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Meet Pact, a Nonprofit That Aims to Unify the Beauty Industry and Tackle Waste

The organization's first initiative officially kicks off tomorrow.

Mia Davis and Victor Casale — both players in beauty’s “clean” movement — have founded a recycling program: Pact.

Officially launching Thursday, on Earth Day, the nonprofit intends to service the beauty industry and help reduce toxic pollution in the environment.

“Victor and I were talking a lot about the problems with hard to recycle packaging,” said Davis, the vice president of sustainability and impact at Credo Beauty. The two met through a mutual friend about a year ago and immediately decided to partner. “We both had a very deep passion, and we wanted to take action.”

Casale, cofounder of vegan and eco-minded cosmetic brand MOB Beauty (with Alisha Gallagher, Béatrice Séguin and Steve Blanchet), was formerly at MAC Cosmetics, where he ran the brand’s recycling program as chief chemist and managing director 30 years ago.

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“[We were] taking all the materials back from all of our retail partners, physically recycling it ourselves,” he said. “And we created various components. I could never figure out why the industry never got behind it.”

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Pact is a fresh start to tackle the problem.

The start-up, a membership organization, looks to recycle components that are typically hard to recycle — including parts that are small, use mixed or flexible materials — and enable packaging designers and manufacturers to take recyclability into greater account. The overall aim, while promoting transparency and working alongside recycling companies (like New York-based Reverse Logistics), is for the industry to come together to upcycle or reuse a much greater percentage of beauty materials.

“There are some estimates that 120 billion cosmetic packages are made annually and only a fraction of those are recyclable, a tiny fraction that are refillable or reusable,” Davis said. “Most of them are made of virgin plastic. So, we’re extracting oil and gas from the ground, turning it into petrochemicals, new plastic. It’s a dirty process, and it’s inherently unsustainable.”

Pact’s other founding partners are Hudson’s Bay, the Canadian department store chain, and Element Packaging, the Florida-based beauty packaging supplier.

“What it does is it brings three parts of the supply chain for our industry together, to work together to help create solutions of circularity and reduction of waste, and that’s never been done before,” Casale said.

Starting Thursday, a Pact recycling bin will be found in all 10 Credo Beauty stores and in 20 Hudson’s Bay locations in Canada. (Credo shoppers are able to receive 10 reward points for every product recycled.) A mail-in recycling program is also in the works.

Consumers are encouraged to drop off any of their empty beauty containers, no matter the brand: all pumps and caps; plastic tubes; lipsticks and lip glosses; eye and lip pencils; mascara tubs; plastic compacts; colored glass bottles and jars, as well as plastic bottles and jars “smaller than a yogurt cup.”

“We’re doing this to really, hopefully, create a unified initiative, to come together and efficiently make this work for all of us, packaging suppliers, brands, manufacturers and retail partners,” Casale added. “And you know what, the fourth one that most people don’t necessarily connect is also the consumer. This is a shared responsibility.”