Can Perfume Bottles be Recycled? [Do THIS Instead!]

If you are an avid fan of fragrances, you surely will be left with one lingering question after buying quite a few perfumes: “What should I do with the empty perfume bottles?” Well, one solution could be to recycle the empty perfume bottles. But, can perfume bottles really be recycled?

Most perfume bottles can be recycled except those made of crystal glass. Some recycling plants do not take decorative perfume glass bottles so check with your local plant first. When giving the bottles for recycling, remove the metal or neck rings as these can not be recycled with the bottles.

If you do plan to give your empty perfume bottles for recycling, there are quite a few things that you will need to keep in mind. So, in this article, I’ll share with you a step-by-step guide to recycle perfume glass bottles responsibly. Plus, I’ll also share with you a few tips on how you could use the bottles if you want to retain them at home!

So, let’s get started!

How to Dispose off Perfume Bottles?

Recycling is a very responsible choice. In fact, as per Glass Packaging Instituteover a ton of natural resources are saved for every ton of glass recycled. For every six tons of recycled container glass used in the manufacturing process, one ton of CO2 (carbon dioxide) is saved! 

So thank you for choosing to recycle your perfume bottles! 

Let me take you through the steps on how to dispose off a perfume bottle:

1. Empty the Perfume Bottles

The first thing that we need to do is empty the perfume bottles if they aren’t already. Even if you have used the bottle to the fullest, you will need to get rid of the remaining perfume which couldn’t be used with a spray.

Remember – perfume is flammable! So, it is important that you drain out any liquid in the perfume bottle. Ensure that the perfume bottles are indeed completely empty. 

2. Clean the Bottles for Any Perfume Traces

To be doubly sure that no remnants of the perfume remain – and we do not mistakenly create a fire hazard for recyclers – please rise the bottles clean with water.

When cleaning with water, make sure that you use warm water as this will clean the bottles thoroughly.

3. Remove Plastic or Metal Caps or Rings

Ideally try to remove the plastics or metal caps, nozzles, and spray mechanism before you hand them over to the recycling plant. These items cannot be recycled with glass. 

If you are not sure how to do this, there are several videos on YouTube that will be able to guide you through this process.

4. Sort the Perfume Bottles by Color

Certain recycling units require you to sort the perfume bottles by color. Plain, clear bottles in one bag and the remaining bagged as per the various colors of the perfume bottle. Each color might need its own recycle bag even. Check with the recycling unit to be sure about their policies. 

If you are wondering why perfume bottles need to be sorted by color? Well, this is a big deal. When you introduce a mixed color glass in a clear glass recycling stream, you possibly create a glass that does not match with color standards set by recycled glass customers.

In fact, you might see some unwanted colors showing up when recycling if these color bottles are not separated! 

5. Separate Glass Bottles from Other Items

Glass does not recycle the same way as paper or plastic. It has its own unique properties.

In fact, food and beverage glass bottles are recycled separately from other glass as they have a different melting point. Thus, it is strongly recommended to not mix your perfume bottles with any household items or glass cookware, jam jars, and liquor bottles, etc when sorting for recycling.

Remember to set apart the perfume bottles in a separate bag from the other items meant for recycling.

6. Do Not Let the Glass Bottles Fall and Break

Glass bottles by nature are fragile. So, please do not let your perfume bottles fall and shatter.

Firstly, the person handling the broken glass can get injured. Secondly, though the broken glass pieces can be recycled, it can not be used to make fresh glass containers. It will most likely be used as a cullet or as part of fiberglass or ceramic tile etc. 

7. Avoid Giving Crystal Perfume Bottles

Perfume bottles that are made of crystal glass need to be excluded from the recycling bag as they unfortunately do not recycle. Yes, you read that right – crystal is a type of glass that does not recycle! Any crystal glass perfume bottles or crystal glass stopper caps need to be removed and kept out of the set kept for recycling.

The good news however is that certain crystal perfume bottles can still be valuable even empty; check out the next section for tips!

