Right now, half of my skincare shelf is full of empties: moisturisers I’ve squeezed the last drop out of, sunscreen tubes I’ve cut open for a couple more dollops, and pretty glass bottles I have no more use for.

They aren’t like empty milk cartons, cardboard boxes and water bottles, though – cosmetics packaging can’t be recycled through most council programs, and thus don’t belong in kerbside recycling.

There are solutions, but not all are convenient. Terracycle is a US-based waste disposal company that collects hard-to-recycle items such as metals, glass, fabrics, electronics, coffee capsules and, yes, beauty packaging. You can order a box to fill up, send it back to the company, and know your rubbish is being recycled properly. But it’s a tricky thing to remember, and a small box for cosmetics packaging costs a whopping $200 (ouch).

Two large retailers are making it easier to send your skincare and make-up empties to Terracycle, and they’re offering the service for free.

Today, both Mecca and David Jones have announced partnerships with Terracycle to coincide with Earth Day 2021. Both retail chains will give customers new avenues for recycling their empty beauty packaging so they don’t end up in landfill.

More than 100 Mecca stores across Australia will be running the program from April 27. The beauty giant began trialling its partnership with Terracycle in a small selection of stores in October 2019 – since then, it says 1024 kilograms or around 10,000 empty containers have been recycled. Mecca stores will have either designated metal recycling bins or customers can hand their empties to staff.

At David Jones, its Beautycycle initiative will see drop-off points positioned in different parts of the store for customers to drop finished beauty packaging into. It will be accepting soft and rigid plastic, pumps, glass bottles, jars, pots, masks, foundation bottles, palettes and lipsticks, among others. It launches in all David Jones stores today (April 22).

Terracycle then sorts the different kinds of plastic, which are then shredded, melted down and turned into plastic pellets that can be used to make new products in the future. It operates in 21 countries and has rediverted over 40 tonnes of beauty waste across all its partner programs globally.