The five multinationals say their aim is to meet growing consumer demand for greater transparency about the environmental impact of cosmetics products (formula, packaging and usage), thus helping consumers to make more sustainable consumption choices.

The harmonized scoring system could, for example, use a score ranging from A to E.

A collaborative consortium

The new consortium will be open to all cosmetics companies wishing to join and contribute to designing a system that allows consumers to compare cosmetics products within the same category. The ambition is for the overall score to inform consumers of the environmental impact of products, taking into account their whole product life cycle.

Sustainability consultancy Quantis, which launched the Sustainable Packaging Initiative for CosmEtics (SPICE) in 2018, should lead the project to ensure a robust and scientific approach.

The assessment of environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of products, will be backed by the principles of the “Product Environmental Footprint” (the European Union’s PEF scientific method for quantifying the environmental footprint of products). Furthermore, a common database of environmental impacts of standard ingredients and raw materials used in formulas and packaging, as well as during product usage, will need to be created.

Open global initiative

This global initiative is intended to be open to all cosmetics companies, regardless of their size or resources.

The convening five companies will pool their experience and knowledge in developing environmental impact assessment methodologies (as is the case for Henkel, LVMH, Natura &Co, and Unilever) and an environmental and social labelling system (as developed by L’Oréal).

All companies will benefit from this pre-existing work and are invited to contribute their own experience,” said the five groups in a statement.

The work developed by the consortium will be published and made accessible on a strictly voluntary basis by both consortium participants and all other interested parties. Cosmetics Europe has been actively following the process.

For several years, companies or NGOs have tried to launch environmental scoring systems for cosmetic products, but these initiatives are based on various methodologies making comparisons difficult. The approach of the giants of the sector could thus impose itself rather quickly.