Natura details challenges concerning its social and environmental objectives

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetics player natura Sustainability

In the second of a two part series, the director of sustainability at Brazil-based direct cosmetics player Natura, Denise Alves, goes into more detail about its commitment to social and environmental issues and the challenges this raises.

Alves believes that Natura’s approach to these areas goes beyond what is outlined by government regulation, and underlines the fact that this commitment has been born out of a stringent evaluation process.

As Alves explains, many companies have attempted to navigate this area without having a thorough enough approach, leading them into the numerous pitfalls that can leave companies being accused of shortfalls or greenwashing, which can negate much of the hard work they put in.

Going beyond the legal requirements

“It is true that many companies already include some form of social and environmental evaluation in their supplier selection process,”​ said Alves.

“Yet, those usually relate to satisfying minimum legal requirements, and when performance above and beyond the ‘no-go areas’ is considered, a high degree of subjectivity and a low weighting in the decision-making process relegates such topics to a marginal, low-impact role.”

The company decided it needed to come up with an objectives-led and pertinent evaluation process that could be easily understood and followed by suppliers, ultimately having a significant impact on Natura’s supplier selection process.

Alves explained that this was a significant challenge to undertake, as the criteria had to include monetary considerations, the impact of environmental initiatives such as the reduction of greenhouse emissions, and the inclusion of social programs such as hiring disabled staff.

Denise Alvis, director of sustainability at Natura

Triple Bottom Line

“Simple in concept, yet difficult to put into practice, this idea forms the base of the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ model, in which, for example, the benefit generated by investing in employees’ education offsets part of the ‘economic cost’ of a product, giving social and environment conscious companies an edge in supplier selection processes.”

The’ TBL’ initiative has been developed using a comprehensive monetary costing system focused on identifying the costs of the sustainability initiatives in relation to their benefits.

“This new TBL methodology positioned Natura at the forefront of the corporate sustainability efforts and serves as an example of a company that follows its convictions beyond generally accepted economic dimensions.”

A valuable beginning to a long journey

The company considers the initiative to be a ‘valuable beginning’  in what it predicts will be a long and drawn out process towards improving sustainability and ultimately helping to improve quality of living.

“By taking the first step, Natura expects to initiate a positive chain reaction, paving the way for other corporations to adopt and further develop the methodology, hence contributing to the mission of making the world a more sustainable place."

The first part of this interview was published on the Cosmetics Design website on April 19, while Denise Alves will be a featured speaker at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit​ , to be held in New York, May 17 – 19.

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