Aveda Aims for Zero Waste: Pilots Packaging Take-Back Program in Colorado


Image: Rachel Cernansky

As of yesterday, Coloradoans have a way to recycle packaging items that are not accepted by their curbside collection program. With the support of the city of Denver, Aveda launched its take-back program—the latest step toward its 2020 goal of becoming a zero-waste company. Aveda is piloting the program in Colorado, and will roll it out nationwide next year. It's exciting to see a major brand working to supplement municipal recycling programs and to take responsibility for its entire product line and waste stream.

A Denver city councilwoman, the director of Greenprint Denver, a program based out of the mayor's office, and Denver Recycles all showed up on a Wednesday morning to support the program launch.

Colorado residents are now encouraged to continue recycling most items locally, through curbside collection, but to recognize that some items aren't accepted—and tossing them into the city's recycling bin is not going to improve anything. (On the contrary, contaminating the recycling stream decreases both the efficiency and effectiveness of the recycling process.)

But now, sending them to the landfill isn't the only option. Items like pumps, tubes, and jars are usually not recycled by municipal facilities, but under the new program, Aveda will collect these items for recycling, often into new packaging for its own products. (Aveda already uses recycled packaging for some products. This new closed-loop system is a major feat, as anyone who has done any digging into plastics recycling will know.)

Setting Higher Standards
Aveda's Shermagne Carr said the goal of the take-back program "is to hold ourselves accountable for the products we make."

City Councilwoman Jeanne Robb spoke at the Aveda store about the disconnect between environmental and economic issues—and set the record straight. "We're not telling people to stop buying," she said. "We want to stimulate the economy. Being environmentally conscious is good for the economy."

She lauded public-private partnerships such as the one Aveda has been developing with Denver. And because of the kinds of products Aveda makes, she pointed out: "this is going to be the best-smelling recycling program in the country."

Considering that less than 33 percent of the waste produced in the U.S. is recycled, with an even lower percentage for plastic products—about 14 percent—this is a big step forward.

The take-back program is the "logical next step toward achieving a closed-loop system and exemplifying our Cradle to Cradle endorsement," said Chuck Bennett, Aveda's VP of Earth & Community Care. "When looking to launch the program, we couldn't think of a better state than Colorado because of its citizens' unwavering dedication to their community and the environment."

Hopefully other manufacturers will follow suit.

More on zero waste
Footprints in Waste Management: Taking Steps toward Zero Waste
Can a Whole City Go Zero Waste?
Zero Waste--The Newest Eco-Fashion Innovation?
ne More Reason Why Zero Waste Is Important: That Plastic Bag Takes 1,000+ Years to Decompose

Tags: Colorado | Denver | Green Packaging | Recycled Consumer Goods | Recycling | Zero Waste