Cosmetics industry faces sustainability

We always talk about sustainability in the retail sector dealing with products such as food and apparel, but what about cosmetics? There has been increased interest from the cosmetics industry toward sustainability, the reason why a  Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, is going to be held in New York from May 12 – 14.

In the cosmetics business too, sustainability has become very important to help companies to steer their way out of the recession and tap into the big opportunities that are likely to arise over the next five years.

As stated by Irina Barbalova, head of beauty and personal care for Euromonitor, the four key trends in the cosmetic industry include focusing on the ever-growing emerging markets, new media in western markets, offering better value for money to consumers who continue to be hard hit by the economic downturn in western markets and communicating sustainability through brands.

As stated by Aveda‘s VP, Chuck Bennet “The environmental footprint of a cosmetic, or any product, must account for the full ‘life cycle’ of the product. This includes many factors such as energy and water consumption, emissions to the environment. It can significantly misrepresent the actual footprint of a product if the focus is limited to, for example, manufacturing only.”

According to market researcher Accenture, co-operation with packaging suppliers in efforts to reduce the overall carbon footprint of products. Pressure to reduce environmental impact, and to reduce costs generally, is forcing companies to take sustainable packaging seriously. A supply chain view of packaging provides the breadth of vision required to develop optimal solutions: for example, the recycling of some packaging materials and the switch to reusable packaging. To address sustainability, Accenture recommends companies scan their supply chains to determine the true value proposition of different strategies to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

The research firm estimates that companies can save 3 to 5 percent in supply chain costs by adopting green packaging initiatives, in addition to the revenue uplift from green consumers.

In the US, L’Oreal for example made inroads to reduce the environmental impact of its beauty product packaging by introducing two new assessment tools to its package design process, while Unilever has looked to reduce the amount of waste used in the packaging of a product, yet maintain protection. Unilever has minimised the packaging on its stick deodorants as well as making them more lightweight, to reduce the impact of transporting the goods.

In France, Clarins has built an alternative model, such as agreeing long term Fairtrade contracts with producers of katafray in Madagascar, offering 5% of the sales price from relevant brands to help local communities. “I believe consumers today are more knowledgeable than before, thanks to the media, so they can see through companies that greenwash,” said Yvette James, head of Clarins‘ responsible development division. (Source: CosmeticDesign.com, warc.com. Picture credits: Americanspamag)

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