To-MAC program," she said. "And we hope it helps create a place for cosmetics packaging in the circular economy."

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