Cosmetics brands focus on countering biodiversity loss

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

Lush shared more details on its Brazil nut harvest and explained how it is “carried out sustainably while respecting the ecosystem”
Lush shared more details on its Brazil nut harvest and explained how it is “carried out sustainably while respecting the ecosystem”

Related tags Sustainability Environment sustainable beauty circular beauty

YSL Beauty, Lush and Clarins are just three of the brands that have recently shone a spotlight on their efforts to preserve or replace biodiversity...

With increased awareness of biodiversity loss in an industry that’s highly dependent on Mother Nature’s resources, more cosmetics brands are introducing initiatives based around this. 

“Biodiversity is central to the beauty business,” shared director of policy and sector transformation at Dutch non-profit, Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT), Maria Julia Oliva.

“Look at the emerging concept of ‘double materiality’, which is the need for companies, investors and other stakeholders to look both at how companies impact, but also depend on, nature,” she continued.

“Cosmetics companies source many of their iconic ingredients from ‘biodiversity hotspots’. These flowers, seeds, roots, and other natural raw material come from unique plants in unique places.”

Oliva highlighted that often this is happening due to unsustainable harvesting, land-use change or pollution and that it’s a “priority for action.”

“The good news is that awareness of biodiversity is high in the sector, and many companies are leading the way with reducing negative impacts and promoting positive change. But much remains to be done…” she said.

YSL Beauty to “protect and restore 100,00 hectares of wilderness”

L’Oréal-owned YSL Beauty has recently announced two new rewilding programs in partnership with global NGO Re:wild.

The French beauty brand has already helped to rewild more than 47,000 hectares of land across the globe, as part of its long-term initiative to help nature return to its wild state.

The business also highlighted the issues caused by climate change and over-farming. “With almost 75% of all wild places having been degraded and more than one million species at the brink of extinction, more than 50% of the remaining wild will disappear in the next decades if immediate action is not taken,” said the brand.

Its ongoing Rewild Our Earth programme is aiming to protect and restore 100,00 hectares of wilderness by 2030 to “safeguard biodiversity” – a surface area almost 10 times the size of Paris.

Lush: “Safeguarding Peruvian forests”

Meanwhile, UK-based Lush has shared that it “has a dedicated team focussed on sourcing materials in ways that benefit people, animals and the planet.”

The natural cosmetics company explained that it purchases its Brazil nut oil from Candela Peru – an organisation that actively protects the Peruvian forest and its wildlife.

Lush also has its own sourcing hub there too. It conducts operations in two Peruvian forest concessions in Madre de Dios and Ucayali. Gaining the sourcing rights from here have enabled the brand to collaborate with the local communities to “safeguard the forests and their rich biodiversity,” according to Lush.

In the Madre de Dios concession, Brazil nuts are harvested in partnership with the Castañeros peoples who hand-harvest nuts from the forest floor and then move to the middle of the Amazon Forest during harvest time where they build camps and search vast areas of jungle for Brazil nuts. Lush said the harvest is “carried out sustainably while respecting the ecosystem.”

The nuts are then cold-processed locally in a solar-powered factory and turned into Lush’s vitamin-E rich Brazil nut oil used for use in products such as its Candy Rain conditioner and Ro’s Argan body conditioner.

The brand also highlighted that in the Ucayali concession: “a recent study found that the land supports nearly three times more primate life per area than outside the land boundaries, as well as some species that were only spotted there and not elsewhere.”

Clarins: “Innovative farming and a unique hydrological approach”

In terms of preventing biodiversity loss within their supply chains, some brands have taken matters into their own hands and have started to farm their own ingredients.  

Clarins recently purchased a 115-hectare green space in the south of France where it plans to cultivate many of the plants used in its product formulations using regenerative agriculture – with the aim of growing one-third of raw ingredients itself by 2030.

According to Clarins, the project will “regenerate and improve the ecological areas on the site”, which it said will “couple biodiversity with the highest quality production.” It also revealed that it plans to use “innovative farming practices and a unique hydrological approach.”

It is the second domaine that the company has purchased in France, which will help the business gain more traceability in its supply chain. In 2016, it had bought Le Domaine de Serraval in Haute-Savoie, which now annually supplies 2.5 tons of plants for Clarins’ laboratories and factories.

In January, Clarins was also part of a consortium of 15 different cosmetics companies that formed the TRASCE alliance​, to help enhance traceability in major ingredient and packaging supply chains across the global beauty and personal care industry.

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