January 18, 2022

What to do with empty nail polish pots

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Nail polish only comes in small bottles. It is fantastic for carrying in your handbag to ensure you can pull out a bottle in an emergency situation but let’s face it, it means that we go through a lot of bottles of nail polish. Of course, if they came in large tubs we couldn’t have so many different varieties in our home either. As they come in small pots I have over 20 pots at one time. The only difficulty with these small pots is on the environmental side. I go through many and the consensus on recycling is far from clear. So can you recycle nail polish pots or does it go in the standard bin?

According to many retailers, it is simple. There is a recycle symbol on the glass and they say that although the lid and brush can not be recycled the glass absolutely can be. However, when you talk to industry leaders they have a very different opinion. The chemicals used in nail polish are extremely strong and many argue that even if you clean the glass you will struggle to remove the chemical traces. Some experts in recycling saw that entire recyclables are thrown out when they are contaminated by a stray nail polish pot.

So what can you do? We talked to a number of retailers and they say that if you clean the nail polish pots with acetone thoroughly they can be recycled. This is probably worth doing if you have a large number you are getting rid of. However, most agree that the average consumer is not willing to go to great lengths to clean a small nail polish pot. This results in most of them not being recycled.

Recycling companies are happy about this fact too. If everyone recycles their nail polish pots the majority will not do it to a high standard. If people simply throw away their containers then it is the lesser of two evils. It appears then that there is some guidance but it is not so easy.

If you are truly caring about the environment you can deep clean your nail polish pots and then recycle them. If you are not willing to put in the effort then recycling the nail polish containers will do far more harm than good. The chemicals in them will contaminate many other materials and result in a loss of recycling, not a gain. The lid and brush can never be recycled. We spoke to a number of companies about these issues and they say they are working on it. They realize that it is difficult to recycle at present and are working to find a solution that will make it easier to recycle in the future.

In the meantime, you will simply have to recycle your nail polish pots in innovative ways. Perhaps you can use them to create some art on the wall instead? Or use them as some really terrible wind chimes? Whatever you decide it is important that you do not simply throw them in recycling after you have finished with them. The majority of pots have some traces of nail polish still inside and can wreak havoc. While some containers of other materials are ok to go in dirty, nail polish is not one.

Clean your nail polish containers incredibly well or forget about putting them in the recycling bin. If you don’t have the time or ability to clean them well then throw them in the bin or reuse them around the house in fun and interesting ways. Any challenge is just an opportunity to be creative.

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