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January 13, 2020
At SunButter, we’re on a mission to lower our impact on this planet by inspiring our customers to upcycle their used tins! But why do we use tins in the first place?
Did you know that only 30% of plastic ever produced is still in use and that only 9% of the plastic we have disposed of is recycled?
That’s a staggering figure and one of the many reasons why SunButter had to be plastic-free (inside and out). We decided to package our products in aluminium tins, which have a much more efficient recycling process. In fact, roughly 75% of aluminium ever produced is still in use today.
However, recycling is still not the best solution for our used tins. We recently started an Upcycle Campaign at SunButter, where we encourage our customers to think of innovative ways to reuse our useful little tins as much as possible, before they get offered to recycling.
But if tin recycling is better than plastic, why should we bother to upcycle? To answer that question, we have to first explain the concept of linear and circular economies.
Today’s economy relies heavily on a linear system, which involves mass-producing products and maintaining our ever-increasing consumption model, with no regard for the end result. A linear economy looks like this:
Extract Resources → Manufacture Products → Distribute → Use → Dispose
Many people believe that the solution to our growing waste problem is to increase our recycling rates.
The reason we recycle is so we can recover and reuse the raw material of an existing product to reduce the amount we use in the creation of new products. In theory, this should feedback into the system, creating a loop, otherwise known as a circular economy. But in reality, recycling doesn’t always work that way.
The truth is that the items we send to be recycled often end up in landfill, get shipped halfway across the world to poorer countries, or even end up floating around our oceans. Moreover, investing in a bigger and better recycling system will lead to further energy loss and is only exacerbating the issue.
Instead of finding better ways to deal with the side effects of the linear economy, we should focus on fighting the root of the problem by promoting a circular economy. Of course, recycling is much better than landfill and is a great way to feedback into the system (as long as it’s done effectively). However, it still requires energy and doesn’t add value to the original raw material or improve it in any way.
The idea behind a circular economy is that we aim to prevent waste in the first place. This can be achieved through the creation of longer-lasting products, maintaining and repairing them when necessary, reusing/upcycling products and finally regenerating or recovering the materials used to make them.
Upcycling is the process of reusing waste or an unwanted product and giving it new life. You can upcycle a redundant item into anything you want it to be, whether that’s something useful or something creative. In other words, to upcycle is to care for and value a product and to preserve it in any way that you can.
Check out our video on how to care for your SunButter Sunscreen tin!
Sunscreen is classed as a medicine in Australia and, unfortunately, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) doesn’t permit this to be refilled in reusable packaging. SunButter has strict guidelines to follow for packaging and use, but despite this, we are continuing to communicate with the TGA to find a solution.
Whilst we don’t directly reuse our own tins, we do our best to inspire our customers to upcycle them once the sunscreen has run out.
If you’ve read our blog on sustainable resolutions for 2020, then you will know that reducing the impact we have on the environment is an issue close to our hearts. This is why we have started our SunButter Upcycle Campaign. In an effort to reduce waste, we would like our customers to use their wonderful imaginations to give their empty tins new life.
Succulent pots, decorations, artwork, homemade cosmetics tubs, jewellery tins...the possibilities are endless!
Join us in upcycling your old sunscreen and surf zinc tins and use the hashtag #SpreadTheButterFurther to be featured on SunButter’s social media feed, which you can find on our Upcycle page.
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