From The Editor's Desk

Bridging the gap between ethical working practices and protecting the environment

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images
Getty Images
Increasingly, cosmetic and personal care consumers want transparency regarding the origins and manufacturing practices of the products they buy, something that can prove to be a tough call for many brands to answer.

Going beyond the mainstay trend for natural and organic formulations and environmentally friendly packaging, an increasingly discerning type of consumer is emerging that wants transparency concerning all aspects of the production process that goes into the products they buy.

They want to know about where and how the materials to make the products were sourced, and they also want to ensure that ethical practices were employed in all aspects of the supply chain the products might touch upon.

Consumers feeling overwhelmed

That includes insuring natural ingredients have been sourced in a way that it not detrimental to the environment, while concurrently ensuring that ethical working practices were employed, including paying farmers a living wage.

The big problem many brands face is how to provide consumers the reassurance they want without using up too much in the way of valuable resources.

Certification programs have proved to be an effective way to reassure consumers that best practices have been applied, with a plethora of bodies and associations working towards ensuring certification programs for natural and organic ingredients and formulations, as well as organizations that ensure fair trade practices.

But increasingly consumers are feeling overwhelmed by the shear number of certifications, some upholding different natural standards, some organic standards, some fair trade practices, and not to mention more specialized seals upholding vegan and cruelty-free practices.

Kind to the environment and workers

What if a consumer just wants to ensure that they are buying a natural-based product that has been produced in such a way that its kind to the environment and the people involved in producing it?

There are several certification providers that are focusing on making this quest easier for consumers, and only last week the Union of Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) announced its initiative to meet this need.

Currently certification programs around the world that aim to tie in these elements include the Wildcrafting Standards and the US Organic Standard incorporating Social Oversight, but the UEBT certification certainly seems to build on this aim.

UEBT certification meets the need?

According to the UEBT, its certification label underlines that brands signing up to the program have committed that they will ‘contribute to a world in which people and biodiversity thrive’.

First to adopt the UEBT standard are Brazilian natural cosmetics giant Natura and Weleda - two companies with considerable standing in the naturals category worldwide.

The label will be appearing on the companies' products in store shelves and through major retailers worldwide, serving to platform and promote the visibility of the certification. And with more companies of similar standing expected to sign up during the course of the next year the momentum is expected to build throughout the course of 2019.

The label aims to communicate to consumers that they will be contributing to practices whereby both people and biodiversity are encouraged to flourish - hitting on the two main criteria for the growing band of ethical consumers out there.

By allowing its definition of natural ingredients to include natural and animal-derived inputs that can be processed, the UEBT standard does not uphold some of the more rigid principles employed by other natural and organic certification, making a simpler route for players who want to promote transparency, ethical standards and best practices for the environment.

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