Tayside salon owner Charlie Taylor has been a hairdresser for 45 years but has never known what to do with the mountains of cut hair.
Every year hundreds of black bags are filled to the brim from her salons in Perth and Dundee.
With some regret, the hair, tint tubes and other waste have been sent to landfill.
But now the businesswoman has discovered a way for her salons to be completely waste free and is asking customers to pay an extra £1 green fee.
Plan to help the environment
“Until now we’ve done the standard recycling – plastics and cardboard and that’s all we’ve been able to do,” Charlie said.
“I’ve had the occasional client asking for their hair to put around their fields and garden. Apparently it helps keeps deer away.
“I cannot even begin to estimate how much hair we throw away – a crazy amount.
“But now we’ve joined the Green Salon Collective, which means everything can be recycled.”
The initiative was founded by environmental experts, hairdressers and eco campaigners with the aim of recycling or repurposing all waste.
It charges salons to collect separated waste in electric or carbon-neutral vehicles.
Oil cleaning operations
The hair can be used for gardening or composting purposes or for oil or waterway cleaning operations.
Company director Alastair Taylor added: “The hair goes into cotton sausages that can be used in rivers or for soaking up oil.
“At the moment our tint tubes are sent to landfill and take 400 years to break down.
“We want to move the business from a linear model of everything getting binned or put down the sink, to a circular model where it is recycled or repurposed for something else.”
Salons filled with happy customers
With clients returning with much more hair than normal after lockdown, it’s a good time to launch the new initiative.
Ms Taylor’s salons are almost completely booked until the middle of May.
“We are back in the flow and feel like I’ve never been away,” she said.
“We’ve got a busy few weeks ahead of us and the customers have been so pleased.
“Clients come in looking a bit sad and go out with massive smiles on their faces – it’s a joy.
“The staff have been fantastic at trying to fit everybody in. We’re working longer hours at the moment.
“We want to be a forward-thinking business. I think ultimately all salons will have to move to zero waste.
“There will be a time when putting chemicals down the sink won’t be permitted.
“I’d rather be first and take the commitment and costs than follow on because we have to.”