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When Life Gives You Zinc Waste, Make Compost!

From our earliest days as a company, our commitment to respecting the environment has been a guiding light. Almost every Badger product is designed to be recycled or reused in some way. To be truly sustainable, however, we work hard every day to ensure our HQ recycling practices match our mission by reducing waste as much as possible.

By now, many of us know that reducing, reusing, and recycling helps Mother Earth, and composting is one of the beneficial ways to do so. But did you know cosmetic waste can also be composted, and it's one of Badger's core recycling practices?

zinc oxide composting

From sunscreen waste to planet-friendly compost

Behind the production of every tube of sunscreen is machinery that needs to be cleaned. Yet, most sunscreen waste gets incinerated—or worse yet, gets trucked across the country and incinerated out of state. A carbon double whammy! But here at Badger, we use ingredients of such high quality that we get a little attached to the resulting waste. After all, why throw away reef-friendly minerals or organic, food-grade waxes and oils when they could help the planet?

zinc oxide sunscreen composting

An ingenious solution to a unique problem

Hundreds of thousands of sunscreens are produced yearly in our 100% solar-powered, FDA-registered facility, and when that equipment is cleaned between product runs, what's left behind is mineral and oil waste that cannot be reused. That waste (or "gleanings") is then stored in empty olive oil totes, the same ones used to transport our sustainably harvested, farm-produced extra virgin olive oil from Soler Romero in Spain.

While it is common practice to incinerate this type of waste, we've chosen to put our waste to work for the planet instead. So at the end of every sunscreen production season, we get a visit from the "Suck it Up" truck, which takes our waste and delivers it to the nearby Windham Solid Waste Management District (WSWMD) to turn it into beautiful compost.

Closing the loop

Our sunscreen gleanings are combined with other compostable waste like leaves, woodchips, food waste, and eggshells collected from area organizations. Then the magic begins. Over six months and reaching temperatures of at least 160 degrees, the microorganisms convert this material into marketable compost that helps fund costly recycling programs!

We love that our sunscreen goes beyond being great for your skin and safe for marine life. On this journey to create a healthier world, we're proud to make products that are good for you and Mother Earth!

zinc oxide composting

Badger's other recycling practices

Earlier this year, we moved away from zero-sort recycling due to difficulty tracking what exactly was being recycled and partnered with a local transfer station in Walpole, New Hampshire. Their exemplary system means we can recycle our #1, #2, and #5 plastics, metals, glass, and aluminum. Unfortunately, a market has yet to exist for recycling #3, #4, #6, and #7 plastics—however, these make up less than 1% of our total plastic usage.

Our recycling is brought to the transfer station about once a month. We also have a 40-yard cardboard/mixed paper dumpster picked up every six weeks, which amounts to about 3 tons of cardboard.

zinc oxide composting badger garden

What else are we doing?

We measure and track water usage and the quantity of liquid/solid waste produced, and we use organic oils to clean machinery rather than the typical water-based cleaning. Our wastewater production went down by as much as 84% in 2020 – which is a pretty big deal! And the organic sunflower oil we use to clean equipment becomes biofuel.

The road to zero waste can be slow at times, but we firmly believe that we each have the power to make a difference. Ultimately, our journey of sustainability is one of honoring this planet with the products we make through how we source and create them, as well as how we dispose of the leftover waste. With sustainability and kindness as our guiding light, we will continue to do our part in reducing, reusing, and recycling as much as possible.

What are some ways you reduce or recycle? Do you have thoughts or suggestions for us? Let us know in the comments!

Check out Badger’s Zinc Oxide Sunscreens.

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