As an avid lip balm user, I normally look for products that are affordable and that wont run out in a week. Burt’s Bees is one of the most popular brands for lip balm, and presents as sustainable and eco-friendly. This product seems to be a great option that won’t destroy the planet! However, as they acknowledge, they could be doing better when it comes to using more recycled content in their packaging. Further, some of the information was difficult to find on where their materials came from, despite them being all natural.
Burt’s bees is transparent about what is in their products and they are listed directly below the product on the website. Additionally, on their website, this company has an entire ingredients glossary that tells you about each ingredient used in each of their products. This product consists of beeswax along with various other natural oils including: sunflower seed oil, soybean oil, rosemary oil, and the emphasized ingredient of hemp oil. They are quite vocal about producing products that have 100% natural ingredients, like their hemp lip balm. Further, their packaging is 100% recyclable and they use 50% recycled materials for their packaging, also avoiding excessive packaging by having an extendable label on this product. Burt’s bees purposely avoids harmful ingredients commonly found in other lip balms such as: phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).
Other than the ingredients emphasized for the marketing of the product, the hemp oil extract and the Beeswax, it is a little difficult to find information on where many of the essential oils and extracts come from. Despite this lip balm being 100% natural, I think that they could do a little bit better in making information on where the ingredients that are not the star of the show originate from.
For this specific product, the emphasized ingredient is the hemp oil. Burt’s Bees sources it’s hemp from farmers in Colorado. Hemp grows quite fast, without the need for herbicides and pesticides. Additionally, hemp is not a water intensive crop and is capable of flourishing in many different climates.
The main ingredient in Burt’s Bees products is the beeswax. Most of the wax for their products comes from Africa, where the company works with local beekeepers to raise the bees and harvest the wax. The wax is then shipped to their factory in Durham, North Carolina where it is made into pellets. After this crucial step, it is then melted down and mixed with the remaining ingredients (listed above). After mixing, a filling machine fills the tubes, which are heated and cooled to ensure the correct texture before capping. They are committed to manufacturing products that fit into the circular economy. Empty containers can be mailed to TerraCycle for free and turned into new recycled products, with free mailing labels available on their website.
From their founding in 1984, Burt’s bees has been striving for sustainable products. The company was bought in 2007 by Clorox, the same year that the Burt’s Bees sustainable good foundation was founded. Through this foundation, they donate money for research, education, and conservation. Though acquired by a larger corporation, Burt’s Bees has kept good on its core promises as a brand. In fact, since the acquisition, they haven’t sent any waste to landfill from manufacturing facilities or offices. Additionally, their operations are now carbon neutral and they continue to not test on animals. Furthermore, they have a commitment to sustainability and are able to recognize where their products fall short, publishing yearly sustainability reports and setting goals for the next year.
For ingredients grown outside of the United States, the company is committed to sourcing from farms that treat their employees with dignity and respect. Their goal is to source all of their beeswax from community sources and invest in 10 global supplier communities by 2020. They ensure responsible sourcing by having a business partner Code of Conduct, supplier self-assessments & site visits, supplier sustainability plans, third-party audits, and ingredient certification. In their 2018 Sustainability Report, they said they have conducted 69 raw material site visits and “provided protective equipment and beekeeping tools to 465 beekeepers in Tanzania and Vietnam where availability of these items is limited” to ensure that they are not exploiting the communities that they do business, despite not having complete control of their operations