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Post Rio+20, cosmetic companies noted for pledge to sustainability

By Michelle Yeomans , 11-Dec-2012
Last updated the 03-May-2013 at 10:22 GMT

Whilst some corporations and business groups primarily from Europe were pressed for more action at the Summit, dozens particularly from the cosmetics industry, were noted for voluntarily pledging to become more planet-friendly and transparent in their reporting on sustainability measures.

There is a concern that every country will do how much – or how little – they like to encourage sustainable development. In such a scenario, it looks as if the onus is falling on the private sector to set industry benchmarks and standards for sustainability,” says Organic Monitor on the matter.

In light of the Summit, the market researcher says many cosmetic and ingredient firms are in fact leading the way in ethical sourcing.

Latin America – the most biologically diverse region on the planet – is becoming a hotbed of sustainable sourcing projects that cover various environmental and social aspects.”

Cosmetic companies like L’Oreal, Unilever and J&J have set up R&D centers in the region whilst ingredient companies like Symrise, Givaudan, and Laboratories Expanscience are also involved in ethical sourcing projects when seeking out novel ingredients in the vast range of plant species in the region.

Voluntary agreements from the cosmetics sector..

The monitoring body goes on to highlight one of the largest cosmetic companies in the region, Natura Brasil as being involved in a number of sustainable sourcing projects that promote biodiversity whilst catering to the needs of local communities.

"The company also leads in other areas of sustainability, such as tackling climate change; it has been carbon neutral since 2007 and recognition came this year when it was named as the second most sustainable corporation in the world."

As well as undertaking ethical sourcing projects, the second leading Brazilian cosmetic firm Grupo Boticario is also noted for setting up a foundation for conservation projects.

"The Boticário Group Foundation protects over 11,000 hectares of Atlantic Rainforest and Cerrado, two of the most endangered biomes in Brazil. The foundation has donated over USD 10 million in nature reserve programs, enabling the discovery of 37 new species of plants and animals."

Companies like Beraca and Lab Favre have also been involved in preventing environmental degradation and addressing social inequality for decades.

Some officals aren't convinced

However, its been six months since the summit and the jury is still said to be out on whether the conference can encourage greener growth and EU officials are said to be placing their hopes on the voluntary agreements by certain sectors. 

According to a European news website, EurActiv.com; in the months leading up to the conference in Rio de Janeiro, officials were promising to fight for binding commitments on green growth, little of that happened and they are still said to be questioning whether the conference will lead to change in the absence of major commitments.

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