Experts and industry members who gathered in Hong Kong a couple of weeks ago for the 2nd Asia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit agreed on the fact that the Asian cosmetics industry needs to raise the bar for sustainability. “The region is lagging in many ethical and ecological areas, such as alternatives to animal testing, ecological packaging, green formulations, as well as consumer education,” summarizes Organic Monitor, the research firm organizing the event.
A major challenge for Western natural and organic brands in Asia is low consumer understanding of green issues. As a consequence, many brands - such as Australia’s Jurlique and Perfect Potion, or Greece’s Apivita - are resorting to opening concept stores so they can engage directly with consumers and educate them.
With some ethical cosmetic brands unable to enter the Chinese market because of its animal testing methods, alternative methods were extensively discussed at the summit. Anthony E. James from the Chinese University of Hong Kong stated that China was falling behind many Asian countries that are now using a range of alternative testing methods. International trade - rather than pressure from NGOS and consumer groups - could force China to accept alternatives to animal testing methods. According to Nick Palmer from Cruelty-Free International, Chinese authorities will be under pressure to change their stance when the EU implements its ban of animal-tested ingredients and cosmetic products in 2013.
According to Organic Monitor, “sustainable packaging of cosmetic products is another area the Asian cosmetics industry needs to address.” Indeed, very few Asian brands are taking steps to reduce the environmental footprint of their packaging.
The nextAsia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit will look at ways of raising consumer awareness of green and sustainability issues in the region. The summit will once again take place in Hong Kong, on 11-12th November 2013.