Are Australian Gold products biodegradable? (7 qualities of good sunscreens) 

This article will explain whether Australian Gold products are biodegradable or not. Other covered aspects would include: 

  • Are Australian Gold Products biodegradable?
  • Are Australian Gold Products reef-safe?
  • How green is the packaging of Australian Gold Products?
  • Are Australian Gold Products actually safe?
  • What should be the qualities of good sunscreens?
  • FAQs

Are Australian Gold products biodegradable?

Australian Gold products are regarded as biodegradable because they are mineral-based and are not made from any harmful chemicals such as parabens or benzoate. Australian Gold products are also reef-safe which means that there will be no significant impact on the coral reefs. 

Australian Gold products come in recyclable packaging made from plastics which can be improved to become biodegradable or compostable packaging. 

The production of Australian Gold products is done while considering environmental impact. Many practices such as crop rotation, low heat farming, and crop optimisations are done to ensure that the yield is maximum but the impact is minimal. 

What is the case of Australian Gold products in terms of biodegradability?

To determine the case for Australian Gold products, it has to be noted what materials are used to make Australian Gold products. 

It is seen that most products made by Australian Gold are mineral-based and avoid the use of harmful chemicals that may damage the skin and the environment. These chemicals include: 

  • PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid)
  • Octinoxate
  • Oxybenzone
  • Parabens 
  • 4-methyl benzylidene
  • Camphor
  • Butylparaben

Biodegradability is the breakdown of waste into simpler materials by the action of microbes. These microbes include bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, and even yeast. 

There is a general understanding concerning biodegradability that natural materials or products made from natural materials can easily and readily be degraded by microbes as compared to non-biodegradable. 

The reason why natural materials are more prone to be degraded by microbes is that these materials have natural and nutritional content in them which can be used as food by the microbes. 

To determine if a product is biodegradable or not, there are two factors that need to be considered: 

  • The time taken by a product to degrade in a natural setting
  • The environmental impact of that product 

Since it has been established that Australian Gold products are made from natural materials, it can be claimed that Australian Gold products are biodegradable.

Australian Gold is a mineral sunscreen that does not contain harmful elements such as oxybenzone or PABA. It is also paraben-free. Owing to this, Australian Gold products are regarded as one of the most eco-friendly options available. 

If a product is biodegradable, does it mean it is safe?

Yes, it can be considered safe as a biodegradable cosmetic product would only contain natural ingredients which do not harm the coral reefs and are degraded naturally in the environment.

However, there is a lot of grey area and still, more research needs to be done to fully understand the impacts of these ingredients on the environment. Many sunscreens contain minerals such as titanium oxide instead of zinc oxide. 

Titanium oxide has been recently reported to produce hydrogen peroxide (a harmful chemical for marine life) when mixed with water. 

From a general perspective, a sunscreen which has natural ingredients and biodegradable packaging is the best sunscreen and can be considered safe but if its packaging is not biodegradable but recyclable, it is still acceptable but not preferred.

Are Australian Gold products reef-safe too?

Reef-safe or reef-friendly sunscreens are those that do not contain any synthetic chemicals such as oxybenzone or octinoxate which are harmful to the coral reefs and are non-biodegradable. 

Many companies either consciously or unconsciously mislabel their sunscreen products as reef-safe because they do not fully understand the difference between the two terms and do not know how exactly they are to be understood. 

Although the terms can and are used interchangeably, still there are some differences. Reef-safe means that a product contains no such chemical or mineral ingredients that are known to be harmful to coral reefs hence they are termed as “safe”.

While reef-friendly products are those products that contain chemicals or minerals which cause very low or negligible damage to the coral reefs hence they are considered as “friendly” but manufacturers often mislabel their products in order to hide and better market their products.

As we have assessed that the materials used in Australian Gold products do not cause any definite harm to coral reefs, therefore, it can be said that Australian Gold products are actually reef-safe and do not cause any significant harm to the coral reefs. 

How green is the packaging of Australian Gold products?

The best type of packaging for any product is one that is biodegradable, meaning that it can be degraded into a simpler form by natural decomposers such as fungi, bacteria, nematodes etc. Similarly, the best packaging for cosmetic products should ideally be biodegradable.

It is understandable that these products might have to lie on the shelf for two or three years maybe and by that time the biodegradable packaging might not survive hence companies have to resort to non-biodegradable materials for packaging. These materials often include plastics. 

