Speaking ahead of next month’s Sustainable Cosmetics Summit (SCS) in Paris, an event organised by Ecovia Intelligence, Amarjit Sahota responds to some of the crucial questions facing the industry regarding sustainability.
See part two below. Part one, on the core major challenges facing the industry today, is available here.
Some market experts have begun to talk about 'next generation' sustainability. Can you offer any thoughts on this idea?
We are seeing a significant rise in sustainability reporting in the last 5-10 years, however it is important to make the following comments about this topic…
- Sustainability reporting is still very much confined to large corporations, typically publicly-listed firms. In some cases, these companies are obligated to do sustainability reports by country regulations. A growing number of countries are requesting publicly listed companies produce sustainability reports. E.g. Brazil and Sweden.
- An issue with these sustainability reports is standardisation, and this is where Global Reporting Initiative plays an important role in providing structure.
- Many small-medium sized companies do not produce sustainability reports. This is especially true in the cosmetics & personal care industry. Companies, such as Aveda and Weleda, have been pioneers in many aspects of sustainability however sustainability reporting is a new area for them. For instance, Weleda produced their first sustainability report in 2010, although it is almost a 100 year old company. Aveda’s sustainability initiatives are reported by its parent Estee Lauder Companies.
What are your highlights from the programme of this year's SCS edition in Europe? And why?
- A major theme of this year’s edition is sustainable sourcing. We shall highlight best-practices in the sustainable sourcing of raw materials, in terms of agricultural materials, wild harvested plants, but also non-plant ingredients like mica (mineral). We shall also look at tools that can help provide transparency and traceability in cosmetic ingredients, as well as discuss the future role of sustainability schemes (like RSPO), as well as standards and charters in this respect.
- - Green formulation is also a major theme whereby we give an update on natural / green ingredients for cosmetics & personal care products. We will discuss developments in green surfactants, botanical actives, as well as novel sources of green ingredients. L’Oreal will also give insights into how it is using green ingredients to create new cosmetic products that have lower environmental impact and / or social impact.
- For the first time, we have a dedicated session on social impacts. As stated before, this is an important area that is often neglected by cosmetic & raw material companies. We shall discuss the various ways such companies can create social value, whether it be for their suppliers, customers, or stake-holders.
- We shall also discuss approaches to encourage responsible consumption of cosmetic & personal care products. This is important for over 90% of the environmental impact of rinse-off products (e,g. shampoo, soaps, masks, etc.) is at the consumer level. The cosmetics industry needs to look at ways to reduce the impact at consumer level if it is going to be serious about sustainability.
More on the SCS event, 6 - 8 November, Paris, is available here.