Evonik exec says 2015 will be the year of sustainability for the US cosmetics industry

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Paul Washlock, vice president of personal care, Evonik North America
Paul Washlock, vice president of personal care, Evonik North America

Related tags Cosmetics industry United states Cosmetics

a Sustainability is likely to be the defining element for the cosmetics industry in North America, according to Evonik’s North America personal care vice president, Paul Washlock, who believes that the industry is responding to the demands of a better informed consumers.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Cosmetics Design on the sidelines of last week' NYSCC annual meeting, Washlock explained his belief that all things green will be key for his business during the course of the New Year, and also highlighted how the US is playing catch up with other global regions, particularly Europe.

"Going into 2015 the industry in the United States is seeing the issue of sustainability continuing to grow. We are entering into new conversations on, for example, the Roundtable for sustainable palm oil. While consumers are asking questions about the natural characterization of the ingredients in their products,"​ said Washlock.

Price sensitivity and greater sustainability

One thing that has not changed however, is consumers price sensitivity, which says Washlock remains an integral part of the equation. But he points out that in addition to that, those same consumers are now demanding more, and increasingly more means products with a better environmental profile.

"​[Consumers]are becoming more educated and informed about the products, in much the same way we are seeing male consumers evolve in the men's grooming category. This has been gaining momentum year in and year out and is now a fruition of the constant discussions on sustainability of the United States is now catching up with efforts that we have seen in Europe."

Washlock believes that there are two principle areas that are driving this trend towards greater sustainability: the first being the continued globalization of the industry and the need to produce globally compliant products; with the second being pressure from the consumers themselves to see improvements in the environmental profile of the cosmetic products they buy. 

He went on to explain how the global regulation of the cosmetics industry will also be likely to shape the way the industry goes forward in 2015, noting that regulations in China and sustainability initiatives, particularly in Europe, are likely to give way to increasing demands for ingredients and formulations that fulfill these criteria and can then be marketed and sold in cosmetic products on a global basis.

Certification and consumer pressure have become key

"We are seeing press releases and communication from different companies every day, saying they are RSPO compliant in different countries. We are also seeing press releases on CGMP, or, in the case of Evonik,  ISO 22716 which is the cosmetic Good Manufacturing Practice within our plants,"​ Washlock added.

"Two or three years ago you would see an article here and there, but in the last three months we have seen a big ramp up about this kind of activity which is bound to result in greater awareness amongst formulators.

"Meanwhile consumers are driving this change too. They are talking to our customers, and our customers are passing on what the consumer is telling them to us, which is helping to shape the next generation of cosmetic formulations."

Raising the bar in the R&D lab

He went on to explain how ingredient research and development teams are having to work to newer and increasingly challenging requirements, which in turn is leading to a lot of tough questions about how to improve the environmental profile of the ingredients, while maintaining efficiency and efficacy.

"This is something the pharmaceutical industry did many years ago. And now it is filtering into the personal care industry, causing us to look at the profile of the formulations and ask what is it doing to the environment and do we still need it?"

"Some of those conversations have come about recently because of what has happened this year with the issue of microbeads. This has caused formulators to look at what they are doing and really consider the environmental impact, to see what makes sense and what does not."

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