Hair Waste in Salons

a hairdresser cutting someones hair

For hairdressers, barbers and other beauty salons one often-overlooked aspect of running your business is waste management, specifically hair waste!

The generation and following disposal of hair waste pose unique challenges and responsibilities.

In this guide, we’ll go through everything your business needs to know about hair waste.

Table of Contents

bits of hair on the floor after a haircut

What is Hair Waste?

Hair waste is any discarded or wasted hair that accumulates during the operations of running a hairdressing business, including hair salons, barber shops, or even pet groomers!

Hair waste includes cut hair, clippings, discarded hair extensions, beard shavings or any other hair removed from the body that needs to be disposed of.

Most people might overlook hair waste, but lots of it can pose environmental and regulatory problems if not managed effectively by business owners.

Read on to find out more about how to manage your business’ hair waste!

leftover hair on the floor with a brush in the background

The Impact of Hair Waste

It’s really easy to overlook hair waste, it quite literally can be swept under the rug!

However, as a business owner in the hair industry you should be concious of its impact.

Fun fact: hair is not actually biodegradable!

Unlike food waste or paper which do tend to break down relatively quickly, hair decomposition is a slow process that usually takes several years to complete.

The inherent durability of discarded hair means that it can survive in the natural environment long after i’s been swept away from the salon chair.

When hair waste isn’t disposed of properly its consequences can continue to get worse and worse.

One of the most immediate concerns of hair waste is the risk of clogged drains, particularly in facilities where hair accumulates in large quantities – like your hair salon!

Hair clippings can intertwine and form dense masses that obstruct plumbing systems, leading to costly repairs and disruptions to business operations.

The journey of hair waste doesn’t end at your doorstep.

Inadequate disposal methods of hair can result in hair waste getting into waterways, where it poses a big threat to aquatic life.

As hair breaks down over time, it releases microplastics and other pollutants into the water, contributing to water pollution and endangering marine life.

By raising awareness and disposing of hair waste properly, you can have a more positive environmental impact.

hair trimmings on a hairdresser floor

Hair Waste Regulations in the UK

There are lots of regulation you should consult your waste broker with in regards to the way you dispose of your commercial waste.

Here are three of the most notable hair waste regulations in the UK:

1. Environmental Protection Act 1990

This act provides the legal framework for waste management and pollution control in the UK.

It sets out the responsibilities of businesses regarding the safe handling, storage, transport, and disposal of various types of waste, including hair waste.

Business owners must comply with the provisions of this act to ensure they manage their waste in an environmentally responsible manner.

2. Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011

These regulations implement EU directives on waste management and establish requirements for waste prevention, recycling, and disposal in England and Wales.

Businesses must adhere to these regulations, which may include obligations related to the segregation, treatment, and recycling of different types of waste, including hair waste.

3. Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

This act imposes general duties on employers to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of their employees and others affected by their activities.

Businesses handling hair waste must comply with health and safety regulations, which may involve providing suitable training, equipment, and control measures to protect workers from hazards associated with handling and processing hair waste.

These are just a few examples of the laws and regulations that may be relevant to businesses in the UK dealing with hair waste.

a hairdresser cutting hair in a salon

How to Manage Hair Waste

This section provides practical insights and strategies for salon owners to effectively manage hair waste, from segregation to sustainable disposal methods, ensuring a positive impact on both their businesses and the planet!

Segregation

Make sure you’ve got good systems in place to separate hair waste from the rest of your commercial waste, like general waste, dry mixed recycling, food waste or anything else.

We recommend having clearly colour coded bins around your salon, and printing out infographics for the front of the bin so your staff clearly know what can and can’t go in each container.

Have a separate box for your hair waste clippings so that it’s easy to donate to companies to recycle.

Reuse and Recycle

Explore opportunities for reusing or recycling hair waste.

Some of our clients have chosen to participate in programmes that collect and recycle hair waste to solve needs in other industries.

Did you know that hair waste can be used for oil spill cleanups?

Use search engines like Google or apps like TikTok to find out what other hairdressers and barbers are doing to use hair waste for good.

Professional Collection Services

Consider partnering with professional waste management companies that specialise in the collection and disposal of hair waste – just like us!

We ensure compliance with regulations and offer lots of sustainable disposal methods for all of the commercial waste your hair salon might produce.

hair and beard clippings scattered on the floor

How to Sustainably Dispose of Hair Waste

Normally, your hair salon will usually dispose of hair waste in your general waste bin.

But keep reading to see some more sustainable methods to dispose of hair!

Composting Hair Waste

Hair, being rich in nitrogen, can serve as an excellent component of compost.

When mixed with other organic materials, hair can contribute to nutrient-rich compost that benefits gardens and agriculture.

To compost hair effectively, business owners should ensure that the hair is clean and free from any contaminants before incorporating it into their compost piles or bins.

Additionally, mixing hair with other organic materials, such as food scraps, garden waste, and leaves, and regularly turning the compost pile to facilitate aeration and decomposition will help maximise the nutrient contribution of hair to the composting process.

Biodegradable Packaging and Products

Hair waste, particularly hair clippings, can be repurposed to manufacture biodegradable packaging materials and eco-friendly products.

By partnering with companies specialising in sustainable packaging solutions, hair salons can contribute to the circular economy by transforming their waste into valuable resources.

Biodegradable packaging made from hair fibres offers a renewable alternative to conventional plastics, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and minimising environmental pollution.

Biofuel Production from Hair Waste

Hair waste contains organic compounds that can be converted into biofuels through biochemical processes such as anaerobic digestion or pyrolysis.

Anaerobic digestion involves the decomposition of organic matter by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen, resulting in the production of biogas, a renewable energy source rich in methane.

Pyrolysis, on the other hand, subjects organic materials to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, producing bio-oil, biochar, and syngas.

By exploring biofuel production options, hair salons can contribute to the development of sustainable energy solutions while reducing their environmental footprint.

If you’re a bit confused about how your salon can get involved with sustainable disposal options, feel free to get in touch with us for more information!

Animal Bedding and Insulation

Hair waste can be use as a natural, biodegradable alternative to conventional animal bedding materials such as straw or wood shavings.

Cleaned and sanitised hair clippings can provide comfortable bedding for livestock and pets, offering insulation and moisture absorption properties.

Additionally, hair fibres can be incorporated into insulation materials for buildings, contributing to energy efficiency and reducing reliance on synthetic insulation products.

By repurposing hair waste for animal bedding and insulation, businesses can support sustainable agricultural practices and green building initiatives.

Textile Recycling

Hair fibres possess unique properties that make them suitable for textile applications, including thermal insulation, moisture absorption, and durability.

By collaborating with textile recycling companies like Human Material Loop, hair salons can divert their waste hair clippings from landfills and contribute to the production of eco-friendly textiles and non-woven materials.

These recycled textiles can be used in various applications, including apparel, upholstery, and automotive components, offering a sustainable alternative to conventional textile production methods.

Have we missed anything? Be sure to tag us in your thoughts @WasteManaged!

a barber shaving a mans beard with an electric razor

Conclusion

In conclusion, effective management of hair waste is not only a regulatory requirement but also a moral responsibility for businesses in the hair industry.

Salon owners can help the environment by separating waste correctly, using eco-friendly disposal methods, and keeping up with relevant regulations.

This way, they reduce their impact on the planet and make it healthier.

FAQ's

  • What is hair waste?
  • What can hair waste be used for?
  • How do hairdressers get rid of hair?
  • Does hair decompose after being cut?
  • How can I prevent hair going down the drain?

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