Launched on July 1, the Sustainable Beauty Coalition (SBC) had been formed by the British Beauty Council to accelerate collaborative green change across the UK’s beauty sector. Spearheaded by a steering committee of ten industry experts, including executives from Natrue, A Plastic Planet, Walgreens and Avon, the coalition also featured an advisory committee made up of an array of industry professionals from beauty brands, retailers, salons, services and associations. The coalition would soon establish its overarching framework aimed at guiding industry to collectively advance sustainability goals via a five-year and first year plan.
Operating under three focus pillars – transparency and accountability; standards and certification; and innovation and technology – the SBC would also be responsible for commissioning reports; undertaking consumer communication campaigns; coordinating fundraising commitments; and developing an Ambassadors programme to empower industry to actively participate in sustainable change.
“We’ve been blown away with the industry reaction to the launch of the Sustainable Beauty Coalition, which only reinforces its need and the important role it can play,” said Anna Teal, president of the SBC’s innovation pillar and founding patron of the British Beauty Council.
“Following the Courage to Change report, we always believed that collaboration across the sector was vital to share insight, knowledge, but most importantly unite thought leaders, businesses and associations to accelerate our efforts towards a more sustainable future,” Teal told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
‘Bold’ and ‘urgent’ sustainable beauty change needed
Jayn Sterland, chair of the Sustainable Beauty Coalition and MD at Weleda UK, said the UK’s beauty and wellness industry had to play its part in bringing about “bold” and “urgent” sustainable change.
“We have a strong voice, reputation, and reach and we need to use it. Consumers are keen to see this happen, and they are looking to us to clean up our act by addressing the many climate-related problems we have created, such as non-recyclable plastic packaging, chemicals contaminating the oceans, and unregulated, misleading product claims. Whilst a growing number of brands are taking significant steps to reduce their negative impact on the planet, these efforts are patchy and uncoordinated, the coalition seeks to address this,” Sterland said in an open letter to industry.
Adding to this, she said industry “had known for a while” that certain beauty products such as plastic microbeads and deodorant aerosols weren’t good for the environment but it had “yet to acknowledge” that the very nature of growing, making, consuming and disposing of beauty products meant industry was “actively contributing to the climate emergency”.
“Put simply, beauty must switch from being part of the problem to becoming part of the solution by eliminating all petrochemicals from our supply chain, switching to ethical and sustainable farming practices growing organically-grown ingredients, banning animal testing and moving to a business model that cares for our planet rather than seeing her as a resource to plunder,” Sterland said.
IPPC report shows climate change ‘widespread, rapid and intensifying’
All of this was particularly urgent in today’s context, she said.
“The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just been released and it makes for uncomfortable reading. Compiled over the past four years, it is the first major IPCC review to specifically focus on when the world might pass the 1.5°C and 2°C warming levels. If we are to limit temperature rise to only 1.5°C, we have to act now and swiftly.”
The IPCC’s August report said climate change was “widespread, rapid and intensifying”, with “immediate, rapid and large-scale” greenhouse gas reductions necessary.
In December 2020, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also published its Emissions Gap Report stating urgent post-pandemic action was needed to curb a global temperature rise in excess of 3°C by the end of this century. Its lead author, Anne Olhoff, said during a press conference that time was “running out” and future climate action now had to be “ambitious”.
Sterland said: “We know the beauty industry is part of the problem and we are coming together through the Sustainable Beauty Coalition to share ideas, best practice, collaborate and work creatively on carbon reduction solutions. We share one earth. The only way to make change happen is to switch from being part of the problem to becoming the solution, before it’s too late.”
Beauty brands, salons and sole traders to benefit from ‘collaborative approach’
Millie Kendall MBE, CEO of the British Beauty Council, said the SBC’s mission was to onboard as many companies and industry professionals as possible.
“I would love all beauty companies to join us, but equally salons and sole traders too. There are around 45,000 hair and beauty salons that could sign up to become members, as well as the multitude of SMEs here in the UK that could really benefit from this collaborative approach,” Kendall said.
Jo Chidley, founder of Beauty Kitchen and member of the SBC advisory committee, said amongst the plethora of reasons to join the coalition, two stood out: to be part of tackling the climate and waste crisis and give beauty consumers the change they wanted.
“The customers of the UK’s beauty industry are increasingly aware of the impact of our buying decisions on the planet; now is the time to take action and show them that we can make a collective positive impact,” Chidley said.
Those interested in signing up to the coalition can do so directly via the British Beauty Council's website.