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New Sustainable Cosmetics Summit Focuses on Consumer Behavior, Green Ingredients

Posted: March 1, 2013

A number of lifecycle analysis studies show the highest environmental impact of beauty products is from raw materials, consumers (consumption phase) and post-use (disposal). With most cosmetic and ingredient firms focusing on raw materials and production processes, the consumption phase is often ignored. For the first time, the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit will discuss methods of encouraging responsible consumption of beauty, cosmetic and personal care products at its 2013 North American edition, which will be hosted at the InterContinental New York Barclay hotel May 16–18. A major question to be addressed is: how can consumers be motivated to encourage the responsible purchase, use and disposal of cosmetic products to minimize environmental impacts?

Green ingredients in beauty formulations are another focus. The move toward green formulations is gaining momentum because of high consumer demand for natural and organic cosmetics and beauty products, as well as diminishing supply of petrochemical feedstock. A number of speakers will discuss the growing use of plant and marine raw materials. Mibelle Biochemistry and IRB (owned by Croda) will look at the use of stem cell technology to cultivate beauty ingredients from plant sources. Another paper by Heliae will explore the potential of marine algae as a sustainable source of cosmetic ingredients. With a growing number of food ingredients crossing over into cosmetic applications, Horst Rechelbacher (founder of Aveda and Intelligent Nutrients) will state the difficulties in formulating with organic food ingredients.

Discussions will also cover the social dimension of beauty products. Most cosmetic and raw material suppliers are preoccupied with environmental impacts when considering sustainability. How can cosmetic and ingredient firms make a social difference with their products? Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps will state how its fair trade sourcing projects have improved the lives of marginalized producers in Palestine and Sri Lanka. And a large beauty company will demonstrate how social value can be created by CSR initiatives, human resources procedures, and customer-supplier relationships. In another presentation, Johnson & Johnson will highlight the challenges when juggling a diverse range of environmental and social issues in sustainability programs.

Michelle Thew, CEO of Cruelty Free International, will discuss alternatives to animal testing methods. Considering the European ban on animal-tested cosmetic products is imminent, many companies are adopting alternative testing methods. With a growing number of countries aiming to ban such products, she will outline the options available to beauty brands present in various continents.

Additionally, for the third consecutive year, the summit will host a CEO roundtable. Heads of natural and organic cosmetic brands will discuss key challenges concerning sustainability, market conditions, and consumer expectations and behavior. The roundtable will comprise CEOs/founders of Weleda, Caudalie, Intelligent Nutrients, Hugo Naturals, Desert Essence and Apivita.

An interactive workshop on green formulations will cap the three-day program. Judi Beerling of Organic Monitor will tackle the technical issues associated with using green ingredients. Although the palette of green raw materials has expanded considerably in recent years, technical issues remain. A review will be undertaken of the green alternatives to synthetic preservatives, emulsifiers, surfactants, emollients and more. Practical advice will be given to formulators and product developers on how to use these green ingredients in formulations.

Organized by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit is to encourage sustainability in the beauty industry by bringing together key stakeholders and debate major sustainability issues in a high-level forum. More information is available from the website.

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