Green Circle Salons Creates Community Of ‘Waste Warriors’ Recycling

For many people, a hairdresser’s chair is more than just a place to sit for a haircut. It also often serves as a source for social contact and discussion of the latest news, celebrity gossip or community events.

Green Circle Salons sees another role for this chair: a tool for social and environmental change. The Toronto-based company works with hair salons in Canada and the United States to recover and reuse cosmetic waste. It’s a huge and unique opportunity to make an impact: Daily salons in North America produce about 63,000 pounds of hair, 42,000 pounds of chemicals, and 235,000 pounds of paper and plastic.

I spoke with founder and CEO Shane Price as part of my research on the business. Price says the idea behind Green Circle Salons came to him while he was visiting a salon in Toronto and noticing how much waste was being produced.

“In Toronto, when that gets rolled onto the sidewalk, they pay $3.25 at the time per garbage bag,” he said.I thought there had to be a better way, chance. You are in the right place at the right time.”

To see if his idea was worth more than just a passing thought, he delved into the beauty industry as well as Toronto’s waste disposal system, and discovered that most of the waste ended up in landfill. After that, he spent several months consulting with a focus group of salons to present a case study of his business idea and bringing in his first colleague, Sakoto Nakajima, who is now President of Personnel and Planet.

“We didn’t have a lot of capital to invest in growing the opportunity, but what I had I threw into the business. And we realized there were a lot of salons looking for a solution, and that was only in Toronto,” Price said.

Green Circle Salons gained attention for its innovative services when hair clippings collected were used to help clean up after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and CBC News in Canada broadcast the story.

“Then we just He began to attract interest from all over Canada. In 2012 we launched in Vancouver, then in 2013 in Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal, and then in 2014 we had some interest from beauty salons in the US,” Price said. This led to Green Circle Salons starting their US service in Chicago, and since then Expanded to Seattle and other salons across the country.This expansion in the United States switched operations at Green Circle salons, which until then had collected and sorted all waste.

“We have started We think of ourselves as a recycling company for industry. Today we see ourselves as a community of trash warriors Transforming the industry into a kind of low-carbon, circular, renewable industry that is good for nature,” Price said. “This development is changing so many parts of the business and the way we think about how we Through this amazing community, we can have an amazing impact.”

By recognizing and building on the different focal points – the product manufacturer, the salon, their staff, and the guests – Green Circle Salons harnesses the collective power of healing the planet.

“Our mindset has always been how we can solve this problem one by one,” Nakajima said. “Growing up in Japan, I learned the mindset that companies should contribute to society.. Shin’s view focused on solving this problem around materials, waste, and recyclable. The next step, of course, was that we now have an audience, now we have employees, and now that you have all the resources, what else can we do to build a company for the greater good.”

Transforming industry for environmental good

This desire to create a greater good now includes a focus on changing the operating mindset of salons in order to achieve long-term environmental benefits, Price said.

“It’s about how they change the way they think about their business. It almost veered away from the phrase ‘I run a salon that makes people look beautiful and I have to take care of the planet’ to how to transform business to take care of the planet,” he said. “Then the output is you actually make people look beautiful. I think that’s the transformation we’re trying to do.”

To spread the word about its services, Green Circle Salons partners with beauty product brands such as B Corp Davines and sales representatives who have connections with salons.

“This is a relationship-driven industry, so relationships are driving outcomes,” Price said. “When a salon hears about Green Circle and they sign into our show, We are committed to four things with them: helping them be green, generating revenue, acquiring customers, and saving money.”

This financial, social and environmental benefit is consistent with the mindset of B Corp stakeholders as well as the growing consumer preference for doing business with companies looking to reduce their negative impact on the Earth. Salons have found that clients are willing to pay a little more to help cover the costs of Green Circle Salons services—and thus can be champions of the program and its environmental benefits.

“The most incredible marketing opportunity is when you have a salon guest sitting in a chair, you can talk about the program and the culture. “Salons are trained in how to do this,” Price said. If you cut your hair At Green Circle Salon, you’ll then know you can look great and feel good when you know you’re not contributing. Climate change in the process of obtaining beauty.”

Price said Green Circle Salons has data to show that the demand for sustainable operations in beauty salons is increasing. The company conducted a research study with Bobit Business Media that found that 72% of consumers said they care about what happens to waste, 60% said they would consider changing salons if they knew their waste footprint was managed responsibly, and 88% of salon professionals said it is important to work in a green and sustainable environment.

Nakajima said because salon workers are the primary stakeholders in these conversations, Green Circle Salons prioritizes employee education. “We enable them to understand why this is important. It will become easier for them to just jump on board and do the right thing,” she said. “This is a relationship industry. People want to participate, and the effect of salons on clients and the public is enormous. We’re trying to create a circle and community of climate warriors.”

In addition to its salons of over 3,000 members, Green Circle works with academies and schools to train future fashion designers. Price said her model is designed to empower all salon staff to be champions of a healthier planet.

“Our goal as a company is to make them the heroes of the people who matter most in their lives – their families and their salon guests,” he said. “Everyone wins in this form.”

Green Circle also partners with other companies in the B Corp community to amplify the impact of their work. This includes joining the recently formed Beauty B Corp alliance.

An elegant way to reduce, reuse and recycle

Salons separate waste on site and send items to the Green Circle. This creates a cleaner stream of waste, which in turn enhances its recyclability, Price said. Here’s a look at how some of the material may be reused or redirected for other purposes:

● Hair clippings. To develop the use of hair clippers in oil spill cleanup operations, Green Circle worked with Fleming College to evaluate and improve a product to absorb oil and other contaminants found in wastewater and storm water drains. Price said B Corp is also working with Virginia Tech researcher Justin Barron Using recycled plastic and hair fibers to make a new, stronger type of plastic that Green Circle now incorporates into its salon recycling bins. “The first point was the hair, but then our focus shifted more to how to contribute to closing the loop system as part of the larger supply chain,” Nakajima said. “After many years of investing in research and development, we are finally getting started The breakthrough point is where we can actually use hair as a commodity. That’s the kind of evolution we’re going through as a player in the supply chain.”

● Hair coloring. Green Circle Salons transports hundreds of jars of chemical payloads from salons to a facility where they can be separated into hydroponic water. And the oil layers, Price said. About 4% of the total mixture is an oily film that can be removed and used as an alternative energy source by the plant that produces this Processing. The aqueous water solution can be neutralized and returned to the sewage system.

● Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This is a new service added at the time of COVID-19. The use of waste for energy In practice, this system separates the materials that make up PPE into streams of polypropylene or polyethylene that can be shredded, pelletized, and reused to make more PPE. Green Circle collects used PPE from salons, health care facilities, and food service companies.

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