Over the past two years, countless other requirements have added up to “green” and “clean”: vegan, halal, cruelty-free, local, seasonal, DIY, handcrafted, small batches, and zero waste - and of course, “organic” is at the source of this widespread green movement (we had almost forgotten about it!).
In addition to these leading trends, today’s consumers want evidence that their products are environmentally friendly: what the product contains is no longer the main issue, nor is efficacy. Instead: where do the ingredients come from? How were they and farmers taken care of? What are the materials contained in the packaging? How are products transported? Etc.
All this raises many other questions brands and suppliers need or will need to answer, like: is it meaningful to have ingredients come from the other side of the world? Is it ethical and coherent to boast about using a plant from Amazonia or Okinawa? At least, certainly not without offsetting the carbon emissions produced or ensuring the sustainability of the said ingredient (“giving back to the Earth”). Given the many discussions available online, in public hearings, in focus groups, or in the written press, it will no longer be acceptable.
The search for transparency has no limits: the corresponding term is “Radical Transparency” (the economic model of DNVBs). Indeed, it is now packaging’s turn to be in the spotlight, with the following questions to answer: is the pack used recyclable? Recycled? Biobased? How? Why has the brand chosen to use this material instead of another? What country does it come from? What about transport? The use of single-use plastic is despised, and the era of post-plastic is coming, as can be seen with Lush’s Naked range and their three zero plastic stores, and the success of solid cosmetics (Lamazuna have seen their sales boom since COP21), of new bulk cosmetics models, like CoZie, or of DIY, such as the new Typology brand – the first competitor to Aroma-Zone? They use plastic, but they say they have been working hard to get rid of it.
Traceability is being implemented throughout the supply chain, because users want and will want to know everything. Hence this key position for brands: state, explain, provide information upstream (before any potential bad buzz)… even if everything is not perfect. Indie brands do that particularly well: “We are not perfect, but we are working on it!”
To conclude, the equation of 100% virtuous brands is hard to solve, but many initiatives give reason for confidence, as they help manage this huge change – for the planet, which also means for us. Both the main players in the cosmetics and food industries and Indie brands give priority to sustainable development and CSR. And it is getting cross-disciplinary, just like digital technologies were, ten years ago.
The fact that a giant like Danone achieves the feat of meeting the B Corp Certification requirements is incredibly inspirational! (In Canada and the US, Emmanuel Faber aims to have Danone Monde get B Corp-certified in the years to come: see the film Après Demain. In the cosmetics industry, Laboratoires Expanscience already have this certificate). The new Loop “zero waste” platform to be launched next spring is also an amazing initiative: this e-commerce website federates 25 multinationals and involves a deposit system for flagship consumer products in order to reduce waste. And of course, it is easy-to-use for consumers. As for ADEME (French Agency for the Environment and Energy Management), they have launched the “Circular economy” label as the ultimate guarantee. Everyone is active on their own level. “Be part of it!”, as Stella McCartney exclaimed as she announced the creation of a Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action.
This article provides a synthesis of the already available study “Green, what’s next?” conducted by Florence Bernardin, Laurence Caisey, and Hugo Willemin. See the agency’s website at www.trendsourcing.com