Eco efficiency in Hair and Beauty Salons

Today’s beauty salons can offer a range of services – from hair styling to nail and skin treatments, such as tanning, facials, body wraps, manicures, and make-up applications, as well as retailing many products. In providing these services, however, many wastes can be generated. The most notable environmental issues for salons are:

  • The use of chemical products (dyes, bleaches, solvents)
  • Air pollution (odours)
  • Water use and wastewater disposal
  • Energy use
  • Solid Waste (Paper towels, product containers, other packaging)

Europe has thousends of small hair and beauty salons/shops, many located in private homes. And, while individual businesses may not discharge substantial amounts of wastes, the main problem is the combined impact of chemical and waste discharges from many small businesses.

Chemicals in Beauty Salons

There are a wide range of chemicals used in the hair and beauty industry. Many of these chemicals are hazardous to the environment, but are also of concern to human health:

hair dyes, straighteners, bleaches, shampoos, peroxides, brow and lash tints, chemical peels,wax solvents, hair styling agents, nail/skin care products, permanent wave solutions, disinfectants and cleaning products.

Cleaning Products

Cleaning products can be among the most hazardous chemicals in any business. These products create hazardous waste - threatening human health and the natural environment. There are many “green products” available that are just as effective as traditional ones. Look for Eco-Logo or Green Seal certified products. Borax, ammonia and baking soda are examples of safe alternatives that can clean and disinfect to meet hospital standards and are much cheaper than name brand cleaners.

Solid Waste

Reducing solid waste from a salon is one of the easiest ways to “green” your business.

Water/Energy Considerations

Water and energy is consumed in every hair and beauty salon. So it makes good business sense as well as good environmental sense, to reduce energy and water use wherever possible.

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

It is about control temperature settings, turn heat down or off during off hours. Conduct routine maintenance on heating and ventilation equipment to ensure it is operating efficiently. Improve the building to save energy (ceilings, floors, walls, weather-stripping, etc.


Doing laundry can use a surprising amount of energy and water resources. By using newer, high efficiency machines, water use can be reduced by up to 50% and electrical use by as much as 40%.

What is Eco efficiency?

Eco-efficiency is a practical and systematic approach that businesses can adopt in setting and achieving environmental and business performance objectives. It is very closely associated with and complementary to other concepts such as Health and Safety, Total Quality Management (TQM), and Pollution Prevention (also known as source reduction).

It involves changing processes, finding alternatives, and reducing or eliminating the generation of toxic wastes instead of dealing with problems of cleanup or disposal after the fact. It also includes extending product liability, enhancing material recyclability and maximizing the use of renewable resources.

Eco-efficiency means doing more with less, creating and providing quality products and services while reducing resource use, waste and pollution along the entire value chain. It is not only about managing waste after it is created, but strives towards preventing and minimizing waste in the first place. The ultimate goal of eco-efficiency is to establish sustainable businesses while keeping environmental solutions in mind. Simultaneously, businesses increase efficiency while maintaining an environmental integrity.

Source: Dalhousie University, Eco-Efficiency Centre