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Paul Frasca and Ewelina Soroko, Sustainable Salons

Sustainable Salons on the cutting edge

In 2010, hairdresser Paul Frasca and sustainable fashion guru Ewelina Soroko embarked on a very long drive around Australia in the name of waste research.

Four months and 160 hairdressing salons later (and $7,000 in petrol!) they discovered that salon waste had nowhere to go.

“We estimated that Australian salons alone were sending one million kilograms of foil to landfill every year. Knowing that aluminium is recyclable, we were left speechless,” said Paul.

“And so, we set out to fix the salon waste problem and create the greatest resource recovery service the world has ever seen!”

Paul and Ewelina officially launched Sustainable Salons in 2015 and the program now has more than 900 salon members across Australia and New Zealand.

“For Sustainable Salons, sustainability is not just about environmental impact. Investing in the viability of the salon business, providing for the local people, inspiring the next generation, driving global awareness – all become factors that contribute to a sustainable and healthy people, planet and profit,” said Paul.

The program began in the hairdressing industry and now creates waste solutions for barber shops, beauty salons, dermal clinics and pet-grooming salons.

“Sustainable Salons provides each member with separation bins and outside collection bins to suit their needs, and offers a fortnightly collection service directly to their door,” said Paul.

“Plastic packaging is sent to specialist local plastics recyclers where it’s cleaned and made into outdoor furniture, landscape supplies and new product packaging.

“All aluminium, foil, colour tubes, cardboard, paper, magazines, razor blades, unwanted tools and some disposables are sold for recycling, and the proceeds help provide meals for hungry people.

“We collect hair clippings from our salon members and stuff them into sausage-like stockings to create ‘Hair Booms’ that can one day be used to help clean-up oil-spills along our coastlines.

“We’re also now the largest collector and donor of ponytails in Australia – we send them to various charitable organisations and wig-makers be made into wigs for those suffering from medically-induced hair-loss.”

Sustainable Salons is also the first company to recycle excess chemicals in the salon industry. Chemical waste is turned back into clean water used for manufacturing and building, rather than going down the drain and contaminating our oceans.

In recognition of their amazing work, Sustainable Salons was awarded the Hair Expo Business Performance of the Year in 2016, the Business Service of the Year at the 2016 Australian Hair Industry Awards, received the 2017 Australian Hair Industry Special Recognition Award and was named a finalist in the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Award in the category of Innovative Products and Services.

In line with industry-standard sustainability thinking, Paul and Ewelina believe we’re all responsible for the ethical disposal of any waste produced by a product or service we choose to consume.

Sustainable Salons has now made it possible for the consumer to eliminate 95% of the negative impact of their salon service for just $2 on their final service bill at all member salons!

“For us, it’s about creating real change. To date, we’ve saved more than 586,000 kilograms of materials from landfill, collected more than 90,000 ponytails and provided 118,000 meals to those doing it tough in our communities,” said Paul.

“In addition to this, 193,700 kilograms of paper has been recycled and 28,700 kilograms of hair collected from the salon floor that could soak up 95,800 litres of oil in a coastline spill.

“What we’ve put in place with Sustainable Salons is transparent, tangible and measurable – we’re not just about the message, we’re about real action. This has a positive impact on the environment, and it also translates into a significant business advantage for our clients.

“Salons are winning business awards, getting more clientele and better staff, and improving their local communities. We started on a journey to make salon waste history and it’s having a positive ripple effect!”