Editor's Spotlight

Three sustainability initiatives making different but positive impacts on the industry

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Three sustainability initiatives making different but positive impacts on the industry
The three biggest cosmetic and personal care players in the world have just announced very different initiatives, but each one makes a big nod in the direction of sustainability.

All announced during the month of November, Procter & Gamble has been platforming its goals to achieve zero waste, Unilever partnership with an Italian bioplastic microspheres specialist and L’Oréal’s joint venture with a tech start-up aimed at reducing the amount of water needed to rinse out shampoo.

Each initiative is very different, but each one has the potential to make a huge impact, particularly as the volumes of production that these huge multinationals deal in means that even the smallest of initiatives can make a big difference to the overall picture.

Unilever looks to plastic microbead alternatives

Unilever has joined forces with Italian bioplastic specialists, Bio-On to improve the personal care sector's impact on the environment.

Bio-On uses patented technologies to produce natural biodegradable microplastics, providing a more environmentally friendly alternative to the non-biodegradable microplastics the industry has been using for many years, commonly in facial and body scrubs.

Microbead pollution has been identified as a significant problem in waterways and marine environments throughout the developed world, simply because the plastic microbeads do not bidodegrade, causing them to pollute such environment and posing a threat to marine life.

With a core focus on delivering a smaller or zero environmental impact, the two companies have entered into a strategic alliance using exclusive the technologies to produce more environmentally-friendly end products. 

The collaboration and environmentally-conscious decision comes as the two companies reconfirm their commitment to supporting a “more sustainable economy and more responsible consumption”​​ in the personal care industry.

L'Oréal realises shampooing uses a lot water!

Meanwhile, L’Oréal has forged a partnership with tech company Gjosa to develop a shampoo that requires five times less water to rinse it off.

It is a lesser known fact that in the full cycle of many personal care products – from manufacturing through to its use by consumers and eventual disposal -  it is the necessary use of significant volumes of warm water for a range of foaming or soap-based products that invariably has the highest impact on the environment.

This is why the project conceived between L’Oréal and Gjosa is so interesting and actually has the potential to significantly change the environmental impact of the industry in the future.

The joint project has resulted in the development of a rinse shampoo that only requires 1.5 litres of water, as opposed to the 8 liters that are required for a conventional shampoo. L’Oréal teams with tech start-up to develop low water use shampoo. To view video click here​​.

The showerhead plays a key role​​

For Gjosa part in the project, its team of developers have come up with a low-flow showerhead that emits 2 litres of water a minute, while accelerating the flow speed of droplets so that the flow is still as effective.

To marry up with the showerhead design, the development team at L’Oréal came up with an easier-to-rinse shampoo that can be applied directly through the showerhead.

To incorporate the shampoo, the water jet parameters were adjusted to obtain a more efficient rinse, reducing the water used and energy consumption by 70%.

Procter & Gamble outlines its zero waste goals

P&G has set itself some tough goals for its sustainability initiatives, but perhaps none is tougher than its ambition to have zeros waste to landfill.

The company showcased this initiative at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, held i in Paris, earlier this month, when  Jacques Euler, who is in charge of the company’s water and waste initiatives, spoke about achieving this goal.

P&G works on both manufacturing waste and finished products waste, and Euler’s presentation focused on the manufacturing side of the company’s efforts.

The company has a target of 100% zero manufacturing waste to landfill from its operations by 2020 – a goal it says is more meaningful and easy to understand than other types of sustainability goals such as carbon footprint reduction.

Big leaps but the end goal is getting tougher

The company has already achieved more than 80% reduction in its waste levels, ahead of its 2020 goal to completely eliminate this kind of waste.

According to Euler, the steps the company takes to work towards its waste target include waste mapping, reducing and eliminating waste, landfill diversion and life cycle analysis, together with auditing and tracking

But as the project moves forward, challenges can get tougher, with the company underlining that energy recovery, legal obligations for land-filling in some countries and tougher legislation for waste disposal all serving to make its ultimate goal tougher to get to.

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