On World Fair Trade Day (marked on the second Saturday of May every year), The Body Shop launched its first Community Trade recycled plastic, in partnership with Plastics For Change, Hasiru Dala, and Hasiru Dala Innovations. Sourced from Bengaluru, this is part of Community Trade which is The Body Shop’s independently-verified fair-trade programme.

The company has started using Community Trade recycled plastic in its 250 ml haircare bottles. In 2019, it will purchase 250 tonnes of Community Trade recycled plastic to use in nearly three million 250 ml haircare bottles. The bottles will contain 100 per cent recycled plastic (excluding the bottle caps). While 15 per cent of that will be Community Trade recycled plastic, the remainder will be recycled plastic from European sources. By the end of 2019, this will account for nearly 3 million bottles. The target is to introduce Community Trade recycled plastic across all PET plastic used by The Body Shop by 2022.

To mark the launch of the recycled plastic, the company unveiled a giant artwork of a female Indian waste picker in London’s Borough Market. It was on public display on 10th and 11th May. The artwork was made using recycled plastic collected by waste pickers in Bengaluru.

Since the company is working with a start-up company and small waste-picker communities, it will scale up slowly and sustainably and increase the amount of Community Trade recycled plastic over time. The aim is to purchase over 900 tonnes of Community Trade recycled plastic and help empower up to 2,500 waste pickers in Bengaluru through fair compensation, stable income, and access to better working conditions, and services such as education, financial loans and healthcare.

In terms of timeline to scale this up, Shriti Malhotra, CEO, The Body Shop India, explained to CauseBecause that the company is currently doing a comprehensive review of sustainable packaging and exploring a variety of options. By 2030 the company expects to have a completely closed loop system for all its packaging – that is, recycling or re-purposing 100 per cent of packaging, mostly back into packaging or shop fixtures.

To ensure that waste pickers receive fair price for their labour, the company works with Plastics For Change and takes their guidance on compensation, using the closest government benchmarks. The organisation, in turn, works closely with non-profit Hasiru Dala and waste-picking communities on the ground to ensure that the price is a fair reflection of their work.

In India, The Body Shop has launched its in-store recycling programme – BBOB (Bring Back Our Bottles), encouraging customers to return empty plastic packaging in stores for recycling. It’s currently operational across 40 stores and is planned to be implemented across the country.