Sustainability has gained much popularity within cosmetic and personal care companies, which are investing as they look to shore up their green credentials. As a consequence, the number of beauty companies appearing in international rankings of the most ethical and greenest corporations has been rising significantly.

The beauty industry has historically received negative media publicity for unethical business practices, however green appears to have become the new black,” says market research firm Organic Monitor in a release.

Actually, seven cosmetic companies [1] were in the recent World’s Most Ethical Companies List by Ethisphere Institute, up from four in 2011, and another assessment study by Corporate Knights named Natura Brasil as the second most sustainable corporation in the world, in particular because of its energy and waste productivity performance.

Sustainability is becoming an integral part of the business of major personal care companies. Procter & Gamble has set ambitious 2020 Sustainability Goals that involve reducing packaging, waste, reliance on synthetic chemicals, and greater use of renewable energy. It rates its suppliers via a sustainability scorecard that helps improve their environmental performance. Unilever has set similar targets via its Sustainability Living Plan, whilst Johnson & Johnson has launched its Healthy Futures 2015 initiative,” explains Organic Monitor.

Many cosmetic companies like Procter & Gamble and L’Oreal are using lifecycle analysis (LCA) tools in order to measure the environmental footprint of their products. However, the complexity of products and the lack of traceability in supply chains may make accurate measurement a difficult task. This key issue is among those that will be debated during the upcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit organised by Organic Monitor in New York next month.