MAC Cosmetics Recycling

Makeup in store on display

MAC cosmetics has five social initiative programs currently in place. In addition to these, many years ago MAC cosmetics developed an exclusive recycling program, aptly called "Back to MAC." MAC's recycle initiative makes it possible for customers to be rewarded for sharing in MAC's commitment to the environment.

The Basics

Any MAC customer returning six empty full-size primary containers of MAC cosmetics to a MAC counter in a department store receives a free lipstick. If they are returned to a free-standing store, the customer will get their choice of lipstick, lip gloss, or a single eyeshadow. If there's no MAC counter or store nearby, you can still participate online. When you take advantage of "Back to MAC" it's almost like buy six and get one free.

The Specifics

"Back to Mac" is a plastic recycling initiative. They collect the plastics and pass it on to sub-contractors who take care of the recycling. You can toss away the outer packaging, it's the hard-plastic primary packaging, the containers and caps, that MAC has recycled. If you're wondering if an item is "Back to MAC" recyclable, it will say on the flaps of the box in which the cosmetic is packaged.

Examples of what you can recycle:

  • Eye shadow primary containers (trio compact, quad compact, or single, with or without the metal pans)
  • Cream color base, paint tube, or paint pot
  • Pro palette
  • Pigment jar (with cap)
  • Mascara tube
  • Liquid liner tube
  • Technakohl liner (mechanical pencil with plastic)
  • Powder, blush compact
  • Lipstick or lipglass tube
  • Foundation bottle, tube, or jar (with caps)
  • Wipes packaging with a plastic lid
  • Eyelash containers


What you bring back must be a complete, full-size MAC container. The cosmetic doesn't have to be all used up. Anything that's old or that you don't use anymore will be taken back, and you don't have to wash the containers.  It just has to be six full-size plastic containers.

Items "Back to MAC" won't take back:

  • Cosmetic containers you received from "Back to MAC"
  • Viva Glam Cosmetic (100 percent of the purchase price goes to the MAC Aids fund)
  • Limited edition containers
  • Glass containers without their plastic cap
  • Sample, promotional, travel, or trial containers
  • Pro palette refill pans
  • Wooden pencils
  • MAC accessories such as eyelashes, eyelash curlers, makeup brushes, tweezers, sharpeners, sponges, applicators, etc.
  • Holiday set containers (unless you have the complete set of containers)

Basically, "Back to MAC" takes back anything that's plastic and can be recycled, as long as MAC makes it.

"Back to Mac" Reviews

Reviewers say that some MAC counters and pro stores will take back eyeshadow containers that have the small metal pans removed and others won't. Some say it's unfair they can only exchange for lipstick at a MAC department store counters. Ohers say if MAC cares about the environment, they'd get rid of the plastic containers altogether. However, all in all, MakeupAlly's reviewers give Back to MAC's recycling program good ratings at 4.7 stars out of 5 with over 200 reviews.

Turning Trash Into a Reward

Everyone loves their MAC cosmetics and when you take advantage of "Back to MAC," it's almost like you buy six and get one free. However, if you're a new MAC user, you may not be aware of this program and have been tossing your MAC containers in the trash. Now that you know about MAC's recycling program, you can start saving your containers and when you have six, you can take them back to MAC and exchange them for a new MAC lipstick, lip gloss, or single eyeshadow. It's like turning trash into a reward!

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MAC Cosmetics Recycling