According to Organic Monitor, although many companies are undertaking life-cycle analysis, varying methodologies, a lack of standardized data and general difficulties in analysing cosmetic formulations prevent accurate measurement.
Numerous speakers drove home this issue and discussed the methods of measuring the environmental impact of cosmetic products with industry professionals throughout the three day summit in New York.
According to Organic Monitor, heads of natural & organic cosmetic companies stated raw material availability, green washing and lack of legislation as major challenges for the industry.
Denise Alves of Natura Brasil says her company sources over 1,000 raw materials and it is not possible to examine the supply chains of all ingredients. With 76 percent of its products, environmental impact is from raw materials and final disposal.
By measuring and reducing its carbon footprint, Natura Brasil has become one of the few cosmetic companies to become carbon neutral. Its remaining carbon emissions are then offset by investing in reforestation projects.
In the ‘Sustainability Best Practices’ session, Avon revealed it is focusing on resource efficiency, ethical sourcing and green buildings.
While Royal Ahold USA - preoccupied with reducing waste to landfill, explained that its approach to sustainability is factoring in consumer knowledge, Procter & Gamble showed how it is switching to environmentally-friendly materials for its Pantene shampoos and Gillette outer packs.
In his presentation, Toby Heaps from Corporate Knights highlighted rising consumer expectations as having made sustainability reporting no longer the domain of publicly-listed corporations, but for all types of organizations. According to Heaps, “sustainability programs should be implemented from the CEO downwards in order to have real impact.”
Other papers by AAK and Evonik re-iterated the complexity of measuring the environmental footprint of cosmetic formulations while Mark Jacobs, president of JR Watkins highlighted the company’s strategy of multi-channel distribution to expand its consumer base.
Meanwhile the ‘Sustainable Packaging’ session explored the various options available to cosmetic companies looking at environmentally-friendly packaging.
In the opening presentation, Intertek stressed the magnitude of the packaging problem by stating it comprises a third of landfill waste. Proceeding talks covered the importance of eco-design in reducing packaging impact, innovations in recycled packaging, the potential of bio-plastics and novel packaging materials.
Organic Monitor is to host its first-ever Latin American edition of the SCS in September which is set to cover major sustainability issues concerning the Latin American cosmetics industry.