Beauty Store Business magazine - January, 2020

Sustainable Cosmetics Summit Addresses Industry Concerns

Chemicals in personal-care formulations, and resource and carbon management were among the industry concerns addressed during the Asia-Pacific and European editions of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, which took place Nov. 14-15 in Hong Kong and Oct. 24-26 in Paris, respectively.

Here are the highlights:

Environmental Impact:

  • Allard Marx, founder and chief executive officer of Aethic, called for greater scrutiny of sunscreen chemicals, which are said to be destroying coral reef in many parts of the world.
  • Andrew Thompson of Ronald Britton shared that at least 8 million tons of plastic leak into the ocean each year, disrupting marine eco-systems. His company has developed bio-based glitter as an alternative to conventional glitter.
  • J. Rettenmaier & Söhne made the case for its cellulose-based green exfoliants.

Anti-Pollution Skin Care:

  • Alain Khaiat of Seers Consulting shared details of natural ingredients with anti-pollution qualities.
  • Clarins said that it has examined the impact of major pollutants in outdoor and indoor environments to develop its range of anti-pollution skincare and cosmetic products.

Resource Efficiency:

  • Angela Buglass, chief executive officer of Trilogy, called for more companies to address their carbon footprints. The New Zealand-based natural skincare brand has been carbon neutral since 2007.
  • Amore Pacific, the largest cosmetics firm in South Korea, gave details on how it is reducing its carbon and water impacts. Apart from developing eco-friendly processes, it has set up the Osulloc Tea Garden (organic) on Jeju Island, which is absorbing 900 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Water stewardship is also important, with the company using 32,059 tons of rainwater in its facilities.
  • Steven Ko, founder and chief executive officer of O’Right, was present at the Hong Kong summit. As well as carbon neutral, the Taiwanese natural haircare brand is reducing its water footprint and has Cradle-To-Cradle certification. The company is using ground coffee as a raw material in its product formulations.
  • Hanna Hallin gave insights into the sustainability initiatives undertaken by H&M. Twenty percent of the raw materials used by the fashion retailer are now sustainably sourced. Conscious, the new organic collection, is part of the retailer’s strategy to make sustainable products affordable to all.
  • Davide Bollati, chairman of the Italian sustainable haircare company Davines, shared the company’s experiences. In 2017, Davines will open its sustainable village, which will produce natural ingredients and create zero waste, while being powered by green energy.
  • William Cook from Marks & Spencer shared that its Plan A gives a road map for its goal to become the most sustainable major retailer in the world. Two-thirds of its products now have a Plan A feature, including its Pure Natural beauty range, which is made from grape waste.


  • Professor Andrew Parker, founder and chief executive officer of Lifescaped, gave a keynote on the potential of biomimetics. According to Parker, there are concerns about losing nature’s technology, since every hour three species become extinct on Earth. He urged the cosmetics industry to harness nature’s potential to create innovative products.

Ethical Labels:

  • Daniel Jang from the Korean company Jejuorga gave details of the new Jeju Cosmetics label for sustainable cosmetics. An update was also given on the upcoming Marine Stewardship standard for sustainable seaweed and its application in personal-care products. Concerns were raised about the implications of the ethical labeling trend, such as: Will proliferation continue or will some multi-attribute standards evolve?

The following questions were raised as the summit closed:
- With most operators focusing on environmental footprints, should the cosmetics industry do more to address its social impacts?
- In light of the recent rise in populist politics, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, significant sections of the population appear to be disillusioned with the current state of global business. What can the cosmetics industry do to make a social difference?
- The industry has taken the lead in banning animal-testing methods and polyethylene beads in many parts of the world; however, can it now start creating positive social impacts?

The discussions are set to continue in the next edition of the executive summit, scheduled for May 4-5, 2017, in New York.

[Image courtesy of European Sustainable Cosmetics Summit]