Sustainable cosmetics and the elephant in the room


Barbara Olioso
MRSC, The Green Chemist Consultancy, United Kingdom


“Sustainability” is the new watchword for the Cosmetic industry, more so than “organic”, and it is forecast to become a major trend. But sustainability is a broad and eclectic topic – encompassing fair trade, water conservation, renewables, recyclables, human health, biodiversity and more.  What is most important? discover the elephant in the room nobody talks about.

Over the last year I have attended a number of Cosmetic industry shows, exhibitions and conferences. One theme that has been common to all has been that of “sustainability” and it was common to find raw materials suppliers talking about their efforts towards sustainability, full day workshops, with speakers from different sectors, brand owners, raw materials suppliers, formulators and consultants, and lengthy seminar talks.

It was interesting, walking around these shows, to see how often the word “sustainable” was mentioned, far more often than “organic”, and this shows how significant and indeed major this trend has become. This point is also reinforced by Euromonitor which has forecasted sustainability as one of the three major future trends in the industry (Cosmetics Europe Week, 2017).

The recent international ban of plastic beads confirms how much the consumers care for environmental impact of cosmetics and how the balance of power has changed over the years. Through the internet, consumers have access to incredible amount of information, good or bad, and can they can also put a lot of pressure on the industry. This is the first time I have seen ...