The use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to help design greener and more sustainable cosmetic products


*Corresponding author
thinkstep AG, Berlin, Germany


The demand of consumers for greener and more sustainable cosmetics calls for a robust and systematic, yet flexible, approach to sustainability. Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) is the main methodology to assess the environmental impact of cosmetic products.

In this article, the application of LCA to support the design of greener packaging solutions (including aspects such as the material selection and circularity), as well as cosmetic formulations, is presented, including practical examples. 

The results of LCA can be used to support the decision making on the eco-design of the products or systems, to support the supply chain management and to improve communication to internal and external stakeholders.


Sustainability is an important factor for the brand value of consumer goods and the buying decision of consumers. When addressing sustainability in cosmetics, the environmental, social and economic perspectives to consider from are manifold. Also, the definition of cosmetics covers a broad range of products with different functions, leading to a variety of formulations, forms and packaging. Furthermore, there is a need for constant innovation of the active ingredients used and of the consumer’s experience. The dynamics and complexity of this sector calls for robust and systematic, yet flexible, approaches to sustainability.

To define actions and priorities to approach sustainability, the first step is to establish a strategy, ensuring a cost and time efficient improvement of the processes. There are different tools available to support the sustainability strategies: on a corporate level, a materiality assessment helps to define the most important sustainability topics from both internal as well as external (value chain) perspectives; on a product level, a hot-spot analysis helps to identify the relevant sustainability aspects of single produ ...