If you are unsure of what crystal glass looks like, check out this article that helps you understand it.

8. See if Decorative Perfume Bottles are Accepted

So some recycling plants may not accept decorative perfume bottles. Decorative perfume bottles are usually the ones that are painted, colored, or have a metal foiling. So best try to reuse them instead.

It is understood that the decorative features do not recycle well with glass. Though, worry not, I have some great reuse ideas for decorative bottles in the article, so keep reading!.

9. Do Not Toss Perfume Bottles in the Curbside Bin 

Do not toss any glass, including glass perfume bottles in the trash can at home or on the streets.

In fact, some local recycling plants will not pick up the perfume glass bottles from the recycle bins placed on the streets also unless they are running a glass collection drive during that time. So, it might be good to inquire if they would like to come to pick the glass bottles up separately or if you can hand them over at a recycle desk.

Recycling glass can be more expensive – storage and recycling method wise – than running a regular waste recycling plant hence the hesitation, at times. 

10. Some Brands Can Also Recycle Perfume Bottles

If you do not want to take any of the above steps, then check in with your local beauty brand shop.

Brands including Lush, MAC, The Perfume Shop, The Body Shop, etc run incentive plans to recycle old perfume bottles for you instead. It keeps the brand and customer eco-friendly. How simple right?! Maybe this could be your first choice!

What Can You Do with Empty Perfume Bottles?

So you can certainly recycle almost all perfume bottles, but what if you do not want to or cannot recycle them for some reason? I have several empty bottles of perfume, some of them are absolutely gorgeous! So, I really cannot judge you for wanting to hang on to those pretty and decorative perfume bottles!

So my recommendation is that if you do not like clutter, but yet are asking yourself: What can I do with empty perfume bottles? I have some ideas for you!

Here’s what you could do with your empty perfume bottles –

  1. Get a perfume refill: Certain beauty brands can refill your empty perfume bottles so that you can reuse them (Best tip ever: as you can qualify for discounts for being eco-friendly. So check it out!)
  2. Store homemade perfume: If you are experimenting with making fragrances at home, then how about using an old empty perfume bottle to store it! Make it look a bit more genuine!
  3. Make reed diffusers: Just pour some old perfume or some essential oils into an empty perfume bottle, place in the reed sticks, and voila, you have an ornamental reed diffuser
  4. Make a lamp or chandelier: You can use old perfume bottles to make like an oil lamp, or if you have many then glue them together to create a chandelier effect!
  5. Employ as a decorative tabletop: If you have a particularly gorgeous perfume bottle then how about using it as a decorative item adorning your dinner table or study table? It becomes quite a home decor trend these days.
  6. Paint and use as a paperweight: How about painting your empty perfume bottles, perhaps adding some pop of glitter and you have a unique paperweight. 
  7. Make a candle stand: If your now empty perfume bottle has a wide base and is quite stable, then how about considering making it into a candle stand? It would look so beautiful even on a nightstand or a mantlepiece, even! Do not forget to rinse out any flammable liquid though.
  8. Use it as a vase: Empty perfume bottles look beautiful as it is. Now if you add a few flower buds or some green shoots in these gorgeous bottles and use it as a vase, even better. 
  9. Create bathroom decoration items: Empty perfume bottles make pretty sights especially on the bathroom shelf. You can fill colored water or perhaps some glitter to plain water and watch them adorn your bathroom.
  10. Use them as suncatchers: So crystal perfume bottles reflect light the best. As a sunray passes through the crystal a beautiful rainbow of colors will emerge. It might be a fun object to keep at your window sill. 
  11. Make a tiny perfume pendant: Tiny vials of empty perfume or small perfume bottles are perfect to make perfume pendants. They have been on quite a trend since the Victorian ages! Yes, really! Perfume pendants have been used as necklaces, as decorative belt hooks, and even pinned on your clothes as a brooch. Come on, let us add a bit of glamor! 
  12. Use near perfume bottles to refresh cupboards: If you have an empty perfume bottle you can add a bit of camphor or some perfume oil, even if they have traces it will do, and place them in your wardrobe or lingerie drawer. Here remember to remove the cap but keep the nozzle spray on.
  13. You can donate old perfume bottles: If your perfume bottle is even half-filled at times your local charity might accept it! Else you can donate these bottles to a DIY store or student who would like to repurpose them. Just ask around the neighborhood. You also check on freecycle.org which is an online nonprofit dedicated to reusing old stuff.
  14. Use them for Instagram and Youtube backgrounds!: If you live in the social media world then you would see your favorite influencers posing in front of colorful backgrounds.

