There has been increasing interest from the cosmetics industry in ethically sourcing ingredients, and this has lead to a demand in education and transparency in the way companies go about their actions.
Speaking at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Paris, founder and CEO, Jean-Yves Berthon, explained that too often local areas are ruined by companies looking to source active ingredients without much concern for the effect on the local environment.
Recently the Body Shop decided to terminate its contract with a Colombian palm oil supplier over claims that it pushed for the eviction of peasants to increase its plantation, an action which many at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, including Berthon, see as a positive move.
Coherence vital to ethical sourcing
Berthon outlined that companies should embrace values and co-operate as a conscious consumer when it comes to sourcing ingredients, ensuring coherence with the local way of life, and establishing a long term beneficial relationship with the surrounding environment.
He also highlighted that companies should share their experiences in preventing and preserving their sourcing actions to ensure further understanding.
The big challenge is now to translate the interest in ethical sourcing into good practice and ensure consistency in these actions.
Berthon stated there is still a lack of knowledge and understanding about how ethical sourcing can be effectively implemented, and that education is the main step forward.
Increased demand means increased innovation
With the increased purchasing power and demand of BRIC customers and the increasing size of the cosmetics sector, Berthon commented that the market requires innovation and new ingredients, which adhere with positive environmental attitudes.
The cosmetics sector used to represent a ‘niche’ or ‘luxe’ segment, but the growth of the market has given it a ‘masstige’ profile, according to Berthon, and this has encouraged further sourcing, meaning attitudes in the industry need to incorporate respect and consistency for local environments and indigenous populations.