An in-depth look into how the beauty industry is adopting sustainable practices
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent warning suggests that human activity has irreversibly damaged the Earth’s climate. This bleak statement has made the reality of climate change a far more pressing concern than it has ever been.
It has now become pertinent for companies to take the responsibility of environmental conservation on their shoulders. The beauty industry, much like many others, has been taking proactive steps to combat climate change. The global clean beauty market has been estimated to be worth US$5439 million in 2020, with this value expected to reach US$11558 million by 2027.
Let’s take a look at a closer look at some sustainability initiatives in the beauty industry.
Shiseido-owned ELIXIR is one of the brands working towards making their production techniques more sustainable. The brand aims to convert all its flagship products into a refillable format by 2025.
By using refillable packaging, ELIXIR hopes to reduce approximately 400 tons of plastic on an annual basis. The key idea behind the campaign is “small changes for a big difference”. This program will reduce the environmental burden at both the production and disposal stage of the product.
Upon studying their environmental impact, L’OREAL linked 50% of a product’s environmental footprint to its packaging.
Aiming to improve the environmental and social profile of its products, the company has set a target to convert 100% of their plastic packaging to refillable, rechargeable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. By 2030, L’Oreal intends to ensure that 95% of its ingredients are obtained from renewable plant sources, abundant minerals or circular processes.
The company has also initiated “Environmental and Social Impact Labelling.” This labelling practice includes a score from A to E with “A” being the category with the least environmental impact. By increasing access to information, L’Oreal strives to aid the consumers in making informed decisions and thus lead to sustainable consumption.
In November 2020, the Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) announced that it had achieved net-zero carbon emissions. ELC is now run on 100% renewable electricity by investing in solar energy.
ELC is also a proponent of “green chemistry”, assigning a green score to each of its products. This score quantifies how effective the formulation has been in making choices beneficial for human health, ecosystem health and the environment.
ELC has been actively working to reduce the environmental impact from the packaging of its products across the product’s lifecycle. It is committed to making 75-100% of its packaging refillable, recyclable and recoverable by 2025. Towards this goal, ELC has increased the use of post-consumer recycled materials (materials recovered after a product has made its way through the consumer cycle) by 50%.
What’s causing this change of heart?
The most significant reason to adopt sustainable practices is the rising consumer demand for sustainable products. Studies suggest that 79% of consumers change their purchase preferences based on social responsibility, inclusiveness or environmental impact.
Consumers are now more aware than ever of “greenwashing” attempts by companies. Greenwashing is a practice where a company misleads consumers into believing that the product they are purchasing or the organization itself is environmentally friendly. The recent instance of Innisfree’s paper bottle misleading consumers has been a clear example of this phenomenon.
Consumers today want information. They want to know the steps companies are taking to be more environmentally conscious. Around 42% of consumers seek labeling which contains details of a company’s environmental impact, such as their CO2 emissions. Thus, to fortify customer loyalty and continue having the resources needed for production, businesses need to adopt planet-friendly practices.
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