Zug, 26.11.2021

Collecting a valuable raw material

From June this year, the Vaudois company Récup'Hair has been collecting aluminium tubes, shampoo bottles and cut hair from Zug every month for recycling. The hair, for example, is used to create carpets that can suck up leaking oil from bodies of water.

In a European comparison, Switzerland is a role model for waste separation: over 50% of waste is recycled or recovered. For hairdressing salons, however, there are still no clear regulations for sorting recyclable waste such as cut hair, empty hair dyeing tubes or shampoo bottles. In order to support hairdressers and hairdressers in Switzerland in sustainable sorting, L'Oréal Professional Products Switzerland and Groupe BAREC have joined forces and launched the Récup'Hair collection programme.

"Once a month, a Récup'Hair employee picks up the recyclable waste products that we have collected in the waste bags that they provide, which are also recycled," says Susi Wolf, Manager of Coiffeur Metalli. The salon has been involved in the recycling program since this summer. "Our team is enthusiastic about it and is committed to separating, even if the space in the back rooms is a bit tight. The project can only work if we all participate consistently," explains Susi Wolf.

One kilo of hair absorbs eight litres of oil
The "valuable raw material hair" is not a waste product, but can serve, for example, as a compost, a filter or as a pest and protective barrier. At its Moudon site in canton Vaud, the Récup'Hair company processes the hair from the salons into filter mats and 60 x 20 centimetre oil-binder carpets. "One kilo of hair can absorb up to eight litres of leaking oil. Such hair carpets are used, for example, by the fire brigade, garages or disposal centres," she explains. Oil in bodies of water can also be absorbed in this way.

The aluminium tubes, in turn, are sent to smelters, and are used to manufacture other aluminium products. "The shampoo bottles are granulated and reused," says Susy Wolf. Further possible uses are still being investigated. The partner supporting the French-speaking Swiss company in the development of its production technology in Switzerland is the Californian NGO Matter of Trust.

Photo 1: Stylist Rosa di Berardo (left) and intern Florena Jusufi from hairdresser Metalli collect cut hair, which is collected monthly for recycling by the company Récup'Hair from Vaud.
Photo 2: The company Récup'Hair has collected a total of 1.1 tons of hair in Swiss salons since June.
Photo 3: Intern Florena Jusufi from hairdresser Metalli collects the aluminium pieces from hair dyeing as well as the aluminium tubes in the container provided for this purpose, until they are picked up once a month.
Photo 4: Managing Director Susy Wolf is delighted that her team is so committed to Récup'Hair's recycling programme.

Photos: Stefan Kaiser, Zug

German-speaking Switzerland lags somewhat behind
"Unfortunately, the project is not yet widely known in German-speaking Switzerland. I myself only found out about it by chance through the media in French-speaking Switzerland and then through L'Oréal. I think it's important that this service should also establish itself in Zug and the surrounding area," she continues. Since June, Récup'Hair has been visiting 600 salons in Switzerland and has thereby been able to collect five tons of recyclable materials, including 1.1 tons of cut hair. "Hairdressing salons collect hair every day that they would otherwise throw away. Collecting it makes no difference to the work, and is no problem. This is worth a lot for the environment, however," continues Susy Wolf.

The service costs around CHF 45 a month. The main objective of Récup'Hair is to establish an attractive waste collection and recycling service for L'Oréal Professional Products partner salons in Switzerland, and to raise awareness about the disposal of recyclable materials inb the hairdressing industry. For their contribution to the circular economy, the participating salons will be awarded the Récup'Hair label. This active contribution is also made visible to customers by showing the partner salons on an interactive map in the respective regions.


Six other Zug hairdressing salons use the service
Récup'Hair is a product of Groupe BAREC, which is one of the largest recycling specialists in Switzerland. With nine locations throughout Switzerland, it offers an efficient and local collection service for recyclable materials. The idea of the service is to save time and reduce the waste fees, as well as improving the ecological footprint of hairdressing salons. The other Zug hairdressing salons that are participating in this project are Coiffure Black and White in Zug, Intercoiffure Wolf in Zug, rund ums haar – Susi Voser in Zug, Salzmann Hair Group Baar AG in Baar, Haarszene in Cham and Intercoiffure Iten in Oberägeri.