In Brands, Insight, Marketing

140 top cosmetic executives assembled in November 2017 at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit Europe to address eco-consciousness within the beauty industry. Informative discussions and panels about green product formulations and materials, sustainable sourcing and developments, and social impact transpired over the course of three days. Green values are the present and future goals of beauty companies due to the rise of a more conscious cosmetic consumer base demanding brand transparency; these next-gen consumers no longer appreciate ecocentric products, but expect them.

Planet health—and thus human health—are top priority, and the summit’s keynote speakers shared what their companies are doing to ensure sustainability is placed at the forefront of all beauty business practices. Luigi Bergamaschi—owner of L’Erbolario—kicked off the event. His company is a leading Italian natural cosmetics brand with a 40-year history of sustainability initiatives. Recently, they established an eco-friendly logistics hub, adopted green polyethylene packaging, and are also utilizing organic farming methods to grow plant materials.

Carletta Steiner-Heinz, owner and CEO of Heinz-Glas in Germany, was yet another businesswoman whose company has a history (and future) dedicated to green innovation. The family-owned company is the most sustainable glass producer in the industry and is investing in recycling and eco-efficient processes to reduce its carbon footprint by 30% in 2020. Cosmetic giant L’Oréal discussed the ongoing implementation of its eco-design approach. Their Biolage R.A.W. by Matrix hair care line is an example of the firm’s commitment to sharing beauty without compromising the health of the planet. Designed and developed in response to consumers’ growing expectations of Earth-conscious products, 95% of the ingredients in Biolage R.A.W. are more than 60% biodegraded in 28 days.

And while the takeaways from SCS Europe are many, a few key ones include:

  • The need for the industry to move toward a circular economy, whereby product and packaging waste is either recycled or upcycled. Emphasis on plastic innovation is pivotal in addressing landfill and marine pollution.
  • A push for cosmetic companies to add social value to their products (e.g., using certified fair-trade ingredients to help tackle global poverty). Businesses must be the mission—not just have a mission tacked on to them.
  • Transparency and traceability are and will continue to be major sustainability challenges. One way forward is radical transparency–companies should disclose what they know and do not know.

SCS Europe 2017 discussions were insightful and will continue into next year. We look forward to the avant-garde information these 2018 summits will elucidate:

Sustainable Cosmetics Summit North America 16-18 May, New York
Sustainable Cosmetics Summit Latin America 25-26 June, São Paulo
Sustainable Cosmetics Summit Europe 5-7 November, Paris
Sustainable Cosmetics Summit Asia-Pacific 12-13 November, Hong Kong

Photo: Matthew Henry via Unsplash