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40th Interdisciplinary International Concept Conference of the SICC
11-13 June 2015, Milan, Italy

On the 11th, 12th and 13th of June SICC organizes what is deemed as the most important cosmetic event of the year, given the fact it occurs at the same time as the Expo International Fair in Milan. The interest shown towards this event has been growing a great deal, especially recently, and shows us its great potential. We wanted to turn it in an international and interdisciplinary event this year, ensuring broad and qualified visibility to those who have the chance to attend it. This “conceptual” conference will provide the latest news on innovation strategies and processes for cosmetic and food chains, keeping in mind sustainability goals, in line with the Brundtland report and the “Feeding the Planet” guidelines for Expo 2015 in Milan. More than 50 speakers from all over the world will lecture on topics related to cosmetics, food and a variety of disciplines: ingredient innovation, simplification of formulations and compositions, packaging, production processes and sustainable Supply Chains, effective communication, sustainable Quality Management and controls. Some of the most important multinational companies have already accepted to provide scientific contributions to the event, whereas many non-profit associations and universities involved in the cosmetic sector have granted their patronage. The event has been organized in a modular manner over three days. The first two days will have the structure of a scientific congress, whereas the third day will be held at the Civil Society pavilion (Cascina Triulza) within the Expo area, and visitors attending will be able to go on a sensorial learning tour, a feature of the “Making sense: sustainable health and well-being” project. This modularity will help to raise interest in both sector professionals (cosmetic and food technologists and researchers) and the public attending Expo, which will follow the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas “There is nothing in the intellect that did not walk for the senses”.
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A word with Elio Mignini, General Manager of SICC

SICC, the Italian Society of Cosmetic Chemists was founded in Milan in 1958 and will hold its 40th Congress in June 2015. This looks like a long history of success and accomplishments. Is that right?
The 40th Congress was supposed to have a national scope only. However, the Congress will be held while Expo 2015 Milano will be underway, so we’ve decided to make it an international and interdisciplinary event. Once over, we’re confident that visitors to the event will recall it as very successful, like the international IFSCC congresses we’ve had the pleasure to host here in Italy – twice in Venice, then Florence, now in Milan and back to Italy again in 2019!

Ingredient innovation, simpler formulations, sustainable supply chains, correct communication, better approach to sustainable quality are the main topics of the congress. Instead, what are the hot topics in the industry today?
This event will focus on “Simplification”. Amongst the many topics that will be debated, I reckon that the 5th session on Sustainable Quality will be the event feature providing a helpful guide on how to introduce simplification in process management and thus also effectively pursue sustainability. It is about paving the way for a transition from a phase where analysis and specialization were the dominant industry processes to a phase where synthesis and a holistic view of processes will determine strategic choice-making instead.

This year the SICC Congress will be held in the same period of EXPO 2015 Milano. One of the Congress days will actually take place at the EXPO, isn’t that so?
We wanted the event to be modular, to involve raw materials specialists and cosmetic and food experts, who will be more interested in the first two congress days held in Assolombarda, as well as finished product manufacturers, who are more interested in the “Business to Consumer” relationship and will have the opportunity to show the public and opinion leaders how they support sustainability at the Civil Society pavilion (Cascina Triulza) within Expo 2015.

Food, energy, planet, life are the keywords defining the EXPO 2015 Milan. How does the international exhibition relate to cosmetics? Do you see Expo as an issue or an opportunity?
The strongest link between our international congress and Expo themes is the innovation in ingredient development brought forward by companies and researchers. The most important research work for recycling agri-food production leftovers for use in cosmetic manufacturing will be presented. This is an attempt to re-qualify by-products by suggesting innovative processes for the reduction of food leftovers and waste.

So, what connections will your 40th Congress have with EXPO key topics?
The connections with Expo are subtle but most important. It’s about simplification processes, a topic that will be broadly discussed at our congress. The objective is to develop clever simplification processes as tools to save both intellectual and material planet resources.

About Elio Mignini, General Manager of SICC
Graduated in Chemistry at the University of Milan. Most of the career spent in one of the most important multinational cosmetic companies covering different management roles. An expert in R&D, TQM, ISO Certification and EFQM management systhems. Former president of IFSCC and of SICC, currently is the SICC General Manager. Holds teaching posts on “Integrated Quality” at the Cosmetology Master courses of the Universities of Pavia, Ferrara, Camerino and Siena. Elio Mignini is an author of a number of papers and presentations on Cosmetic Science and the co-coordinator of the book “Manuale del Cosmetologo”.

A word on biodiversity and the Nagoya Protocol. How does this new instrument influence the sector?
The protection of biodiversity under the Nagoya Protocol is another important topic dealt with at the congress and presented by speakers from all over the world. Protection of biodiversity is closely connected to smart simplification, for instance to avoid what happened with Palm Tree Oil, whose large-scale exploitation due to certain economic choices - and “selfishly applied sustainability policies”- has caused what everybody knows has occurred to Indonesian forests.

Let’s look at regulatory frameworks in general. What do you reckon should be preferred: voluntary conduct codes or national/international regulations everyone needs to comply with?
I am personally against “over-regulation” because I reckon that product and process quality and sustainability is better achieved through prevention rather than strict control. I would prefer guidelines and recommendations for good behaviour and practice one can adopt on a voluntary basis.
On the other hand, national and international government bodies should acknowledge and reward companies who decide to implement good practice processes that yield quality and clever sustainability.

Today, cosmetics and personal care are increasingly science-driven disciplines, with benefits going far beyond the simple aspect of showering or enhancing our looks and well-being. What are your thoughts on this?
Cosmetic science is very much focusing on perfecting consolidated technologies to comply to the increasingly stricter regulatory and environment-protection requirements. Innovation, in these terms, is applied increasingly yet gradually, rather than abruptly, also because radical initiatives would be hampered by restrictive regulations on animal testing, which are in contradiction with the compulsory REACH requirements. Fortunately, one of the strongest drivers in cosmetics today is sensorial pleasantness of products. The third congress day at the Expo, a feature that is part of the broader “Making Sense” project, offering visitors the chance to go on a sensorial learning tour, will enhance perception of product pleasantness upon application, following the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, who once stated that: “Everything begins in the senses, and is then completed in the intellect”.

Turning to important, everyday aspects like hygiene, oral care or sun care, is personal care an important driver for prevention?
This is a concept we want to get across to people at the congress. Far too often, the common belief is that cosmetics are about beauty, with no ethical meaning to it. Instead, the adoption of proper personal care habits by an increasingly larger population is an essential driver to strive to prevent diseases, with the benefit of being able to save on healthcare costs and direct these resources towards other population needs, such as food availability.

Personal care and cosmetics are deemed as lively sectors that can drive employment and economy? Is it really so?
In Italy, cosmetics and personal care haven’t suffered the recession too much. Even though, it must be said that Italian personal care does not invest enough in research and development, apart from the traditional cosmetic segments where Italy is stronger: make-up and outsourced production. The latter, in particular, can help a lot to increase investments in Italian research and development by embracing new technologies and innovation.

The EXPO 2015 in Milan will show the challenges we face today to better our future. What do you reckon are the challenges that cosmetics and personal care will be facing in the foreseeable future?
SICC’s vision as regards cosmetology development in the future is clearly expressed in our statutory documents. The following points are a brief summary of such vision:

  • High-quality cosmetics will have increasing importance in improving a person’s well-being.
  • Quality parameters for cosmetics are grouped in separate areas according to the different levels of importance in terms of consumer perception and tangibility of product quality
  • The intrinsic quantitative variables of cosmetic products can be well described through four areas: safety, effectiveness, pleasantness, and reliability.
  • Optimization of the four “value” areas (for end users) and of the indicators and evaluation and support methods will be key for the development of cosmetic science.