Sustainable beauty? ‘The time is now’ for an industry rethink, says expert

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Beyond packaging, beauty brands must 'embrace circularity' and look to alternative raw material sources for product development (Getty Images)
Beyond packaging, beauty brands must 'embrace circularity' and look to alternative raw material sources for product development (Getty Images)

Related tags: sustainable beauty, Sustainable Development Goals, plastic-free, refillable packaging, circular economy, Raw materials, ocean pollution, Food waste, Sustainability, Euromonitor international

Significant opportunities exist for sustainable beauty development, from plastic-free and refillable packaging to circular raw materials, and the rethink must happen now, says Euromonitor International’s senior sustainability consultant.

In its recently published White Paper, Euromonitor International outlined key strategies brands could follow in the pursuit of sustainability. It also identified the most important consumer trends set to shape the future of sustainability​: consumer activism, living with less and increased transparency demands. 

‘Huge opportunity’ for sustainable beauty

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe about what this all meant for the beauty industry, Maria Coronado Robles, author of the paper and senior sustainability consultant at Euromonitor International, said plenty.

Maria Coronado Robles, author of the paper and senior sustainability consultant at Euromonitor International
Maria Coronado Robles, author of the paper and senior sustainability consultant at Euromonitor International

“There is a huge opportunity for beauty brands to become more sustainable​,” Coronado Robles said.

“Think about the 152 billion units of packaging that the beauty and personal care industry put on the market in 2018. This packaging, as well as the unused product, contribute to ocean pollution. Public concerns about the consequences of plastic pollution is forcing brands to rethink their marketing strategy around packaging,” ​she said.

Some industry players had already responded, she said - L'Oréal, for example, launched its first paper-based bottle earlier this year and REN Skincare joined forces with TerraCycle’s LOOP platform to offer refillable packaging delivered directly to consumers.

Beyond packaging, Coronado Robles said beauty brands also needed “embrace circularity”.

“The potential for beauty products to incorporate circular raw materials such as food and agricultural waste (with many beneficial compounds for the skin) is enormous, if the right partnerships are in place,”​ she said.

And there were plenty of emerging start-ups in this field to turn to, she added. Danish start-up Kaffe Bueno was just one example, marketing recycled coffee oil for cosmetics applications.

Better for the planet, people and business

“The time is now for the beauty industry to rethink their whole approach to sustainability, and not only as an area of competitive advantage but as a future market requirement,”​ Coronado Robles said.

Unilever was proof sustainable beauty could be profitable, she said, with its Sustainable Living Brands delivering 75% of total company growth in 2018.

“Sustainability always means better; better for the planet, better for the people and better for the long-term success of businesses,”​ she said.

CosmeticsDesign-Europe previously heard from two UK beauty start-ups – Beauty Kitchen and BYBI – who said the future of sustainable beauty had to involve reversed vending, environmental impact assessment and blockchain technologies​.

Both companies noted industry still had a long way to go before truly sustainable products were on the mass market.

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