How One Company Keeps Used Razors Out Of Oceans

Disposable plastic razors create a huge amount of waste every year, and a shocking amount of it ends up in the ocean. One company encourages customers to send back their used razors to cut down on waste.


May 24 2019, Updated 9:40 a.m. ET

Razors might seem like small pieces of plastic, but they can quickly add up in landfills. In the United States, over two billion plastic razors are thrown away each year, but a significant amount doesn't end up in landfills. In fact, 32 percent of plastic products end up in the ocean. To put this into perspective, that amounts to a fully loaded dump trunk pouring plastic into the ocean every minute. 

Albatross Designs is a small company trying to help reduce the use of disposable razors in order to minimize plastic waste. Embracing a one hundred year old design, the company offers stainless steel safety razors as an alternative to plastic ones. These classic razors come in two styles: butterfly or 3-piece. By metal razors stylish again, Albatross is encouraging others to leave behind plastic and pick up the last razor they’ll ever need to buy. 

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The company's founder Andrew LaCenere discussed Albatross' goal with Inhabitat, explaining, “We need to stop the stream of plastic, but it would also be really great to remove some from the environment. We want to attack the problem from both ends.” By helping people tweak their daily habit of shaving and swapping plastic for high quality all metal safety razors, the company hopes to significantly reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean’s eco-system. 

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Dedicated to their environmental mission, the company's Take Back Program helps customers keep their shaving materials out of landfills altogether by allowing them to "give back" razors once they've been used. When a customer purchases a razor, it comes with 10 double edged safety razor blade refills. Once used, the blades can be sent back to the company in San Francisco to close the loop of the product’s life cycle.   

Albatross offers this program to encourage people to be more mindful of how they dispose of their possessions. Another reason the program is in place is because not all recycling centers are equipped to accept razor blades yet. The company recycles the steel into a higher value product and even accepts non-Albatross blades in an effort to make things easier for customers. 

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The program also aims to create price equity for women. Women tend to pay a higher price or “pink tax” on gender specific products. Razors are the second most marked up item when considering price disparity and women pay about 11 percent more than men for roughly the same product. Albatross tries to level the playing field by encouraging both women and men to use their gender neutral razor. 

Taking it one step further, the company aims to make the overall price for these durable razors affordable for everyone. The razor is currently $19.99 and the blade replacements are 15 cents. Both products are relatively more economic and durable than most plastic razors and refills which can cost upwards of $4 per cartridge. 

The company’s website explains their unusually low pricing model by stating, “For green products to add value to society they must be affordable…Our goal is to make double edged safety razors mainstream in order to see our goal of plastic free shaving come to fruition. We see that the path to achieve this begins with a low price.” 

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