Sneak peek: a Q&A with upcoming Sustainable Cosmetic Summit speakers

By Cassandra Stern

- Last updated on GMT

From planned sessions regarding green ingredient innovations to topical discussions by representatives from Kenvue, Colgate-Palmolive, and more, this year’s Sustainable Cosmetics Summit is shaping up to be an exciting event in the sustainability space of personal beauty care. © Cecilie_Arcurs Getty Images
From planned sessions regarding green ingredient innovations to topical discussions by representatives from Kenvue, Colgate-Palmolive, and more, this year’s Sustainable Cosmetics Summit is shaping up to be an exciting event in the sustainability space of personal beauty care. © Cecilie_Arcurs Getty Images

Related tags sustainable beauty green beauty circular beauty

In advance of this year’s Sustainable Cosmetic Summit in NYC, we sat down to chat with a few of the event’s scheduled speakers to learn more about their backgrounds, research, and their goals for their presentations.

This year’s North American edition of the Ecovia Intelligence Sustainable Cosmetics Summit is scheduled to take place this year in New York City. The Summit, which has been running since 2009, is focused on encouraging sustainability throughout the beauty industry by bringing together key stake holders including packaging companies, industry organizations, and certification agencies to debate major industry issues in a high-level forum, as explained in the event’s brochure.

Planned sessions include a sustainability update, green ingredients, marketing developments, and customer impacts, as well as a scheduled workshop on sustainability metrics. Speakers include representatives from Colgate-Palmolive, Kenvue, Coty, dsm-firmenich, Spate, and Credo Beauty.

To learn more about this year’s event, CosmeticsDesign interviewed Randi-Kronthal Sacco, Director at GlobeScan, Ignacio Garcia, CEO and Co-Founder of Tree Intelligence, and Dirk-Jan Oudshoorn, Founder and CEO of Forestwise for their insights.

CDU: Can you share some brief background regarding your professional experience, your company, and your relationship with the cosmetics and personal care product industries?

Randi-Kronthal Sacco (RKS)​: I am a senior scholar at NYU Stern Center of Sustainable Business.  My research focuses on the intersection between brands sustainability. 

I am a member of the board of Globescan, a global insights and research consultancy working in sustainability.  Prior to NYU Stern, I was the CMO of Rodon and Fields, a Silicon Valley skincare company and spent almost 20 years as a senior executive at Johnson & Johnson running the global Johnson’s baby and adult skincare businesses.

Dirk-Jan Oudshoorn (DJO)​: I am a graduate of Delft University of Technology in Strategic Product Design. I moved to Indonesia in 2013 with my wife to work for a local NGO on orangutan conservation and community development projects, before co-founding Forestwise in 2018.  

Forestwise has sustainability at the heart of its values. Preventing deforestation in Indonesian Borneo is the primary mission which is achieved through adding 'Rainforest Value' to wild harvested rainforest ingredients and empowering indigenous communities.

The current product range includes Illipe Butter, Kukui Nut Oil, Buah Merah Oil, Arenga Rainforest Sugar, and various coconut products. Most of the products are Organic and Halal certified, and several products are Fair for Life certified as well. Forestwise has been a member of the Union for Ethical Biotrade since 2020.  

Our products are used in a wide range of personal care products all over the world. Of course, the personal care industry is a huge industry with a huge environmental footprint, so we are happy to be working on solutions together with the industry to rescue the environmental footprint as much as possible.   

Ignacio García (IG)​: I am an Argentinian anthropologist with a global footprint, straddling Brazil, Argentina, and the United States. My professional journey spans over 15 years of consultancy across the cosmetics, food, health, and sustainability sectors.

Leading a global team, we harness the power of artificial intelligence, network science, and netnography to forge innovative methodologies and technologies for the understanding of influence networks and narratives around diverse issues. Our mission is to provide organizations with deep insights into the evolving behavioral dynamics that shape these industries. I've had the honor of contributing to global organizations such as the WHO, Natura & Co., Givaudan, Nestlé, and Roche, focusing on consumer safety, R&D, and marketing communications. 

As the co-founder and CEO of Tree Intelligence, an international company with presence in the US, Brazil, and Argentina, we specialize in social intelligence. My role involves steering a diverse and international team in the systematic monitoring and analysis of digital behaviors across more than 45 countries, leveraging our proprietary technology. 

CDU: What is your presentation topic for the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit NYC? 

