As someone who always has bought Burt’s Bees Lip Balm, I think their product has a good price and lasts a long time. I think that Burt’s Bees has amazing community outreach and sustainability culture, but they could be more transparent about their labor practices at their global supplier communities and where some of their ingredients come from. Also, how ethical is it to source many of their raw materials from developing countries?
Burt’s Bees formulates without parabens, phthalates, petrolatum, and SLS. They also began adhering to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 16128 - Guidelines on Technical Definitions and Criteria for Natural and Organic Cosmetic Ingredients and Products which means the percentage of ingredients with natural origin will be displayed on their products. They are really dedicated to achieving 100% natural ingredients. This specific lip balm is 100% natural origin. Burt’s Bees is also Leaping Bunny certified, meaning no animals are tested on nor is anyone asked to test on their behalf.
Ingredients: cera alba (beeswax, cire d'abeille), cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, mentha piperita (peppermint) oil, lanolin, tocopherolrosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, glycine soja (soybean) oil, canola oil (huile de colza), limonene
The tube is made from 50% Post-Consumer Recycled plastic and vegetable ink is used to print the labels. Because their label extends, they save 1,800 miles of plastic shrink wrap each year.
The beeswax is sourced directly from local beekeepers in Tanzania as part of their Community Sourced initiative. The bee hives are kept on the Moyowosi-Kigosi game reserve in Tanzania and it is far from the beekeepers’ village of Uyowa, Tanzania to prevent pollution from human activities. The hives are checked 3 times a year and harvesting takes place in June and from September to October. The honey is gathered and filtered out to get the empty combs. The combs are melted down and after they are cooled, what’s left is the beeswax which is sold at local markets. Half of the wax in lip balms come from Tanzania. Their goal is to source all of their beeswax from community sources and invest in 10 global supplier communities by 2020. They make sure they are responsibly 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”. Other ingredients such as sunflower seed oil and peppermint oil are sourced from the US.
The beeswax is then purified at the headquarters in Durham, North Carolina. The beeswax is made into pellets that are then melted. It is mixed with the raw ingredients (coconut oil, sunflower oil, rosemary leaf extract, peppermint oil) in a giant mixing tank for several hours. Next, the mixture fills up the empty tubes going through the filling machine at a rate of 500 tubes per minute. The filled tubes are then heated and cooled to get the right texture. Caps are added and the tubes are labeled and individually coded in a line.
For their packaging, the lip balm tubes are all recyclable. Empty containers can be mailed to TerraCycle for free and turned into new recycled products. Prepaid mailing labels are found on their website. This makes it easy for consumers to recycle and shows that Burt’s Bees want to close the loop to have a circular economy. Along with this, Burt’s Bees has been Carbon Neutral certified with help from Natural Capital Partners since 2015. They also buy Water Restoration Certificates from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to offset their water usage by restoring watersheds.
Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby created Burt’s Bees in the early 1980s. Their headquarters are in Durham, North Carolina. Clorox bought Burt’s Bees in 2007. Clorox’s board consists of 11 members with 3 women and 3 minority members. 7 out of their 14 executive members are women or minorities including the President.
In 2007, the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation was established to support biodiversity and pollinator health through grants for research, education, and conservation as well as donations to non-profit organizations. In 2016, the Bring Back the Bees program in partnership with RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International) planted wildflowers next to farmland to give pollinators food. They have planted over 15 billion seeds. Burt’s Bees also has many other partnerships (E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, The John Avery Boys & Girls Club, Habitat For Humanity, etc.), some which are local, to do community outreach.
The home office has nearly 300 people working. Everyone’s personal trash is sorted into 6 groups: compost, paper, plastic film, plastic, glass & aluminum, or waste-to-energy. Volunteers every month make sure trash is sorted properly. None of their operational waste has gone into landfills since 2010. Every year, a Culture Day is held where employees will promote community outreach such as planting gardens or building bee hive boxes. Employees are also paid for volunteering.
They are really trying to support communities impacted by COVID-19 through money donations, grants, and product donations as well as their production team with enhanced pay, greater flexibility, and an Employee Emergency Relief Fund.