The beauty industry is continuously recognizing the importance of sustainability and efficacy in supply chain practices. The introduction of MoCRA and the tighter restriction of EU cosmetic regulations in 2023—not to mention varying regulations from state-to-state and nation-to-nation—left many seeking a single set of manufacturing standards and regulations that could be followed industry wide. The large number of touchpoints in any given supply chain also presents a challenge in visibility. "In light of this, it has become essential to better understand the sector's supply chains, mitigate the associated risks, and support their transition towards a more sustainable and resilient model," said the Traceability Alliance for Sustainable Cosmetics (TRASCE) in a recent statement.
TRASCE, spearheaded by Chanel, is a newly-founded consortium of 15 industry leaders—Albéa Group, Groupe Clarins, Cosfibel Group powered by GPA Global, Dior, the Estée Lauder Companies, L'Occitane en Provence, L'Oréal, Merck, Neyret, Nuxe, Groupe Pochet, Sensient, Shiseido and Sisley—looking to enhance supply chain mapping. The collective is sponsored by Fédération des Entreprises de la Beauté, the French federation of cosmetics industries.
"The essential and demanding work of mapping our supply chains carried out in recent years has allowed us to understand the main limits of the exercise," Julien Garry, International Director of Purchasing and Packaging Innovation at Chanel, said when announcing TRASCE. "It is sometimes quite difficult for a single client to convince distant tier suppliers to commit to this process when we do not exchange directly with them or when they do not meet the same regulatory requirements. Based on this observation, we proposed that the actors of the sector join forces to trace our supply chains as far and as quickly as possible."
Together, the consortium's founding members will begin mapping their supply chains entirely—from ingredients and components used (and their origins) to supplier names, operations, and transformation sites contained within Transparency-One, an ISN company digital platform. The mapping process will utilize blockchain—a decentralized, distributed, digital ledger consisting of records (blocks) that maintain transactions across many computers so any involved block cannot be altered retroactively without altering all subsequent blocks. This method will ensure that each company fully owns its data with guaranteed security and confidentiality.
In the long term, TRASCE aims to develop a collective approach for analyzing supply chain social and environmental risks, which will then be used to interpret a joint progress plan. "Through shared digital tools and close collaboration, we have an opportunity to move the needle in transparency and elevate how we source responsibly, with attention to potential impacts on people and the environment," added Meghan Ryan, Executive Director of Responsible Sourcing at the Estée Lauder Companies.
TRASCE's goal to improve the supply chain comes after consumer demands for transparency, with 86% stating they want more information disclosed about cosmetic ingredients. The collective follows from other initiatives that are working towards a transparent industry, including the EcoBeautyScore Consortium, a voluntary environmental impact assessment and scoring system created in 2021 by Henkel, L'Oréal, LVMH, Natura &Co, and Unilever.
The scoring system provides consumers with clear, transparent, and comparable environmental impact information based on a common science-based methodology. It was created through a group open to all cosmetics companies that wished to join—alongside sustainability consultancy Quantis—which ensured a robust and scientific approach in co-building a voluntary assessment methodology.
"It is possible for the cosmetics sector, as has happened in other sectors, to build a scientific environmental impact assessment of their products based on a full lifecycle assessment. It requires a cross-industry pooling of knowledge and expertise, particularly concerning the environmental impact data," Philippe Osset, an expert in the application of lifecycle assessment to eco-design, told BeautyMatter.
Beauty's active moves to improve the supply chain are paving the path for a more sustainable and coherent industry. The integration of blockchain technology within these practices is helping businesses understand themselves better, and therefore each other, strengthening the market while encouraging ethically conscious choices. With these tools in hand, the sector has what it needs to make a lasting difference, but it is up to companies to be forthcoming and transparent about their supply chain processes and to be willing to make the necessary changes.
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