Key cosmetics sustainability concerns in Europe

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Key cosmetics sustainability concerns in Europe

Related tags Sustainability

The recent Sustainable Cosmetics Summit has released the key findings from the event on the top sustainability issues facing the industry in Europe.

The summit held its European edition in Paris, 24 - 26 October, and the key issues tackled included the impact of specific chemicals on the environment, in particular those often used in sunscreens and also microplastics.

Looking ahead, the summit proposed that the industry will need build on its ethical credentials, with the banning of animal-testing methods and polyethylene beads (microbeads) that has been seen in countries across the world a taste of things to come.

Sunscreens and plastic alternatives

Despite palm oil and microplastics having been often in the spotlight for the sustainability concerns they pose, the summit’s European edition considered other chemicals that are also having a detrimental impact on the environment.

Allard Marx, founder and CEO of Aethic, called for greater scrutiny of sunscreen chemicals, which are destroying coral reef in many parts of the world, and Andrew Thompson of Ronald Britton stated that at least 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean each year, disrupting marine eco-systems.

Putting the case forward for alternatives, Ronald Britton noted it has developed bio-based glitter as an alternative to conventional glitter, and J. Rettenmaier & Soehne also made the case for its cellulose-based green exfoliants.

Clarins on anti-pollution

With air pollution linked to increased skin sensitivity and pigmentation, the ongoing rise of anti-pollution skincare was covered in both editions.

Alain Khaiat of Seers Consulting gave details of natural ingredients with anti-pollution qualities, while Clarins, often picked out as a leader in the field of anti-pollution skin care, said that it has examined the impact of major pollutants in outdoor and indoor environments to develop its range of anti-pollution skin care and cosmetic products.

Both speakers believe anti-pollution will become mainstream as more consumers become aware of the effects of air pollutants on skin health.

What’s ahead?

The summits closed with questions being raised about long-term sustainable development. Organisers picked out the following three as key concerns:

  • With most operators focusing on environmental footprints, should the cosmetics industry do more to address its social impacts?

  • In light of the recent rise in populist politics, especially in the US and UK, significant sections of the population appear to be disillusioned with the current state of global business. What can the cosmetics industry do to make a social difference?

  • The industry has taken the lead in banning animal-testing methods and polyethylene beads in many parts of the world, however, can it now start creating positive social impacts?

Event organisers note that these discussions will continue in the next edition of this executive summit: New York, May 4-5th 2017.

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