About 140 senior executives from the beauty industry convened in Paris for the European edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, hosted at the Paris Marriott Champs-Elysées on 6-8 November, where discussions centered on green formulations, sustainable sourcing, social impacts, and sustainable fragrances.

Luigi Bergamaschi, owner of L’Erbolario, kicked off the summit with a keynote on green values. The leading Italian natural cosmetics brand has been involved in various sustainability initiatives over its 40-year history; it has recently set up an eco-friendly logistics hub, adopted green polyethylene packaging, and grows many of its plant materials according to organic farming methods.

Carletta Steiner-Heinz, owner and CEO of Heinz-Glas, gave insights into the German companies’ sustainability program. Family-owned since 1622, the business aims to become the most sustainable glass producer in the industry by investing in recycling and eco-efficient processes to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2020.

Details were given on the growing array of green materials for cosmetic and personal care products. Mariana Royer from Bio ForeXtra gave insights into new actives that are sourced from the Boreal forest in Quebec. The Canadian company is using forest biomass to produce actives for anti-ageing, hydration, and skin protection. Other new green materials featured in this session included bio-based esters, emulsifiers, and surfactants.

L’Oreal showed how it is reducing the environmental impact of its products by the eco-design approach; it is focusing on biodegradability and water footprint in new product formulations. DNA Gensee demonstrated how genetic fingerprinting can be used to provide traceability of green ingredients.

Adrian de Groot Ruiz, executive director of True Price, opened the sustainable sourcing session with an explanation of the true cost of agricultural ingredients. He showed how the environmental and social costs of many cosmetic ingredients were not factored into actual prices. Beraca outlined how it is addressing biodiversity and social impacts when sourcing clay-based ingredients from Brazilian biomes.

Gabbi Loedolff from Lush gave some insights into how the ethical cosmetic brand is undertaking sustainable sourcing. It set up the SLush Fund in 2010 to finance sustainable farming and community projects in various parts of the world.

The role of certification schemes was debated by key speakers in the panel discussion; some stated it legitimises marketing claims, whilst others said honest communications were more important.

Another session explored the various ways cosmetic companies can add social value to their products. Andrew Wallis of Unseen UK highlighted the invisibility of modern slavery in supply chains. His organisation believes there are about 40 million slaves worldwide that bring many business risks.

The role of fairtrade in creating positive social impacts was discussed by Rüdiger Meyer, CEO of FLOCERT. He called for more companies to use certified fairtrade ingredients to help tackle global poverty.

A number of speakers examined the need to move from linear to circular models or ‘closed loops’ whereby waste (used products and/or packaging) finds new applications. With over-reliance on landfill and marine pollution major concerns, the cosmetics industry needs to move away from traditional thinking of waste if it is to become more sustainable.

Sustainability discussions continue in 2018 editions of the summit at: Sustainable Cosmetics Summit North America 16-18 May, New York; Sustainable Cosmetics Summit Latin America 25-26 June, São Paulo; Sustainable Cosmetics Summit Europe 5-7 November, Paris; and Sustainable Cosmetics Summit Asia-Pacific 12-13 November, Hong Kong. Look up: www.sustainablecosmeticssummit.com