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Boots pays consumers £5 to recycle just 5 empty beauty containers

Pip Gerrard tries out the new boots beauty recycling scheme in Scotland
Environment reporter Pip Gerrard tries out the beauty recycling scheme in Boots, Aberdeen. Picture by Kenny Elrick

North and north-east locations of high street store Boots are now offering £5 to all shoppers who return at least five empty beauty containers for recycling.

The money comes in the form of 500 Advantage Points which are loaded onto a Boots Advantage Card for spending in any of their stores.

Normally you would have to spend more than £120 to earn that many points, as you typically receive four points for every £1 you spend.

recycling at Boots, Aberdeen
You need to recycle five items to qualify for the reward points. Picture by Kenny Elrick.

Can I recycle in any Boots store?

Boots first launched its recycling scheme in 2020 as a trial, with 50 stores offering loyalty points for returning all sorts of beauty packaging.

The scheme proved a success and as of last month, is now available at more than 700 stores across the country.

This includes Boots stores in Aberdeen at the Bon Accord Centre, Union Square and Garthdee.

Elsewhere, Boots on Inverurie’s Market Place, Elgin’s High Street and at the Eastgate Centre in Inverness also offer the scheme.

At the moment, it seems that smaller Boots Pharmacy stores are not included.

Currently, you’ll receive a £5 bonus until the end of March for handing in your empties, after this time the bonus will be £2.50.

What can I recycle?

From mascara to toothpaste tubes, all sorts of difficult to recycle health and beauty containers are accepted.

The empty containers also don’t need to have been purchased at or stocked by Boots.

Boots beauty recycling list

How does it work?

We tested out the service at the Bon Accord Centre store – but before you head into town, there are a few things you need to do first.

First off, to take advantage of the 500 points bonus worth a fiver, you’ll need an Advantage Card.

Boots beauty recycling scheme in action
You can’t just rock up in store with your items, there is a bit of organisation to be done first. Here, Pip takes photos of her items ready for dropping off at Boots.

I signed up online and it was quick and easy. You don’t need a physical card these days either, mine instantly appeared in the Boots app.

From here, you need to visit the Boots Scan2Recycle website

Create an account and add your Advantage Card number – this is how the points will be allotted to you.

Once you’ve done that, the website will ask you to scan the items by taking a photo of each one.

Scan2Recycle app for boots
Scanning an empty Clinique blusher on the Scan2Recycle website.

Now you’re finally ready to go into a store.

The recycling point is located near the No7 counter in each shop.

All you need to do is drop your items into the big bin and click “deposited” on the Scan2Recycle website.

It will ask you to scan a QR code on the side of the recycle point (this is to check you were actually in store and didn’t just toss them into a wheelie bin) and voila, a barcode with the 500 points will arrive in your emails.

Boots, Bon Accord Centre Aberdeen
Once you’ve done all the work online, dropping off the items in-store is a 30 second job. Picture by Kenny Elrick.

Setting all this up was a bit admin-heavy, but from now on it will be much easier – scan my items and go.

The only snag is that in order to receive the 500 points, you do need to make a purchase in-store.

Luckily in a place like Boots, this isn’t hard to do and I was already in the market for a new moisturiser.

Where do my empties go next?

More than a million products have already been recycled since the scheme began in 2020, according to Boots.

Store assistant Cindy Alexander from Boots in the Bon Accord Centre said she had been pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction of customers.

“Everyone has been very keen on it, I suppose it’s all to do with the way we live now and everyone caring a lot more about sustainability,” she said.

“The more people who know about it the better.”

The vast majority of beauty products are not accepted by local councils for kerbside recycling.

Recycling point in Boots, Aberdeen.
In all stores, the recycling point is located near the No7 counter. Picture by Kenny Elrick.

This is because they are made up of various difficult-to-recycle materials including plastic pumps, hard plastic lids, magnets, mirrors or fibres like brushes or mascaras.

At Boots beauty recycling however, once you’ve dropped your empties into the bins in-store, they’ll be taken to ReWorked where the materials will be washed and sorted, ready for recycling into new usable products as far as possible.

Any remaining multi-material items will be recycled into Stormboard, a composite construction board material, similar to plywood.

Organics will be processed through an industrial organics processor. Nothing goes to landfill and nothing is incinerated.

It is the first scheme of its kind in the UK to include so many products and cover such a wide geographical area.

Read about more schemes that offer recycling rewards: