Thursday, December 11, 2014Congresses

Cosmetics: how to be sustainable... sustainably

© L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques

You’d be hard pressed to find a congress that doesn’t address it at least once, or even devote an entire day to it: sustainability seems to be the new standard in cosmetics. But the concept can apply to a wide variety of different realities, and the industry sometimes appears to hesitate when it comes time to choosing the best approach. The Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, held by Organic Monitor in Paris from 24 to 26 November 2014, provided a chance to review the different options.

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It’s the major question up for debate in the cosmetics industry today: which actions should be undertaken to contribute to sustainable development?

ISO standard 14001, revised in 2015, provides an answer in its description of a set of requirements that help organizations to limit the impacts they have on the environment.
The new version of the standard addresses the entire life cycle of products and services, in particular by introducing requirements related to purchasing from and evaluating suppliers: users are no longer responsible for the production stage alone, but must be involved in upstream processes (raw materials, supply chain) as well as downstream processes (use, future of the product/service) whenever they can be influential.

The scope of action of sustainability

When we speak of sustainable development in cosmetics, we usually mention its three pillars: environment, society, economy.

Dr Michael Braungart, founder of EPEA International Umweltforschung GmbH (Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency), discussed in detail the ways the cosmetics industry can make a difference.

The idea is to reduce negative environmental impacts while simultaneously increasing positive impacts. Dr Braungart addressed the following, in no particular order:
• The environmental pillar: ethical sourcing of ingredients, production methods in accordance with green chemistry, …

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