Bringing together over 160 executives from the cosmetics industry, the summit highlighted key areas for sustainable development in the regional cosmetics industry, such as addressing social impacts and overcoming legal obstacles; but it was biodiversity that proved to be a key focus.
The two-day conference’s second session featured a detailed account of the Brazilian biodiversity legislation, explaining how it was introduced to protect genetic assets of the country, but was now stifling innovation.
Legal framework hinders innovation
According to the summit organisers, Organic Monitor, “the existing legal framework penalises Brazilian companies not obtaining approval when developing novel ingredients, however it has not yet been enforced to foreign companies.”
The varying interpretations of the biodiversity legislation has therefore created uncertainty, with companies like L’Oreal taking a cautious approach when sourcing raw materials from the country.
“Brazilian legislation prevents cosmetic companies to make ‘organic claims’ on their products unless they meet national standards,” says Organic Monitor.
“However the country has yet to introduce a standard for organic cosmetics. International organic cosmetic brands are therefore forced to market their products as ‘natural’ in the Brazilian market.”
Findings from the Union for Ethical Biodiversity Barometer revealed that Brazilian consumers are the most aware of biodiversity in the world.
The 2012 survey showed that 97 per cent are aware of biodiversity and 38 per cent can give a proper definition.
Biodiversity and further discussions about sustainable development in the cosmetics industry will continue in the upcoming Asia-Pacific (Hong Kong, 12-13th November) and European (Paris, 21-23rd November) editions of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit.