How to prove your sourcing credentials: interview with the Responsible Mica Initiative

By Lucy Whitehouse contact

- Last updated on GMT

How to prove your sourcing credentials: interview with the Responsible Mica Initiative
The Responsible Mica Initiative is pushing the industry to reach high standards of responsibility when it comes to sourcing practices. We hear what the key challenges are, and how to overcome them.

The Sustainable Cosmetics Summit,​ which takes place this year in Paris, 6 - 8th November, is set to address other metrics by which companies can be improving their sustainability profiles.

It will consider how the industry can create positive social value, how products can be used and disposed of responsibly, and also place emphasis on green values.

At the event, The RMI will present on their efforts to encourage and uphold high industry standards on responsible mica sourcing. We interviewed Fanny Frémont  from the organisation.

What are the key issues related to mica in the cosmetics supply chain today?

Mica is a group of minerals with a unique combination of physical properties (chemically inert, light, flexible and strong at the same time, reflect and refract light, resistant to high temperature and capable of insulate against electricity), which makes mica a key raw material for numerous industrial and consumer good sectors.

It is used as a pearlescent pigment for car paint and cosmetics, as a component of small electrical households and cables or a functional filler in construction materials, plastics, rubbers, and oil-drilling fluids.

The states of Jharkhand and Bihar in India represent one of the world’s largest source of mica. These two states are suffering from remoteness and lack of infrastructures. Local populations struggle with isolation, extreme poverty, illiteracy and insufficient education facilities.

The consequences of this situation, combined with a mica collection sector largely informal leads to major health & safety issues, economic dependency and child labor.

That's why we decided beginning of 2017 to create the Responsible Mica Initiative, a collaborative organization in which multiple industries & organizations jointly commit to using responsible sourcing practices and fostering local capacity to eradicate child labor and improve the livelihood of communities within a compliant and legal mica supply chain in India over the next 5 years.

How much progress has been made in recent years to ensure an ethical, responsible supply chain in the cosmetics industry?

The recently created Responsible Mica Initiative (RMI) aims at aligning several individual initiatives already initiated years ago, especially by cosmetic brands, pigment suppliers and local NGOs.

For instance, some RMI members have been working individually or with local NGO’s towards child friendly villages, or towards important improvement in their supply chain's sustainability; some others worked actively to strengthen the lobby in India to reach the goal of decent working conditions.

Beginning of 2017, all these actors and many others decided to join forces, share experience and expertise, and create the RMI with the three following objectives:

  • Increase traceability & implement fair and responsible practices along the Indian mica supply chains,

  • Empower local communities to ensure long lasting change,

  • Build a legal and livable environment for local communities,

Objectives to be reached in five years, which is totally unique!

How far are brands and ingredients companies committing to ensuring responsible mica sourcing? Are there any market leaders you want to highlight?

Today, all RMI's members are really committed. They are not all starting with the same level of knowledge and control of their supply chain, but when joining, they all commit to reach the same final sustainability.

They all dedicate time and human resources to participate in and support the RMI's action groups and workshops, and they all support financially its on-field actions.

What would you say are the next steps for the industry in this regard?

After one year of preparation work (where we collectively defined supply chains' Specifications and the Community Empowerment Program) we are now launching next November 15th in Delhi, India, our 5-years Implementation Phase.

We have to date a strong involvement of pigments, cosmetic, paints & coatings industries. Our challenge now, to reach a long lasting change in the area, is really to increase participation from automotive, electronic, cable… industries which are key actors in regards of mica consumption.

Are there any regulatory initiatives on global or local scales related to promoting responsible mica sourcing?

As far as I know, RMI is the only Initiative dealing to date with the responsible sourcing of Indian mica. More information is available here.

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