‘Collective action’: Cosmetics Europe unveils industry eco initiative Commit for Our Planet

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The European-wide industry initiative is focused on three key areas - climate, nature and packaging - with a series of goals, guidelines and tools available to companies throughout the value chain [Getty Images]
The European-wide industry initiative is focused on three key areas - climate, nature and packaging - with a series of goals, guidelines and tools available to companies throughout the value chain [Getty Images]

Related tags Cosmetics europe climate crisis Greenhouse gas emissions Carbon footprint Biodiversity Sustainable packaging sustainable beauty Collaboration Environment

European industry association Cosmetics Europe has launched a sustainability initiative to spearhead collaborative eco efforts and action across beauty and personal care, aiming to reduce overall carbon footprints, support biodiversity and improve packaging.

Launched today, Commit for Our Planet​ had been created by Cosmetics Europe with 27 founding industry partners*​, including Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive and L’Oréal, and five supporting trade association partners**​. Under a structured framework, the eco initiative featured specific commitments across three themes – climate, packaging and nature – designed to help drive progress across the full beauty and personal care value chain in Europe. These three areas, according to Cosmetics Europe, were “central” ​to industry operations and related impacts and hence the focus.

Amongst the commitments made were slashing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, sourcing sustainable wood-based packaging alternatives, and avoiding water issues during manufacturing and sourcing. Importantly, Cosmetics Europe said every commitment would be continually revised and reinforced as societal demands and planetary needs evolved, and to ensure the goals continued to align with EU standards.

*​Full list of the founding companies to date: AVA Cosmetic Laboratory, Babaria, Beiersdorf, Börlind, Bruno Vassari, Colgate-Palmolive, Cosnova, Coty, Dalli Group, Floslek, Gardiner Family Apothecary (Elave), Global Cosmed, Henkel, Keune, La Biosthétique, L’Occitane, L’Oréal, LVMH, MartiDerm, NAOS, Natura Bissé, Salerm Cosmetics, Schwan Cosmetics, SystemKosmetik, Unilever, WALA, and Weleda.

**​Full list of supporting partners to date: Dutch Cosmetics Association (NCV), German Cosmetic, Toiletry, Perfumery and Detergent Association (IKW), Polish Union of Cosmetics Industry (Kosmetyczni), Romanian Union of Cosmetics and Detergent Manufacturers (RUCODEM), and Spanish Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (STANPA).

‘An opportunity for everyone’

John Chave, director-general at Cosmetics Europe, said the initiative aimed to “further raise the bar for sustainability”​ by encouraging more collective action to amplify existing and ongoing efforts by individual companies across industry.

“We developed the initiative to be inclusive of the whole industry, with commitments that can be tailored to all company size and types, regardless of Cosmetics Europe membership or where they stand in their sustainability journeys. This is to ensure that there is an opportunity for everyone to help meet societal and planetary needs,”​ Chave said.

Under Commit for Our Planet​, Cosmetics Europe would provide various tools and guidelines, he said, to support companies in delivering on the outlined sustainability commitments and it also planned to publish annual reports on actions and achievements to demonstrate industry progress.

Climate, packaging and nature

Speaking today at the online unveiling event for Commit for Our Planet ​on LinkedIn, Emma Trogen, head of the legal department at Cosmetics Europe, said the three themes each had important focuses and goals.

The climate theme, for example, aimed to measure and track all company-specific and industry-wide carbon footprints across the entire value chain; the nature theme was designed to protect ecosystems based on scientific targets; and the packaging theme aimed to foster improved and sustainable options for industry, Trogen said.

Providing deeper insight on the commitments under each theme, she said for climate the initiative would push companies to measure and track corporate carbon footprints, giving guidance on how to reduce total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at company level and across upstream and downstream activities. Importantly, progress and impact would be tracked over time and suppliers widely engaged, she said.

For nature, she said the aim was to drive the protection of biodiversity during manufacturing processes, ingredients sourcing and downstream operations. As a starting point, Cosmetics Europe had opted to focus on water-related issues and deforestation – “two key drivers of biodiversity loss”, ​she said, but eventually planned to expand this to other areas, such as endangered species and ocean protection.

To support industry around nature-positive operations, Cosmetics Europe had prepared guidance based on the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) and established a database highlighting the exposure to nature-related risks for the top most-used cosmetic ingredients.

Under the packaging theme, Trogen said the initiative had been designed to align with the many pre-existing initiatives and EU ambitions, helping to foster improved sustainable packaging innovation and development. The focus of Commit for Our Planet​ would be on increasing recycled content, promoting recycling and sustainably sourcing wood-based packaging, she said. 

Accessibility for all – a tiered approach

“These commitments have been developed in various levels and companies can choose to start working on a small number of commitments or all of the commitments, if they want to,” ​Trogen said.

“And then they can choose to progress either vertically or horizontally through the commitments.”

This tiered approach was an important aspect to making the initiative more inclusive and feasible for beauty and personal care companies of all structures and sizes, she said.

Chave added that the “longer-term ambition”​ for the eco initiative was to empower “value chain cooperation” ​and expand and evolve “collective action”​ across Europe’s beauty and personal care sector. 

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