Given recent events with the climate change summit in Paris last month and rising consumer interest in where products come from and how sustainable they are, it has become increasingly important for cosmetics companies and brands to take note.
“Consumers are asking more questions about sustainability and are putting ethical matters into their purchasing criteria,” Emma tells CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com, explaining that this is interesting from both a marketing and, more importantly, an environmental perspective.
“By highlighting the importance of sustainability in manufacturing we are ultimately ensuring a better future for our industry and the planet,” she says.
One way that can help highlight ethical practice and show the consumer they can trust a product is through integrity symbols and labels on packs.
There has been some criticism due to the proliferation of natural and organic labels increasing recently, however Emma explains that with certain trusted symbols, such as the Soil Association, consumers can trust that a certified product’s supply chain meets the rigorous standard of organic and therefore provides a sustainable supply chain.
“As consumers recognise these symbols in greater numbers, there will be pressure for the whole industry to bring the sustainability baseline up to an acceptable level,” she adds.
No question… ‘we must’
Ultimately, going down the ethical route can actually be the best route for cosmetics companies, according to Reinhold, as like with all consumer products, knowing where products have come from and how they have been made will become more and more important for consumers.
“Sustainability can and should be the foundation for all companies as it does pay off,” she says.
“The triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) has worked for brands like Neal’s Yard Remedies and Burt’s Bees, the latter although not organic, has promoted this ethos for years.”
And Emma states that being sustainable shouldn’t just fall to smaller companies, as it can be done at scale too – though it does take a certain level of commitment and companies who have ignored a sustainable strategy will find it more challenging than others.
“It’s no longer a case of ‘should we’ it’s a case of ‘we must’. The situation must improve and we all have our part to play, from the marketers and packaging manufacturers, to the ingredients suppliers and formulators,” Emma continues.
“The fashion industry is now seen as the second most polluting industry after oil, it would be a tragedy if the cosmetics and toiletries industry followed suit.”
The Soil Association partnered with the in-cosmetics group to launch a white paper on sustainability in the industry, laying out four main actions that the industry can take collaboratively towards a more sustainable operating model.