A SALON determined to shed the industry's reputation as wasteful has come up with a novel solution - recycling customers' hair.

Ben Ferguson is the salon manager of Mary Handy hairdressers in Wallingford and after seeing plastics and metals going to waste and chemicals washed away, he decided something needed to change.

He said: “We know as an industry it is notorious for not being very good eco-wise, as there is a lot of waste involved with hairdressing.”

To make a change, the salon collaborated with the Green Salon Collective, an initiative to make the hairdressing industry more sustainable.

Mr Ferguson said: “Only one per cent of salon waste is usually recycled or reused, which is criminal. As a business, you give your recycling over and think it will be dealt with accordingly, but a lot of it is deemed contaminated and does not get recycled.”

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Now the salon manager said that at least 95 per cent of waste in the salon is recycled. The key to the salon's new eco success in separating everything.

The Green Salon Collective helps the Wallingford salon to separate all its waste, which is then taken to be recycled without the plastics and metals getting contaminated by other products.

The salon has three different bins: a hair bin, a metal bin, a plastic bin, a PPE bin and a chemicals bin.

Mr Ferguson explained that usually there is nothing you can do with left over hair, unless it is long enough to donate.

However, the waste hair can now be utilised to absorb oil spills in the ocean.

The hair is made into ‘hair booms’ which Mr Ferguson describes as ‘long sausages’ made from cotton or nylon that are packed full of the hair.

Hair that does not get used for its absorbent qualities is used in agriculture. Hair is full of protein and nitrogen, making it good for crop growing.

Hair, PPE, plastics, and chemicals from products that cannot be recycled or reused get incinerated and the energy from burning them is then transformed into green energy for the national grid.

Throwing away PPE made the salon manager want to go eco and he encourages others to do the same. He said: “It was heartbreaking having to throw it out, surely there must be another way.”