RKS​: Annually I deliver actual consumption data of sustainable products in CPG leveraging Circana data (formerly IRI); many of the categories I research are personal care products. I also recently partnered with Edelman to identify which environmental sustainability messages drive purchase.  

DJO​: My presentation is focused on stopping deforestation by commercializing traceable, wild harvested rainforest ingredients in collaboration with the local communities.   

IG​: I will present an updated version of the Risk Perception Index (RPI) for the cosmetics industry, enriched with the latest learnings, trends, and insights. This pioneering methodology, which I developed in 2015 and have since refined with a team of experts, aims to measure, and interpret the risk perceptions associated with over 1,000 cosmetic ingredients worldwide.

By monitoring a dynamic network of influencers, including scholars, activists, NGOs, specialized websites, and cosmetics brands, the RPI assesses: the spread of opinions regarding specific ingredients, the active campaigns impacting ingredients, brands, and technologies, and the semantic content within narratives permeating this influential network. 

In a networked era where digital noise can amplify risk perception, this approach has proven powerful for companies like Natura, Avon, and The Body Shop, guiding them towards informed decisions by balancing perception with technical risk assessments. 

CDU: What are your key takeaway points for your presentation? 

RKS​: Sustainability is differentially driving growth in CPG and in the categories where the market leaders have adopted and communicated sustainability e.g. personal care, sustainability has become table stakes to compete. 

Regarding communications to drive purchase, claims must be on-pack, and adding a sustainability claim to one’s core category message in advertising, operates as an amplifier, bringing in far more users than a category claim alone.  Also, that the right sustainability message is universally appealing across ALL cohorts.

DJO​: We want to show our approach on how we can work together with the communities to not only keep the rainforest standing, but also creating better livelihoods for the communities that live near these forests and involving them to produce high quality ingredients  for the personal care industry. 

Our products are fully traceable and can replace ingredients that are under the new EUDR, providing a great solution to meet EUDR compliance, while also championing responsible sourcing and environmental preservation.

IG​: My presentation will emphasize three components: one, the importance of balancing technical risk assessment with risk perception and contextualization of narratives and influences in order to inform ingredient substitutions, R&D, and communication strategies; two, an analysis of how risk perception has evolved recently and the factors driving this change; and three, the main learnings from this journey, highlighting emerging trends and insights for advancing towards a more sustainable cosmetic industry. 

CDU: What is your goal for your presentation, and how do you hope your presentation will impact industry members in the sustainability space? 

RKS​: That industry members recognize that sustainable business is good business and that players that don’t adopt sustainable benefits will ultimately be obsolete, as consumers are voting with their pocketbooks.

DJO​: We hope to inspire companies to take as much action as they can to improve the environmental and social impact of their supply chains and show that there are solutions out there to make a positive change, without compromising on quality or efficacy.  

IG​: My aim is to share comprehensive updates and lessons derived from the evolution of the RPI, tailored specifically to the regional market's needs. By doing so, I aspire to contribute to the awareness of a data-driven orientation of a critical factor in the shaping of any industry: the risk perception.  

CDU:Have you presented on this topic before? If so, how was your presentation received, and what new information have you addressed in your upcoming presentation?​ 

RKS​: Yes, and the previous presentation was excellently received. The partnership with Edelman is just beginning to being socialized, and I will report on the latest 2023 trends that has not been discussed outside an NYU forum. 

DJO​: Yes, we have presented about this topic at the SCS in Paris in 2022. We got a lot of positive feedback from the audience and several new partnerships have been ignited by the connections made at that event. 

What we have added is the measurable impact we are making in the communities where we work, we want to show the traceability through our newly introduced app this year and also provide information on how our ingredients are providing a solution to companies to be EUDR compliant be switching to our supply chains. 

IG​: Yes, I've had the privilege of discussing the progress of the Risk Perception Index at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Brazil during 2015, 2018, and 2023. These experiences have allowed me to witness firsthand the industry's transformation, from initial skepticism of the potential impact of what I call the Digital Practice Communities - such as vegans advocates - to a general acceptance and progressive alignment with most of their values.

This journey has been significantly influenced by specific campaigns originating from the United States more than a decade ago. From my perspective, some of these iconic campaigns, targeting specific ingredients and brands, were game changers, significantly accelerating the industry's evolution. 

My upcoming presentation will spotlight the latest results from ongoing RPI monitoring, along with fresh trends and insights for the industry's sustainable future.  

To learn more about these topics and others in the sustainable cosmetics space, consider registering​ for the US edition of Ecovia Intelligence’s Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in New York City on June 4-6, 2024.                                                                                               

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