March 11, 2021

Recyclable Aluminum Packaging

At TropicSport, we aim to minimize our impact on the environment. While many sunscreens contain reef and skin degrading chemicals, our signature Mineral Sunscreen uses natural, organic ingredients to protect your skin and our environment. In order to address the environmental footprint of our packaging, we switched our sunscreen to fully recyclable aluminum tubes. 

The Problem with Plastic 

Plastic has been around for roughly a century. In that time, humans have scaled production up to 300 million metric tons per year, only 9% of which is recycled. Unfortunately, the environmental costs of plastic precede its disposal; most plastic requires both energy and raw materials from fossil fuels during production. Eight million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year and the World Economic Forum predicts that plastic will outweigh all fish in the ocean by 2050. Ocean plastics congregate in “garbage patches”, the largest of which occupies twice the area of Texas. Still, roughly 70% of plastic sinks to the seabed

The presence of plastic wreaks havoc on ecosystems because marine species mistake it for food and natural structure, consuming it and entangling themselves within it. In addition, plastic never goes away; rather than decomposing, sun and wave action break plastic down into Microparticles. These microplastics can enter the food chain when ingested by microscopic filter feeding organisms, replacing a portion of their diet with nutrition-less plastic and putting the base layer of marine ecosystems at risk. In a process called biomagnification, the concentration of plastic within organisms increases moving up the food chain. While we do not know the full extent of this issue, we do know that most plastics are toxic and the accumulation of man made chemicals within and around organisms will certainly disrupt, if not decimate ecosystems. 

Why is aluminum any better?

While there is an environmental cost to the production of aluminum, its life cycle differs from plastic in two main ways. First, aluminum is infinitely (and more efficiently) recyclable than plastic. In an ideal world, once produced, aluminum can stay in circulation, reducing the need for further production. On the other hand, plastic has a finite recyclable lifespan, degrading in quality over time; plastic loses 95% of material value in its first use cycle. The second way in which aluminum differs from plastic is its behavior after disposal. While aluminum still requires a long time to decompose, it does decompose rather than break down into toxic microparticles.

 

What can we do? 

Regardless of our sunscreen choices, there are three key lifestyle changes that can reduce our ecological footprint. We have all heard “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, but we challenge you to think of it as a hierarchy. 

  1. Reduce the amount you consume. Stay mindful of your consumption and whenever possible, choose the most sustainable option. 
  2. Reuse things instead of throwing them away, or even recycling them. Any industrial process incurs environmental costs, recycling included. 
  3. Recycle. When reducing and reusing are not an option, be sure to recycle what you can. 

 

Learn more about our commitment to sustainability

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If we can do this, why can’t the big guys? We are allowing others to use our discovery for free. Feel free to push other companies to follow our lead! Go to www.surfrider.org to join the war on plastics.

Willy Bemiss
Willy Bemiss


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