Move from linear to circular design models

A number of speakers called for a sea change in design thinking of cosmetic products. According to them, cosmetic and personal care products should be created so that packaging materials can be re-used or upcycled at the end of their lives.

Eric Kawabata from TerraCycle said the issue is that most fast-moving consumer goods were designed for single-use, with packaging ending in landfill or incineration. His company aims to eliminate the idea of waste by collecting waste materials and using it to create new products. His organization has already partnered with cosmetic companies such as Garnier, Colgate-Palmolive, and P&G.

Growing array of natural ingredients

According to Alain Khaiat from Seers Consulting, a range of functional ingredients are now available for natural skin care products; they include humectants, rheology modifiers, emulsifiers, surfactants and emollients. However, according to Barbara Olioso of The Green Chemist Consultancy, the use of such natural ingredients brings formulation issues like stability and performance.

Classification of natural and organic ingredients remains a thorny issue. Because of this, DSM has compared popular certification schemes and the ISO 16128 guidelines to come up with three simplified categories: certified organic, verified natural, and natural origin.

Sustainable sourcing

Greater questions are being asked about the origins, extraction and processing methods of cosmetic raw materials. There is already pressure for agricultural-based materials like palm oil to be sustainably sourced.

Case studies were given on how improve the sustainability of supply chains:

 Kurt L Nübling, CEO and Founder of PrimaveraLife, gave details of its ethical sourcing projects for organic essential oils.
 Temuulen Murun from Shiseido raised the issue about the mineral mica: 75% of global supply comes from north-east India where there are concerns about health risks and child labour. Although just 18% of mica goes to the cosmetics industry, about 20 companies have signed up to the Responsible Mica Initiative.

 Traceability and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Matthias Lergenmüller from Merck showed how supply chains of cosmetic ingredients can be linked to the SDGs. According to Matthias, traceability can help companies minimise environmental, social and health risks in their supply chains.

Plethora of ethical labels

Sustainability schemes and ethical standards continue to gain popularity, with a growing number of products brandishing symbols and logos. Amarjit Sahota, Founder and President of Ecovia Intelligence, said the cosmetics industry is going the same way as the food industry where there are over 200 different ethical labelling schemes.

As far as the Halal label is concerned, Fabrice Guillemard from DSM believes most prospects are in Asia, considering the region houses 1.5 billion Muslims. Indeed, three-quarters of Halal cosmetic launches last year were in the Asia-Pacific. Indonesia and India are adjudged to have most potential.

Product innovations

Steven Ko, Founder and President of the Taiwanese brand Hair O’ Right showed how the company is formulating products using food side stream ingredients, such as coffee husks and goji berry roots.

Matthieu Erre gave insights into how Yves Rocher is integrating sustainability and innovation. The brand has introduced concentrated shower gels, concentrated shampoos, and eco-designed cosmetics. While, Slovenian company Hemptouch gave details on the therapeutic qualities of its cannabis-based skin care products.

Resource efficiency to zero-waste

Most personal care companies have put resource efficiency into their sustainability programmes.

Some like P&G have gone further to set zero-waste targets. Jacques Euler, Sustainability Program Leader from the Beauty Manufacturing Division, says the company is set to reach its target of 100% zero manufacturing waste to landfill from its operations by 2020. Regulations and findings suitable waste partners were cited as major challenges for the company in meeting this target internationally.

Tackling ocean plastic

The issue of ocean plastic came up several times at the summits. Kenny Harmel, Co-Founder of Galileo Watermark, said his company was compelled to find a solution when it discovered that a third of all plastic packaging ended up in the ocean. Galileo Watermark was the first company to launch a cosmetic product with packaging made from reclaimed ocean plastic. Since the launch of its OCN Cosmetics in December 2017, several companies have started using ocean plastic; these include P&G (Head & Shoulders beach plastic bottle), REN Clean Skincare, and Henkel.

Novel green materials

Many innovative green ingredients for cosmetic and personal care products were presented at the summits. Clariant gave details of its Genadvance material for sustainable hair conditioning. Covestro introduced Baycusan, used as a sustainable polyurethane for personal care products. DuPont showed how its GENENCARE OSMS BA material is derived from side stream of sugar beet production. Roelmi HPC presented Celus-Bi as a sustainable alternative to polyethylene beads.

 Plant cell technology

Novel actives are being developed for cosmetic & personal care applications according to this new technology. Elodie Mauger from Mibelle Biochemistry thus showed how it has created MossCellTec from biotechnologically produced moss. According to Anna Holefors, Founder and CEO of In Vitro Plant-Tech, plant cell cultivation enables the production of tailor-made actives for the cosmetics industry. There are also sustainability benefits since the technology does not deplete the plant population.

Upcoming editions of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in 2019:

Sustainable Cosmetics Summit North America, 8-10 May, New York
Sustainable Cosmetics Summit Europe, 4-6 November, Paris