Some of the pressing sustainability issues facing the cosmetics industry were debated at the Asia-Pacific and European editions of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit (www.sustainablecosmeticssummit.com). Contentious chemicals in personal care formulations, resource and carbon management, and packaging impacts were stated as key industry concerns.
Several papers discussed the environmental impact of personal care ingredients at the European edition, hosted in Paris on 24-26th October. Although there is high awareness about palm oil and polyethylene beads, other chemicals are also having a detrimental impact on the environment.
Allard Marx, founder and CEO of Aethic, called for greater scrutiny of sunscreen chemicals, which are destroying coral reef in many parts of the world. Andrew Thompson of Ronald Britton stated that at least 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean each year, disrupting marine eco-systems. His company has developed bio-based glitter as an alternative to conventional glitter. J. Rettenmaier & Soehne also made the case for its cellulose-based green exfoliants.
With air pollution linked to increased skin sensitivity and pigmentation, the advent of anti-pollution skincare was covered in both editions. Alain Khaiat of Seers Consulting gave details of natural ingredients with anti-pollution qualities. Clarins said that it has examined the impact of major pollutants in outdoor and indoor environments to develop its range of anti-pollution skin care and cosmetic products. Both speakers believe anti-pollution will become mainstream as more consumers become aware of the effects of air pollutants on skin health.
The need for resource efficiency was stressed at the Asia-Pacific edition, taking place in Hong Kong on 14–15th November. Angela Buglass, CEO of Trilogy, called for more companies to address their carbon footprints. The New Zealand based natural skincare brand has been carbon neutral since 2007.
Amore Pacific, the largest cosmetics firm in South Korea, gave details on how it is reducing its carbon and water impacts. Apart from developing eco-friendly processes, it has set up the Osulloc Tea Garden (organic) in Jeju Island, which is absorbing 900 tonnes of CO2 per year. Water stewardship is also important, with the company using 32,059 tons of rainwater in its facilities.
Steven Ko, founder and CEO of O’ Right, was present at the Hong Kong summit. As well as carbon neutral, the Taiwanese natural hair care brand is reducing its water footprint and has Cradle-To-Cradle (C2C) certification. The company is using ground coffee as a raw material in its product formulations. Hanna Hallin gave insights into the
sustainability initiatives undertaken by H&M; 20% of the raw materials used by the fashion retailer are now sustainable sourced. H&M Conscious, its new organic beauty range, is part of the retailer’s strategy to make sustainable products affordable to all.
Davide Bollati, Chairman of the Italian sustainable hair care company Davines, shared the company’s experiences at the European edition. In 2017, Davines will open its sustainable village which will produce natural ingredients, create zero waste, whilst being powered by green energy.
In another paper, William Cook from Marks & Spencer stated its Plan A gives a roadmap for its goal to become the most sustainable major retailer in the world. Two thirds of its products now have a Plan A feature, including its Pure Natural beauty range which is made from grape waste.
Professor Andrew Parker, Founder and CEO of Lifescaped, gave a keynote on the potential of biomimetics. According to Parker, there are concerns about losing nature’s technology since every hour three species are becoming extinct on Earth. He urged the cosmetics industry to harness nature’s potential to create innovative products.
The future outlook for ethical labels was discussed at the Asia-Pacific edition. Daniel Jang from the Korean company Jejuorga gave details of the new Jeju Cosmetics label for sustainable cosmetics.
An update was also given of the upcoming Marine Stewardship standard for sustainable seaweed and its application in personal care products. Concerns were raised about the implications of the ethical labelling trend: will proliferation continue, or will some multi-attribute standards evolve?
The summits closed with questions being raised about long-term sustainable development. With most operators focusing on environmental footprints, should the cosmetics industry do more to address its social impacts? In light of the recent rise in populist politics, especially in the US and UK, significant sections of the population appear to be disillusioned with the current state of global business.
What can the cosmetics industry do to make a social difference? The industry has taken the lead in banning animal-testing methods and polyethylene beads in many parts of the world, however can it now start creating positive social impacts? The discussions will continue in the next edition of this executive summit: New York, May 4-5th 2017.
About the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit
Since 2009, the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit has been covering sustainability issues in the cosmetic & personal care industry. The international series of summits now takes place in the major geographic regions of the world. The European edition was hosted at the Paris Marriott Champs-Elysées on 24-26th October, whilst the Asia-Pacific edition took place in Hong Kong on 14-15th November.
The European summit in pictures
The Asia-Pacific summit in pictures
About Organic Monitor
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