    How about you use these bottles to add a bit of color to your shelfie as well? Yes, many people like to use premium brands including perfume bottles – even when empty – to give a sneak peek into their world
  15. Sell old perfume bottles for money!: If nothing, then try selling the empty bottles for money. Some pocket money on the side won’t hurt! Details below.

Are Old Perfume Bottles Valuable?

Some old, vintage perfume bottles can be very valuable. If it is a limited edition perfume bottle, hand-painted, or gone out of production then you might be able to get some good money for them! It works if these bottles belong to a premium perfume brand and not just an in store brand.  

If you are looking for an example, the old Czech perfume bottles are supposed to be extremely well-loved by perfume bottle collectors. One brand known to auction houses has been the Lalique Perfume bottles of France. These are richly designed and exquisite.

Empty perfume bottles that make it to the collector’s list are certainly valuable. These perfume bottle design styles include: Cameo Perfume Bottles. Art Nouveau Perfume Bottles and Art Deco Perfume Bottles. 

Cameo Perfume Bottles: You would recall the perfume bottles shaped in a human form, usually a woman or an angelic baby, with some relief work on it. These are cameo styles, and very popular with collectors

Art Nouveau Perfume Bottles: These at times are made of baccarat glass and are shaped into flowers and feature a lot of soft waves or curves. Made popular during the 19th century and well into the 20th century too, these bottles usually would have shown up on most of our grandmother’s dressing table.

Art Deco Perfume Bottles: These are the bottle styles more common now. Clean cut and geometrical designs. You will notice that here metal was used to decorate or style the bottle rather than the glass itself.

So if you have empty perfume bottles try to assess it for rich colors, etched designs, hand etching, hand-painted, hand-blown glass such as Murano glass, any extraordinary finishes, silver or gold stoppers, or any other ornate design feature you can see that makes the bottle distinguishable.

If you are still struggling to decide, then reach out to the International Perfume Bottle Association. Just viewing some of the amazing perfume bottle photographs on their website gave me goosebumps. It should give you a fair idea if your perfume bottle is maybe valuable and has a shot at a collection!

Can You Refill Perfume Bottles?

Luckily, we have seen the beauty and cosmetics industry really gearing up to become more environmentally responsible. In fact, some brands are now running programs to incentivize the whole 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) journey of beauty products. In fact, when it comes to perfume bottles there has been some innovative thinking as well in this regard. 

So to answer: Can you refill perfume bottles?

Most perfume bottles can easily be refilled. You can remove the cap and the spray mechanism from a bottle, and refill the bottle with a new scent. Certain perfume brands also offer to refill the empty bottles with the original fragrance.

Perfume bottles can be refilled at home and also by certain beauty brands. Perfume brands these days offer to refill the empty bottle with the original scent, and even give a discount for being environmentally conscious. This is also why these days nozzle spray mechanisms are being built to be screwed on and off so that people can repurpose bottles for other uses as well easily.

Several perfume brands are now offering to reuse old containers and glass perfume bottles for refills. Here are 11 beauty brands that can refill your empty perfume bottle:

  1. Lush
  2. MAC Cosmetics
  3. The Body Shop
  4. The Perfume Shop
  5. Hermes
  6. Kiehl’s
  7. & Other Stories
  8. LeLabo
  9. Lancome
  10. Thierry Mugler
  11. John Lewis

Where Can You Sell Empty Perfume Bottles? 

