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Published January 13, 2021
Published January 13, 2021

Credo launched with the vision to change the beauty industry and has been integral in defining the concept of clean, leading the way with education, collaboration, and transparency. As a way to operationalize their values, the San Francisco-based retailer established a Dirty List of restricted ingredients, which was expanded into Brand Guidelines in 2018. The manufacturing practices, ingredient disclosures, and labeling transparency has become the de facto industry standard for clean beauty.

“When we started Credo in 2015, we set out to change the beauty industry by leading the way, and by being transparent and candid,” co-founder and COO Annie Jackson says. “Sustainability is really a journey, not a destination. And it is a partnership because no one wins—not Credo or the brands, not the earth or the customer—if we don’t work together to change the story. It isn’t always easy and rarely is it cheap, but it is the right thing to do.”

Now the Credo team has its sights set on packaging. The beauty industry’s contribution to the current state of our environment is well documented and quite frankly embarrassing. An estimated 120 billion cosmetics packages are created annually, and the majority of beauty packaging is not reused or recycled in the US. We all participated in some way to the current state of affairs, and now it’s our job as an industry to fix it. Last May Credo implemented sustainable packaging guidelines for brand partners, offering brands a comprehensive playbook on safety, sourcing, sustainability, and more.

“We are at a tipping point. It is time that companies make real, actionable commitments that will drastically reduce this sector’s impact on the climate, wildlife, and communities,” says Credo’s Director of Environmental and Social Responsibility Mia Davis. “Sustainable Packaging Guidelines offer brands an approach—Smart Design, Sustainable Sourcing, and Optimized for End-of-Life—as well as clear goals and deadlines for better material choices.”

Through a holistic iterative approach grounded in collaboration, Credo is tackling sustainable packaging in a four-phased approach with the hopes of creating a domino effect in the industry.

Phase One: Elimination of single-use masks and wipes, expanding packaging take-back programs, and stopping the usage of PVC, PFAS, and BPA plastic materials by June 2021.

Phase Two: Focuses on better materials and requiring brands to replace virgin petrochemical plastic with 50% or more recycled plastic content, or use a more sustainable material, by June 2023.

Phases Three and Four: Will be ongoing and focused on smart design and the implementation of a circular system with a big emphasis on reusable packaging.

“A big part of the sustainable packaging guidelines is making sure that we’re speaking a common language—this is what we’ve been doing with clean,” Mia explained. “We’re proud of the definition, but we also hope others will adopt it, even competitors, because in order to make sure that there is consumer trust and that we’re moving the supply chain in the right direction, whether it’s on the ingredient level or packaging, we have to be speaking a common language.”

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to tackling the plastic packaging problem. Very often the answer to a sustainability-related question is: it depends. The focus of clean beauty 2.0 will evolve from the goop in the jar to a focus on packaging. Annie and Mia want to “link arms with our allies and our competitors to just say, “No more of this” and begin tackling beauty’s plastic packaging problem. Credo has established a set of guidelines and they are actively building a community of preferred packaging suppliers committed to helping brands meet Credo’s criteria. As an industry, we have the opportunity to join them and collectively move the conversation forward to effect real change.

Watch On Demand Credo’s Sustainability Journey – Next Stop Packaging: BeautyMatter founder Kelly Kovack in conversation with Annie Jackson and Mia Davis digging deep on the topic of sustainable packaging and Credo’s new guidelines. From the impact of material choices to smart design, sustainable sourcing, and optimized end-of-life packaging choices, they begin unraveling the sustainable packaging conundrum.


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