Plastics are widely used for all sorts of packaging so it comes down to whether non-biodegradable packaging is recyclable or not. Certain plastics such as bioplastics, and composite plastics are non-recyclable hence they pose a serious threat to the environment by staying on the plant for hundreds of years.

Recyclable plastics on the other hand such as polyethene can be recycled easily and hence are preferred second-in-line after biodegradable packaging. So, an environmentally conscious person would pick a sunscreen which has biodegradable packaging or at least recyclable packaging. 

These plastic bottles may be made from conventional plastics such as polyethene or polycarbonate. Most plastics usually require hundreds of years to degrade. 

The problem is not only with biodegradability, the problem also is with the health implications caused by plastic bottles. Although there are safer options as well, the following are the general health impacts caused by harmful plastics: 

  • Hormone disruption
  • Developmental issues
  • Neurological issues
  • Cancer 
  • Damage to the foetus 

That is why, it is asserted that the recycling aspect of Australian Gold products  must be cashed so that the detrimental impacts on the en

What should be the qualities of good sunscreens?

Let us diverge against the conformity of Australian Gold products. For any reason, Australian Gold products are not available. What other options can you pursue?

In other words, what should be the qualities of good sunscreens that discern good sunscreen from non-eco-friendly sunscreens? 

  • Its ingredients should not include any synthetic material which is non-biodegradable i.e., oxybenzone.
  • It should not have any natural ingredient that has an indirect environmental impact i.e., palm oil etc.
  • It should have an SPF of at least 15 and ideally 30.
  • All of its ingredients should be biodegradable.
  • Zinc oxide should be used instead of titanium oxide as an active ingredient.
  • Its packaging should be biodegradable or at least recyclable if biodegradable packaging is not possible.
  • It should not compromise on the utilitarian aspect as well.

Are Australian Gold products actually safe?

From the points we have discussed so far, it appears that Australian Gold products are a really safe option not only for the skin but also for the environment. 

However, recent research has furrowed some eyebrows. Let us explore some of those aspects. Although Australian Gold products are mostly mineral-based, recent research has shown that minerals such as Titanium oxide and Titanium dioxide can produce hydrogen peroxide (a harmful chemical for marine life) when mixed with water. 

If we explore the list of ingredients of Australian Gold products, we see that there is the inclusion of titanium dioxide. This one example can help us build a stance that although Australian Gold products are made with a green approach, there is and will be much more to be done in order to be actually called sustainable and eco-friendly. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that Australian Gold products are regarded as biodegradable because they are mineral based and are not made from any harmful chemicals such as parabens or benzoate. Australian Gold products are also reef-safe which means that there will be no significant impact on the coral reefs. 

Australian Gold products come in recyclable packaging made from plastics which can be improved to become biodegradable or compostable packaging. 

The production of Australian Gold products is done while considering environmental impact. Many practices such as crop rotation, low heat farming, and crop optimisations are done to ensure that the yield is maximum but the impact is minimal. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Are Australian Gold products biodegradable?

Is biodegradable sunscreen good at its function?

Yes, biodegradable sunscreens are equally effective. Further, since there are no chemical uses, these sunscreens are actually better for the skin because there is no risk of diseases. 

What is reef-safe sunscreen?

Reef-safe sunscreens are sunscreens that do not contain chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. These chemicals damage coral reefs. 

What are the products made from Australian Gold?

The products made by the Australian Gold brand include aloe gel, tanning lotions, body essentials, and sunscreens. 

References

  • Hernandez-Pedraza, M., Caballero-Vázquez, J. A., Peniche-Pérez, J. C., Pérez-Legaspi, I. A., Casas-Beltran, D. A., & Alvarado-Flores, J. (2020). Toxicity and hazards of biodegradable and non-biodegradable sunscreens to aquatic life of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Sustainability, 12(8), 3270.
  • Wood, Elizabeth (2018). Impacts of sunscreens on coral reefs. International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), 20
  • Chatzigianni, M., Pavlou, P., Siamidi, A., Vlachou, M., Varvaresou, A., & Papageorgiou, S. (2022). Environmental impacts due to the use of sunscreen products: a mini-review. Ecotoxicology, 1-15.
  • Australian Gold. Retrieved from: https://www.australiangold.com
  • Pelley, Janet. (August 08, 2014). Sunscreens Release Hydrogen Peroxide Into Seawater. Retrieved from: https://cen.acs.org/articles/92/web/2014/08/Sunscreens-Release-Hydrogen-Peroxide-Seawater.html

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