You can sell or trade empty perfume bottles in pawn shops and on multiple online e-commerce stores. These include eBay, Facebook Groups, BUNZ, Craigslist, Instagram, Preloved, Etsy, GumTree).

If valuable, then I  recommend appraised formally for listing at an auction house or sold to a private collector directly.

  1. eBay – List empty perfume bottles for sale on eBay: There are a ton of people selling empty perfume bottles on eBay.

    These are listed from 4 USD to 20 USD normally depending on how decorative it is or how many of such bottles are made available to the market. In fact, some people are selling old perfume spray atomizers separately. You can sell the bottles individually or as one full set.
  1. Facebook Groups – You can also sell it via Facebook Groups. There are lots of Facebook groups and communities where people are looking to buy old perfume bottles to store their own homemade fragrance. Some are just looking to use it for home DIY projects.
  1. Instagram – You can also choose to showcase the bottles on the Instagram feed. Instagram has lots of people browsing for pretty objects including perfume bottles.

    Use the hashtag #perfumebottlesforsale. There are over 13.1K people following the #antiqueperfumebottle hashtag so you can put that in for better views when showcasing the perfume bottles
  1. Pinterest – Another way is to build a for-sale catalog on Pinterest: The Pinterest platform is used for both design ideas and to create a catalog.

    If you have several empty perfume bottles to sell on a regular basis then you can begin with a page here and see how this side hustle works out for you. This can even be your first step before jumping on to a formal website or e-commerce platform.
  1. Auction houses – If your empty perfume bottle is particularly valuable then you can check out auction houses such as Perfume Bottes Auction: It is the official auction partner of the International Perfume Bottle Association’s annual convention.
  1. Contact a private collector of perfumes: Yes, some people collect amazing vintage perfume bottles. For example, look at Perfumeria de Epoca private collection and you can get a rough idea what collectors of vanity perfume bottles are looking for.
  1. Post a classifieds on Craigslist: This is an online classifieds website that has endured the Internet good and bad days. You can list your empty perfume bottle here for sale as well. It has a page for every city, in every part of the world. Pretty amazing. 
  1. Trade or swap it on Bunz: So, you can trade your perfume bottles in exchange for things you need or want. Bunz calls itself a trusted bartering community.

    You can list your items alongside an ‘ISO or instead of the list’ and get maybe sterling earrings set? Go figure! They allow members to expand the community by selling/listing and inviting people to the app. So you can check if they cater to your location now, else start a community to popularize the option.
  1. Set up an online storefront at Etsy: If you have a lot of empty perfume bottles and can do this regularly then perhaps start an Etsy store. You can browse and see if this an option you like.
  1. Give your empty perfume bottle a chance at Preloved: This is another lovely option – though the UK only – where your old products can be listed. You can safely trade second-hand goods including empty perfume bottles here.  It has a free and paid membership model. The good part is you can list an unlimited number of advertisements to promote the sale of your empty perfume bottle for free.
  1. See GumTree?: This is a UK only online classifieds website where you can resale your perfume bottles as well.  

Is Perfume Hazardous Waste?

Perfume is a flammable liquid. However we apply it to our skin so it clearly does not qualify as ‘hazardous waste’. If you toss the perfume liquid into a flame or a trash can with even traces of perfume, you have created a fire hazard. So be careful to dispose of perfume in a drain.

Can You Pour Perfume Down the Drain?

Perfume can be safely poured down the drain or flushed down a toilet. It will not cause any harm to the plumbing or drain pipes. In fact, this is the safest step to take when emptying out perfume bottles for reuse or recycle.

Final Thoughts

Recycling or repurposing empty glass perfume bottles is a responsible choice. The planet will thank you!

If you liked what you read and are still interested in knowing more about perfumes, check out some of the other articles on this website!

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