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New Initiative Helps Safely Manage PPE Waste

Securing personal protection equipment (PPE) is one challenge for salon operations teams. Figuring out how to safely, affordably and effectively dispose of used PPE is another.

Some ISBN members and other salon, spa and barbershop leaders across the U.S. and Canada have turned to sustainability experts Green Circle Salons to help responsibly manage the added waste and give it a new life.

Green Circle Salons launched the PPE Recovery Initiative in mid-June 2020, and ISBN members Chatters Salons in Canada and Gene Juarez Salons and Spas in Seattle are two early adopters of the program, positioned as a natural extension of the waste management and sustainability services Green Circle Salons offers to leading salons across North America. Here’s the overview:

Challenge: Masks, gloves, capes, towels and face shields are all part of the new arsenal of single use materials being used daily inside personal service establishments, creating a pile of waste that is not recyclable and has the potential to contaminate the space.

Affordable solution: Green Circle Salons developed the PPE Recovery Initiative to keep this waste separated and safely disposed of while allowing businesses to showcase their environmental leadership. It’s a simple and affordable solution to a growing waste problem, explains Green Circle Salons Founder and CEO Shane Price.

“When we started the Green Circle Salons movement over a decade ago, our mission was to offer North America-wide sustainability solutions for our industry by 2020,” Price says, “Today we can support businesses in every zip and postal code to recover up to 95% of their beauty waste, and just as we reached this milestone a new challenge emerged. With the PPE Recovery Initiative, we can ensure that people are kept safe as they return to work without a single new item entering the landfill.”

Amplifying security was a big part of the reason ISBN member Chatters Hair Salon group added the PPE Recovery Initiative to all 115 locations across Canada in June, says Barb Sim, Chatters vice president of franchise operations and vendor relations.

When COVID hit, Chatters went into a very proactive mode with PPE and even worked with the provincial government to help set salon industry guidelines.

“We took a staggered approach to reopening our salons, updating our safety protocols to ensure both our guests and associates would be feeling comfortable,” says Chatters CEO and President Greg Moreau, also an ISBN board member. “Updates included mandatory PPE for all employees, fresh capes for each guest, disposable masks for guests and much more.”

Chatters went even further to focus on making stylists feel secure with masks, face shields and gloves and all the sanitation measures salons do so well, Sim adds. And it translated well. “Every day, we’d receive guest comments and feedback that the measures we had in place made them feel safe, feel good.”

When Green Circle Salons launched the PPE Recovery Initiative, it was a natural fit for Chatters, which counts being a green salon business an important part of its identity and strategy. Sim says it was also really easy to incorporate. “It’s just an additional box we put into our salons, added next to existing hair and foil bins, all fairly seamless,” she says.

Chatters maximizes the PPE Recovery Initiative’s green message of sustainability as well as emphasizing safety and sees benefits from both. But it really comes down to a matter of integrity, Sim explains.

“We let our guests know and remind our team of all the things we are doing throughout the salons to be responsible and green. We use EcoHeads shampoo nozzles to save water, our lighting is all LED, we continually upgrade our older salons and new builds to be efficient. Now we can communicate and market that we are even disposing of our PPE correctly, ensuring that all the efforts we make to recycle are not compromised. The integrity and safety of our materials remains intact, because we separate out PPE appropriately.”

Easy infographics help explain how Green Circle Salons’ PPE Recovery Initiative works.

Maximizing the investment, minimizing carbon footprint: While Chatters provides masks for all service guests (who are required to wear them), the staff use provided reusable masks, washed daily. That reduces the amount of PPE going into the box, making it last longer and be more affordable. When the box is full, the salon follows simple directions to package and apply a pre-paid label to ship to the destination where the PPE will be safely disposed of by Green Circle Salons in a program mindfully structured with carbon offsets to be carbon-neutral as well.

More financial support: In addition to offering affordable safe disposal kits, the PPE Recovery Initiative contains education around offsetting financial costs related to PPE, and marketing support to communicate the environmental leadership of businesses that responsibly manage their waste. There is also a new Health and Sustainability Calculator tool to help beauty businesses understand new costs of goods related to health and sustainability (including PPE and its recovery), and how an eco fee could be implemented to offset these costs and retain pre-COVID profit margins.

The PPE Recovery Initiative is available to all beauty businesses, including salons,
barbershops, manufacturers, distributors and more. Now beauty professionals and guests can feel comfortable knowing that safety and environmental responsibility have been priorities at every stage in the supply chain.

For more information and to join the program, visit


About Green Circle Salons: Green Circle Salons is a Zero Waste to Landfill certified movement
that supports beauty businesses to recover, recycle and repurpose up to 95% of their waste.
As a certified Bcorp, Green Circle Salons believes in using business as a force for good by
putting people and the planet above profit. Its members are the greenest beauty businesses
on the planet, and are recognized by their guests and the community-at-large for
environmental leadership.

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