A recent study of beauty consumers has shown a demand for ethical change within the industry, with 48% of 23,000 respondents claiming they wish to know more about brands’ values and commitment to the environment. As multiple brands enforce promises to use 100% recyclable packaging by 2025, in line with the UK Plastics Pact, it was also found that 61% of consumers struggle to tell if beauty products are ethical from the current packaging. The study’s response was also backed up by the British Beauty Council’s research, which showed 42% of consumers feel guilty about the environmental impact of their beauty purchases, with almost half wanting to know the truth about their favorite brands' environmental impact.
To help navigate a way through this need, the British Beauty Council has launched a collective of sustainability experts from brands such as Lush, Marie Claire, and Weleda UK, named the Sustainable Beauty Coalition. The SBC “aims to accelerate the sustainability efforts in the beauty industry and work with government representatives to support the Race To Net Zero campaign.” This is being done through the Planet Positive Beauty Guide, and a marketing toolkit, which is available to download on the British Beauty Council’s website.
The Planet Positive Beauty Guide includes easy-to-understand information that will help inform consumers on how to avoid greenwashed products when making their purchases. The guide also includes a comprehensive list of claims made by several brands within the industry, explaining with straightforward descriptions what each means, helping consumers to understand the difference between ingredients that are beneficial to the environment, and those which simply sound as if they are. Official certifications and third-party verifications are also highlighted, helping consumers to know who they can truly trust.
"This phenomenon, called 'greenwashing' can be seen not only in the misleading use of claims such as 'natural' and/or 'organic' but also 'environmentally friendly,' 'clean' or 'green.' Greenwashing not only means shoppers are making what they think are 'green' choices which can actively harm the environment, it also drains credibility from honest brands that are genuinely sustainable and environmentally friendly," says Jayn Sterland, Chair of the Sustainable Beauty Coalition.
The Planet Positive Beauty Guide is divided into four chapters: Ingredients, Packaging, People, and Sustainable Sourcing. Across the chapters, the guide addresses issues from microplastics through to fair trade, focusing on all elements of sustainability. “Our aim is to raise awareness within our industry, with consumers and with UK governments, by creating an overarching Framework for Action. This Framework will build upon what already exists and will focus on climate, biodiversity, waste, and water. It will set ambitious targets for the industry to work towards in becoming more transparent and accountable to the consumer,” Jayn adds.
The SBC hopes to champion a green economy and green recovery through the development of a clear strategy, roadmap, and initiative which will accelerate the sustainability efforts of the industry. Operating under their three main focuses—transparency and accountability, standards and certification, and innovation and technology–the SBC will also be commissioning reports, coordinating fundraisers, and developing an ambassador’s program to encourage industry members to participate in sustainable change initiatives.
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