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A Lesson in Sustainability: Natura's Marcos Vaz

By: Fernanda Bonifacio
Posted: August 31, 2010, from the September 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Since 2002, ABIHPEC has an agreement signed with the Amazon Biotechnology Center to identify and invest in research projects in the Amazon region. According to ABIHPEC president João Carlos Basilio, the demand for cosmetics with natural ingredients will keep growing. “In less than 10 years these products will no longer be just a niche in the beauty industry,” says Basilio. “They will account for 15% to 20% of the sector’s [sales]. If Brazil is not well-positioned in this segment, other countries will certainly be.”

And they already are. Amway, Aveda and L’Occitane are examples of companies that use Brazilian active ingredients in their formulations. Before being sold to L’Óreal, The Body Shop had bought Brazil nut oil produced by the Kayapó indians for many years—conflicts between neighboring villages culminated, however, ended the partnership. “The magnitude and longevity of a company is measured by its ability to promote sustainable development to the society,” says Vaz. According to him, more and more people are concerned about such issues as environmental impact, water saving, forests preservation and the reduction of carbon emissions due to global warming.

Natura’s figures show that, in 2009, its emissions of greenhouse gases were reduced by 5.2%. In the same period, the company recorded its highest rate in the use of renewable raw materials: 79.2%, compared to 77.5% in 2008. “Higher consumer awareness is helping the valuation of sustainable products,” Vaz concluded.

While celebrating the 10th anniversary of Natura Ekos, Natura announced its latest sustainability project: the launch of soaps containing 20–50% natural oils purchased from eight new partner communities. The program alone allowed the inclusion of 263 families in Natura’s chain. “In 2009, we allocated more than R$1.3 million (US$720 thousand) for supplying communities. With the new soaps, this value is expected to increase to R$2.6 million (US$1.44 million),” Vaz says.

In 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity as declared by the United Nations, Natura continues to play its role in preserving one of the world’s largest environmental heritages and shows it is possible to achieve the perfect balance between social development and economic success.