How the Beauty Industry Is Promoting Sustainability

The global cosmetics market is projected to reach nearly $430 billion dollars by 2022, with a shift in preference towards natural, organic, and herbal products. Alongside this shift, studies show that consumers are also driving change with a focus on embracing greener packaging and sustainable products. Roughly 80% of consumers indicate that sustainability is important to them, and 60% are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. The beauty and cosmetics industry is rising to meet consumer demand by following the practices listed below. 

Recycled Packaging

The beauty industry generates a lot of plastic waste from product containers and packaging. Plastic waste may come in the form of product packaging, such as color and shadow pallets, bottles and containers for lotions, serums, shampoos, conditioners, or tubes for beauty products such as mascara, liquid eyeliners, or lipgloss. For beauticians, cosmetologists, estheticians, and those that have chosen a career in makeup, waste can also be attributed to single-use application products, such as those given out as samples or received as a promotion from companies. 

 

Some approaches that beauty companies are taking include using plastic-free packaging, or biodegradable solutions. Companies can also ensure that any plastics used in packaging are recyclable, or offer return-and-refill options. Return-and-refill options may include glass or metal cases that can be shipped back to the manufacturer to be refilled with the same product, or a new color palette, for example.

Banning Toxic Ingredients

Beauty products often contain a list of ingredients as directed by the FDA’s cosmetic labeling guide, and must adhere to the FDA’s prohibited and restricted ingredient list in cosmetics. However, there are still toxic ingredients and contaminants found in many cosmetics including carcinogens, types of formaldehyde, and chemicals that can disrupt hormones and damage the reproductive system. 

 

The consumer push for natural and organic ingredient cosmetics has resulted in companies adapting and changing the chemistry of their cosmetics to include safer ingredients. This may include removing or replacing unnatural preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners, or color pigments to create more safe and sustainable products. Some states in the U.S. are passing legislation that bans toxic ingredients, such as Consumer Protection Bill 2762 signed into law in California.

 

While some laws are increasing public and environmental protection from toxic ingredients, and many companies are making strides to meet the demand of consumers for safe and green products, the responsibility of selecting safe products ultimately lies in the hands of the consumer. The rise of beauty science influencers is helping to change the industry by sharing expert information, discrediting pseudoscience, and providing safety reminders. With admission to a makeup course and through coursework and diploma programs, students may learn more about toxic ingredients, their effects, how to avoid them, and how to advocate for safe products.

Embracing Eco-Friendly Manufacturing

Eco-friendly packaging and sustainable ingredients are becoming more popular in the beauty industry than ever before; but just as important to consider are sustainable practices that concern the manufacture and development of beauty products as well. Practices concerning the sustainable development of cosmetic products may include:

 

Updating Policies

From corporate to small entrepreneurial beauty companies, many businesses are renewing and improving their business model to include sustainability. Adopting a sustainable and green orientation in business includes identifying vices and virtues of the company, incorporating sustainability initiatives in the company’s leadership model and mission statement, and holding internal and external stakeholders accountable for change. These transformations may occur by adhering to the changing consumer protection adaptations that are being made in regards to toxic ingredients, as well as considering the impacts of other ingredients such as microbeads for exfoliation. Policies such as the microbead-free waters act of 2015 encourage companies to seek solutions for microbead exfoliants with planet-friendly options, but it is the company’s responsibility to find equitable solutions that provide the same result with a lower impact.

Increasing Efficiency in Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management innovation and sustainability in cosmetics includes considering the lifecycle management of a product from cradle to grave. This means taking a deeper look at the direct and indirect members of the supply chain in a collaborative manner to seek solutions for any problems found, which may include:

 

  • Creating and designing a product that includes sustainable and holistic ingredients, and considering the shelf life of the product.
  • Manufacturing a product using sustainable practices and ingredients, i.e. clean renewable energy
  • Packaging and distribution processes that include biodegradable or recyclable packaging and RFID technology. 
  • Recycling and reusing waste created by the product such as returning bottles for refilling or making containers out of biodegradable or recyclable materials.

The Future of Sustainable Beauty Products

The next phase of sustainable business practices — including in the beauty industry — arise from market demand and the ability to remain successful with changing trends. This may include increasing visibility and diversity in the beauty community or addressing critical issues that may affect climate change, water scarcity, species extinction, plastic pollutants, and deforestation. 

Consumer Demand Growth

Studies on the landscape of sustainability in the marketplace show that consumers are approaching purchases with a “healthy for me, healthy for the world” mindest, and view each purchase with a lens that measures convenience, price, and awareness. As younger generations join the marketplace, increases in preference for compassionate and sustainable products and practices of businesses and corporations continue to grow without a foreseeable end. 

The By-Product Beauty Movement

The by-product beauty movement utilizes active cosmetic ingredients from the by-products of plants, as well as valuable components and extracts from agronomical disposable wastes. This may include utilizing organic food waste or extracting valuable ingredients and components from fish, meat, and dairy products that would normally go to waste. These valuable extracts are effective, inexpensive, and bio-sustainable, creating the opportunity to reduce waste while reducing cost.

Alternatives to Palm Oil

Palm oil is a controversial product that has caused headache and heartache for consumers, environmentalists, and businesses alike. The economic and environmental effects of palm oil production may seem difficult to navigate, as nearly 70% of cosmetics contain it as an ingredient. Palm oil can also be found in nearly 50% of all consumer goods. Palm oil production is increasing the dramatic effects of deforestation and loss of habitat for animals. However, many companies are looking for alternatives including yeast-grown alternative products that offer similar benefits, but can be cultivated using organic plant waste.

Recycling Programs

Brands and cosmetic companies are now actually showing they care by creating company-based recycling programs. If recycling is not readily available to the consumer, these companies will collect their packaging materials to be repurposed, reused, recycled, or used for energy generation.  

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