Organic Monitor recently announced that its first Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Latin America will take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil on September 24-26th. Participants and speakers will discuss technical and marketing issues and challenges associated with developing truly environmental and socially responsible cosmetics. Ethical sourcing of natural ingredients and social impact, biodiversity and the meaning of green formulations will be among the topics covered at the event.

With the boom of organic and eco-friendly products in the food and non- food categories, many companies have been using indiscriminately the terms “natural”, “organic” and “green”, misleading consumers to believe those products are safer than other brands or harmless to our health and the environment.

In the US and Europe defining and regulating “natural”, “organic” and “sustainable” cosmetics has been a long and complex process. There is still not one single industry standard to follow. Nevertheless, some companies have made the extra effort developing lines with great performance and within guidelines of sustainability, selecting only certified ingredients and formulations without synthetic substances and reflecting their respect for health and nature at every level of their operation. The Sustainable Cosmetics Summits allow participants to learn about those success stories from different countries, meet other industry players, share ideas and learn about the latest trends in a casual, but well organized set up.

Brazil was selected to host the Summit, as it has the strongest beauty care industry in the region and the largest number of cosmetics companies using organic certified ingredients and making other sustainability claims. Natura, the No. 1 cosmetics company in Latin America, was founded in the 1960s, with a business model incepted in the principles of sustainable development. A recent annual report indicates that the company's direct sales in the region will reach a turnover of around US$ 500 million in 2012. Other Brazilian firms with success stories include Surya Brazil, Florestas/Ikove, Magia dos Aromas and Reserva Folio, the first Brazilian cosmetics manufacturer certified by IBD (Instituto Biodinâmico).

In 2011 Brazil showed the biggest beauty care spending in the emerging markets and by 2014 the country is expected to become the second biggest cosmetics market in the world after the U.S.

Colombia is another important player in the region, mainly as exporter of natural ingredients for the cosmetics sector. The Colombian government is supporting a program to assist cosmetics firms to further develop value-added products over the next seven years.

The Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Sao Paulo will be the 8th edition of the international series of Summits organized by Organic Monitor. The other Sustainable Cosmetics Summits take place in the spring (New York), and fall (Paris and Hong Kong).

The cosmetics industry needs to improve measurement techniques for its environmental impact and increase adoption of sustainable packaging - two of the key conclusions during the North American edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in New York this month. Although many companies are undertaking life-cycle analysis to measure their environmental impact, there is lack of standardized methodologies and data and other difficulties related to the formulations. According to Intertek, packaging comprises a third of landfill waste. More efforts in better design that addresses ecological issues is needed to reduce its negative impact. Biodegradable packaging materials and possibly better bio-plastics need to be considered. According to Organic Monitor, the global market for natural & organic cosmetic products reached USD 9.4 billion in 2011.