The 2nd Asia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, the 9th edition of the international series of summits, drew to a successful close in Hong Kong in November. A major outcome is 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.

One of the speakers at the Summit, Grace Culhaci of Pure and Green Cosmetics, Sydney, Australia, is that country’s leader in sustainable packaging of cosmetic products, an area that the Asian cosmetics industry needs to address as very few brands in the region are taking steps to reduce the environmental footprint of their packaging.

Ms Culhaci shared her difficulties finding sustainable packaging solutions. She stated most packaging companies are disinterested in supplying sustainable materials. Pure & Green Organics is using PLA bio-plastics made from renewable plant sugar, an airless pump system that saves on waste, cardboard, soy inks and eco-design to make its packaging more environmentally-friendly.

Organic Monitor, the summit organizer, reached out to us based on their research of cosmetics companies in the Asia-Pacific region. They concluded that Pure & Green were in fact the leaders in the region in terms of eco packaging and sustainable philosophy (all products are certified organic, palm oil free, vegan and cruelty free, featuring locally sourced ingredients),” she said.

Pure & Green Organics is continuing to look for export opportunities in the Asia region and is particularly interested in selling into Hong Kong and has that as a goal for 2013.

“Many brands that presented at the summit are selling into China and see almost 60% of their income/growth come from the Chinese market,” Ms Culhaci said. “Unfortunately, the Chinese government has not lifted their ban on mandatory animal testing for imported cosmetics (as previously thought was going to happen). “Therefore, we have declined numerous opportunities to enter the Chinese market, and instead are focusing energy on Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan. Once alternatives to animal testing are accepted by the Chinese government we would be glad to offer our products for sale.”

Sales in Australia and export markets are definitely on the rise and Pure and Green believes this is due to its reasonable price point and offering a premium quality product at an affordable price - the real secret to the brand’s growth.

“Retailers comment that our manageable 18 sku range is not overwhelming and a welcome relief from some of the mammoth ranges they are presented with,” Ms Culhaci said. “Another key factor this year is in the Australian market where there’s a desire to support a locally made product and a growing understanding of real organic certification vs. ‘made with’ claims.”

The next Asia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, presented by London-based research, consulting & training company Organic Monitor, will look at ways of raising consumer awareness of green and sustainability issues in the region. The summit will take place next year in Hong Kong, November 11-12.