How ethical is the cosmetics industry? A new barometer may tell...

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Personal care sector Cosmetics Sustainability

An initiative to determine the position of the industry and consumers on ethical matters will be launched at a conference in April.

The Union for Ethical Biotrade is establishing the 'barometer' at an event it will be holding in Munich the day after the In-Cosmetics trade show.

“We will be repeating the barometer every year to track where the personal care sector is moving vis a vis ethical biodiversity,”​ the Union’s executive director Rik Kutsch Lojenga told CosmeticsDesign.

A consumer survey aims to identify the levels of consumer awareness on biodiversity, how they relate it to the personal care sector and how they see the role of companies in protecting biodiversity, he explained.

Communicating ethical issues

In addition, how companies are communicating the issues of biodiversity and ingredients sourcing and how the press are reporting it, will also be tracked in the barometer, which will be published on the internet every year.

The barometer will be presented at ‘The Beauty of Sourcing with Respect’ conference, which is part of the Union’s pledge to target beauty companies and encourage them to share the benefits of their ingredients with the indigenous source communities.

Back in December the Union, which aims to promote the ethical trade of biodiversity-based products, announced it would work with the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) to encourage the industry to adhere to the benefit sharing principles of the convention.

CBD report highlights cosmetics players as offenders

A report from the CBD had highlighted fragrance and cosmetics companies as particularly bad offenders with one expert quoted saying “the fragrance and flavour companies actively search out innovative new ingredients in nature, in particularly the ingredient supply companies, and they don’t feel any need to sign agreements, pay royalties, or otherwise provide benefits. Most have never heard of the CBD.”

The conference on April 24 will see the launch of the barometer but will also aim to introduce the concept of benefit sharing and biodiversity to cosmetics and personal care companies.

The morning session will look at the sustainable sourcing of biodiversity from the point of view of companies working within the sector, before introducing the international view where it is seen as a strategy to promote economic growth in a sustainable way, explained Kutsch Lojenga.

Technical details about how access and benefit sharing can work will come in the afternoon session, he said.

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