Brazilian suppliers' ethical stance garners shortlisting for global prize

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Natural ingredients, Cosmetics, Brazil

This year's World Challenge 2007 competition, promoted by the BBC
and Newsweek, features a project initiated by Brazilian personal
care ingredient supplier Beraca that highlights the company's
ethical practices.

World Challenge, which is sponsored by petroleum giant Shell, is now entering into its third year and is being used as a platform to highlight profitable business projects that simultaneously put something back into the community as well as helping to support the environment. The competition draws attention to the global pressures businesses are coming under to operate in ethical and eco-friendly terms, something that is being driven by the fact that consumers are increasling seeking out products that reflect these attributes. This year the competition features 12 entries from around the world, with two entries from Brazil, both involving the supply of natural ingredients to the cosmetics industry. Beraca's Out of the Forest entry highlights the sustainable sourcing of oil extracted from the seeds of the Andiroba trees, found on the island of Marajo, in the Amazon basin. The project, which has been entered in the competition under the name of Brasmazon, the company's Belem-based subsidiary, involves 1,000 local people who collect the seeds and extract the valuable oil, known for its moisturizing properties. The initiative ensures a livelihood for the islanders during the wet season when they cannot fish backed by a guaranteed price for the oil. The other entry is S.O.S: Save Our Seaweed, a project that seeks to ensure the sustainable sourcing of seaweed from Brazil's North Eastern coast line. In recent years this small but significant industry has been faced with the challenge of over-farming, which has affected seaweed supplies used by the cosmetics industry, as well as upsetting the delicate marine eco-system, in turn affecting fishing communities. This project focuses on sustainable supplies by involving the fishing community in the sustainable farming of seaweed by using fishing ropes to grow the seaweed on - a process that takes two months and which is easy to carry out. As well as bringing in money to the fishing community during a time when catches have been low, it is also helping to restock the waters, as seaweed-dependent fish stocks are currently reported to be recovering. Specific to the cosmetics sector, these projects reflect the fact that consumers want to buy products that have been ethically sourced, as well as hitting on the growing trend for well-being - in short products that are good for them. All of this has led to an emphasis on natural based ingredients, as they are perceived to be healthier than potentially harsher man-made alternatives. However, the sourcing of natural-based ingredients has become a particular issue as increased demand is leading to supply gaps and issues over sustainability. This means that not only is the pressure on to maintain supplies of natural ingredients to the personal care industry, but also to ensure that those supplies are ethically and responsibly sourced. In recent years Brazil has come to the fore as one of the world's most significant sources of natural ingredients for the personal care industry, due to the vast swathes of naturally fertile lands and forests that harbor numerous indigenous plants. But under the growing pressure from environmentalists and eco-friendly consumers, many of the country's cosmetics suppliers and manufacturers are having to respond to these demands with the introduction of projects that meet these demands.

Related topics: Skin Care, Hair Care, Colour Cosmetics

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