The Sustainable Cosmetics Summit – North America
The Sustainable Cosmetics Summit (North America, 2012) took place in New York City during 17-19 May. The Summit was an assembly of key players discussing several topics relevant to the “green” cosmetics and personal care markets. The Summit was organized around the topics of sustainable packaging and green formulations. In attendance were over 180 representatives from organic, natural and conventional cosmetics companies together with supplier, service & support companies. Central to the discussions was metrics regarding environmental impacts of products and compliance with certifying organizations. Several presenters focused on product life cycle analysis (LCA). Providers of LCA services and users of LCA alike highlighted the frustration with determining accurate LCAs because data is often unavailable, for example, supplier data. Another point raised by several presenters was that there is not a unified definition of “sustainable.” In the executive roundtable on sustainability challenges, representatives from Aubrey Organics, Dr. Hauschka Skin Care, Eminence Organics, Jasmin Skincare, JR Watkins, and Weleda North America agreed on the need for communicating the total information about an organization’s green operations and the need for LCA harmonization. This is particularly important if the results are intended as customer information because there are already multiplicities of eco, natural and organic labels for cosmetics and personal care products that can leave customers confused. During his presentation on “Green Chemistry and Novel Processing Techniques,” Peter Becker (Global Manager Personal Care at Evonik) agreed with the panel members that LCA is critical and sometimes difficult. His suggestion was “to take small steps where you can.”Regarding products, the certifications are voluntary or self-regulated and a driver for many organizations is the desire to avoid bad press. One difficulty with certifications is that the standard could originate with another market application. An example is the USDA NOP certification which is a farm and food standard not a personal care standard. Filipe Sabara (Business Development Manager at Beraca) suggested that every change that lasts comes from within a corporation. To support this philosophy, Sabara spoke of an internal green and sustainable campaign that was launched at Beraca. Later Amarjit Sahota (President at Organic Monitor) spoke about challenges in the global natural and organic personal care market. He commented that despite the lack of standards among the various certifying bodies, certification serves the purpose of legitimizing natural, organic and specific compound-free claims. The resulting label on the package is the initial point of differentiation for consumers seeking more eco-friendly options for their cosmetics and personal care products. The clear message from the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit was that the practice of using sustainable packaging and green formulations is supported by the ever-increasing consumer demand for these types of products. This demand positively affects not only concerns about the environment, but also the bottom-line of the companies serving this market.