The summit covered some of the major areas of sustainability in cosmetics, and the hosts, Organic Monitor, hope it can encourage more companies to take the green path towards sustainable development.
“The most important thing for me (and Organic Monitor) is that the beauty industry is only just waking up to the importance of sustainability. There is so much more cosmetic and ingredient companies can do to make the industry more sustainable,” Amarjit Sahota, president of Organic Monitor, told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com.
Show structured to give holistic view
There were several discussion points over the three days, as the conference programme was structured to give a broad-based understanding of sustainability in the industry, focusing on formulation, sourcing, marketing and packaging.
Sahota highlighted the need for cosmetics to go beyond green formulations, expanding on ethical sourcing and standards which have been the main focus up until now.
Practical approaches to lower environmental and social impacts was a key theme of the summit, with several speakers calling for positive action from the beauty industry.
The need for positive change was reiterated by Jean-Yves Berthon in his opening address. The founder of Greentech urged cosmetic companies to develop ethical relationships when sourcing raw materials.
‘The discussion should be about having positive impacts, not reducing negative impacts’
Professor Dr. Michael Braungart, one of the featured speakers, challenged beauty companies to be more positive rather than lessening their guilt.
According to the founder of the Cradle-to-Cradle design approach, drawing on examples from the beverage industry, pioneering companies need to become carbon positive, rather than just carbon neutral.
He stated there was a concern that too many beauty companies were considering sustainability because of guilt, rather than a genuine desire to change.
“I really enjoyed having Professor Dr. Michael Braungart participating at the summit. He has somewhat radical views about sustainability, but is very inspirational,” Sahota commented.
Sustainable packaging still being ignored
Sustainable packagingwas the focus of the last session of the conference, with key speakers exploring the gamut of sustainable packaging solutions available to beauty companies.
However the subject is still not regarded as a high priority for cosmetics companies, something which Organic Monitor hope will change.
“Adoption of sustainable packaging remains very low; very few companies are looking at their carbon footprints, whilst water footprint is largely ignored, etc. The cosmetics industry is only now looking at sustainability, so we believe we have only started to discuss the major issues via this summit,” said Sahota.
“Sustainability is a relatively new subject area for the cosmetics industry, so it has a very long way to go.”