Having spent much of my hairdressing apprenticeship removing foils at the basin, I have come full circle and am now one of those clients who spend hours in the salon chair having my foils done. But I have never actually thought about how many foils per year, per salon are used and what impact that has on our environment.
An Australian company led by Paul Frasca and Ewelina Soroko has launched an hairdressing industry aluminium recycling initiative and a new brand of foil based on environmentally friendly marketing – Refoil.
Paul Frasca describes his journey with the sustainability issue of aluminium foil in the hairdressing industry began in an exclusive hair salon where he foiled at least eight clients a day. Every week the bags of foil would be dumped in the garbage and he wondered how much of this foil waste ended in landfill.
In 2010, together with passionate environmentalist Ewelina, they conducted a research study on foil waste in Australian hair salons, which showed that only 1% of hair salons recycle their foil waste and that over one million kilos of the stuff ends up in Australian landfill sites every year. ‘That’s around 715 Toyota Prius cars, or four Airbus jumbo jets,’ says Paul. ‘Stacked high, it’s a pile of foil taller than Sydney’s Centrepoint Tower.’ Which, they claim, will take 500 years to break down.
Paul and Ewelina say that they also found that recycling centres could not process hairdressing foil waste as the pieces were too small for the recycling processing machines – however when the foils are crushed together into large balls, the processing machines can identify and process the aluminium balls allowing hairdressing foil waste to be recycled.
As part of the initiative, Refoil launched the ‘Crush’ recycling initiative, and now Australian salons and academies are starting to crush their foil waste into large balls to enable the recycling of their waste to occur as part of the standard kerbside recycling process.
Paul and Ewelina also say they’ve found a manufacturer who can make foil from a high percentage of recycled aluminium. ‘Refoil’s mission is to make aluminum waste history by building awareness for a sustainable aluminum future and offering products that encourage sustainable development,’ explains Paul. As a brand, Refoil are keen to work closely with Australia’s hairdressing colleges to provide education in sustainable salon practices. They are also committed to working with manufacturers, recyclers and other stakeholders in the hairdressing industry on building a sustainable foiling future for the next generations of hair professionals.
HOWEVER, PROCARE SAYS’
Nick Scoon is Managing Director of the UK’s leading hair foil manufacturing company, Procare. ‘At Procare, we are looking to improve our environmental impact all the time,’ he says. ‘Aluminium is in many ways the ultimate recycling success story – it can be recycled over and over again while retaining 100 per cent purity. In fact, around 75 per cent of all the aluminium that has ever been produced is still in the loop being used, recycled and used again.’
‘However,’ he adds. ‘It is simply not true that hair foils are 100 per cent recycled – for important quality and safety reasons, hair foils must include primary aluminium as well.’
‘We want to make sure that environmentally-friendly products do what they say.’ To help salons become more eco-friendly, Procare has developed a number of dispensing systems including the 24*7 fully automatic hair foil dispenser. ‘This will not only save salons time but also help reduce waste.’ Additionally, he says that Procare has introduced intelligent energy saving measures, recycles all aluminium waste from its factory and always uses recycled content in packaging.
‘We want salons to be given truthful and accurate information. That is why we’re concerned about campaigns from some parts of the Australian hair foil market promoting products as being ‘greener’ than they are. We also feel that these exaggerated comments are detrimental to the recycling of aluminium. Encouraging people to recycle is obviously good environmental practice. However it’s important that companies don’t use ‘greenwash’ in an attempt to improve their market share,’ Nick says.
Procare is a member of the European Aluminium Foil Association and the UK Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation, they have a lot of facts in relation to aluminium recycling which they say can be verified by the organisations listed at the end of this article.
We checked further with Paul and Ewelina about the make-up of Refoil: ‘Refoil is made from recycled aluminium which is a mix of pre- and post-consumer scrap aluminium,’ Ewelina clarifies. ‘Further content of metals and minerals needs to be added for quality reasons. We are in the process of getting our products certified for the recycled content.’
BEAUTY SALONS ARE IN THIS TOO
Many spas and beauty salons use aluminium foil for body wraps, so owners and operators also need to research their foil supply story and make sure their wrap foil is bundled into balls to enable recycling at the processing plant.
GET THE FACTS
Both Refoil and Australia’s Procare distributor, Comfortel, will have stands at Hair Expo. We encourage you to talk to them both about their foils and their different perspectives on the subject of recycled aluminium content in foils.
As we all learn more about this topic, we will undoubtedly end up with far more environmentally aware hair and beauty industry practices.
COMFORTEL HAIR EXPO
Stand # 2114 or Contact +61 3 8581 8111
REFOIL HAIR EXPO
Stand #1114 or Contact +61 2 9680 9222
”” EAFA, the European Aluminium Foil Association www.alufoil.org
”” Alupro, the UK Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation www.alupro.org.uk
”” EAA, the European Aluminium Association www.alueurope.eu
”” OEA, the Organisation of European Aluminium Refiners and Remelters www.oea-alurecycling.org
”” World Aluminium, the International Aluminium Institute www.world-aluminium.org