Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen is marketed to its consumers as being long-lasting and sweat/water resistant, with powerful sun protection for the outdoors and sports. The consumers for this product are likely athletic people who enjoy sports and the outdoors, and need a bit of extra strength when it comes to the durability of the sunscreen they use. When I went onto Banana Boat’s official website it was hard to find any information at all regarding this product’s sustainability. Overall I give this product a 0.8 out of 3 planets. I did this because Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen two active ingredients are titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide. Titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide are found to cause environmental disruptions in water systems.
As I looked through Banana Boat’s official website I was very disappointed by the lack of transparency in the sustainability of their products. Edgewell Personal Care is the manufacturer and owner of the brand Banana Boat. Edgewell Personal Care has very bold claims of having sustainability goals for the future (2030). Most of the goals that they have are, in my option, weak sustainability goals. There was nothing about changing their packing to being plastic free, and there were no goals about becoming a completely natural sunscreen with absolutely no harmful chemicals. Why can this company call themselves sustainable when they are knowingly still using ingredients like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide in their products? How can this product be considered “Reef Safe” if the two main active ingredients are damaging to water
Sunscreens commonly contain ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide which can harm coral reefs and sea creatures. Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen is no exception to these harmful ingredients. Although they are claiming to be a “Reef Safe” product by not including oxybenzone, and octinoxate in SOME of their sunscreens; the two active ingredients in this sunscreen are titanium dioxide 4.5% zinc oxide 6.5%. Greenwashing alert! In reality, Titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide have been found to cause environmental disruptions in water systems. Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide are the active ingredients used to protect against harmful UV rays. They both act to boost SPF protection by directly absorbing sunlight, but scientists have called for more clinical studies to determine if any of those tiny particles can enter the bloodstream. Long term exposure or concentration of titanium dioxide could be toxic to a variety of fish and other aquatic organisms. In sunscreens, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are present as tiny nanoparticles, which are coated with protective chemicals. Researchers have found that in water, the nanoparticles tend to lose their protective coating under the influence of UV light or seawater composition, which exposes the more toxic titanium dioxide to the aquatic environment.
In Edgewell’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) it states that the Environmental Precautions for this sunscreen are: “Prevent entry into waterways, sewers, basements, or confined areas. Do not flush into surface water or sanitary systems.” This is sunscreen we are talking about; the nature of this product is to eventually be exposed to some waterway at some point, whether it be the beach, a lake, or your shower. The SDS also claims, “the environmental impact of this product has not been determined.” As a consumer I know that there are environmental impacts from this product either way, and to me this looks like a case of greenwashing.
In the eyes of Banana Boat’s manufacturing company, Edgewell Personal Care, “Reef Friendly” means— no oxybenzone and octinoxate because those two chemicals have been more widely recognized as being damaging to reef ecosystems. The other two harmful ingredients (titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide) are just as damaging to marine ecosystems, and of course they are the two main active ingredients of this product. I’m not sure why would this company claim; “We are also committed to making 100% of our suncare formulas ‘reef-friendly’ by 2022”, because that is clearly false. In the fine print is says that Banana Boat products with existing SPF 100s will continue to use oxybenzone and octinoxate in the ingredients. In 2018, the Pacific nation of Palau became the first country to ban sunscreen containing oxybenzone, octinoxate, and other harmful elements.
As for packaging, Edgewell joined the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and has a How2Recycle label on some of their products packaging. Although it is helpful to include recycling instructions on the product, it is missing the idea of what sustainable packaging is. Having more reusable, and biodegradable/compostable packaging would be a great sustainability 2030 goal for this company!
Banana Boat Sunscreen lacks information on the manufacturing process of this product. Sunscreen generally is made with combinations of synthetic and natural ingredients. A formulation is geared towards a specific SPF rating or the needs of a specific consumer group. Edgewell Personal Care is based in Chesterfield, Missouri, but headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut. The average employee at Edgewell Personal Care makes $68,468 per year, which is competitive for the industry and location. Edgewells company wants its employees to be team driven, opportunity seeking, innovators. Edgewell promotes employee diversity, personal wellness, and a good work-life balance. They admit they are not perfect, but are actively seeking innovative ways to be better. I read reviews on glassdoor, and indeed from some of Edgewells past employees experiences working there; Most reviews were very pleasant and people usually enjoyed their time working with Edgewell.
The brand Banana Boat is owned by Edgewell Personal Care, which is an American consumer products corporation headquartered in Shelton, Connecticut. As well as the main manufacturing plant located in Milford, Connecticut. The company was formed in 2015 following the corporate spin-off from Energizer Holdings. Energizer Holdings is one of the world's largest manufacturers of batteries. As for Edgewell Personal Care, the company claims to have a new Sustainable 2030 strategy: their “ten sustainable commitments” which are meant to create “well-designed and well-made personal care products while continuously improving, with careful consideration for the well-being of both society and our planet.” They provide a SDS report, and also a review on Edgewells company sustainability. I could not find anything about what the ten sustainable commitments are exactly, but I did find that Edgewell did at least provide a FY19 Sustainability Report. I learned that the Board of Directors for this company oversees their sustainability practices. I would have to say that the “big idea” I got after reading through the FY19 Sustainability Report is that this manufacturing company is actively making small efforts within their own company to work towards a goal to be sustainable in 2030. This includes efforts such as reducing water/energy use, producing less packaging, reducing emissions and waste, and promoting employee well-being. But, ultimately, I do not sense true product sustainability from them. Yes, they have a team of sustainability experts who are working on new innovative products, but this does not speak true sustainability to me. True sustainability is very hard to achieve because it requires giving back to the Earth as much as the Earth has given to you; not continuing the conveyor belt of product waste.
https://edgewell.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Edgewell-Sustainability.pdf (reference to pg.17)