Combined, the events attracted attendees from raw material suppliers and finished product manufacturers who were there to get tips and tactics from peers as well as experts outside the industries about issues surrounding sustainability—a topic that won’t go away.
“Over 200 senior executives combined attended these summits to discuss some of the major sustainability issues facing the cosmetic and home care industries,” explained Amarjit Sahota, chief executive officer, Ecovia.
Some of the pressing issues that came out of these events, according to Sahota were:
- Closing packaging loops to combat plastic pollution;
- Addressing health and environmental impacts of products;
- Targeting wider consumer segments, especially Millennials and Gen Z, with green products; and
- Emergence of new green brands, such as Seed Phytonutrients and Love, Home and Planet.
Many sustainable ideas originate from the supply side of the household and personal products industry. That was clearly evident during the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, held in May, when a number of raw material producers took to the podium to provide insights into what makes their products and business models sustainable. Michael Birman of Mibelle Biochemistry explained how plant stem cells can protect and activate human epidermal stem cells. He noted that, in contrast to human cells, every plant cell can regenerate new organs, such as leaves, stems, flowers and seeds or even the whole plant throughout their whole life. In addition, plant cells can de-differentiate under certain conditions and become stem cells.
With this in mind, Mibelle has developed PhytoCellTec, a technology to de-differentiate plant cells and produce stem cell cultures in large quantities. The technology makes it possible to cultivate cells of endangered and rare plant species, which helps preserve rare or limited plant stocks. Furthermore, PhytoCell Tec technology allows for the production of active raw materials without harming the environment, as it requires very little plant material, no agricultural land to produce biomass, significantly reduces water consumption compared to conventional biomass production and requires no fertilizer, pesticides or other chemicals. Mibelle’s three stem cell products, derived from apple, grape and alpine rose, provide two different modes of activity: general protection of skin stem cells and plant-specific activity; i.e., apple stem cells promote longevity, grape provides enhances UV protection and rose imparts resistance properties.
Croda has been providing sustainable solutions to the personal care industry for decades; for example, it relies more and more on non-fossil energy and 60-70% of its materials come from biobased feedstocks. Chris Sayner explained his company’s idea of a sustainable ingredient supply chain and the growing importance of clean beauty trends such as transparency, safety and responsibility. He reviewed Croda’s Ingredient Integrity program and noted that more sustainability efforts will reshape the personal care industry in the future.
“Brand integrity is under constant scrutiny by consumers and NGOs and third-party certification is increasingly important at all levels in the supply chain using publicly available standards and a transparent standard development process,” explained Sayner. “Life Cycle Analysis will become increasingly important in judging the sustainability of personal care consumer products.”
Genomatica offers natural glycols for personal care and Damien Perriman explained the benefits of using Brontide natural butylene glycol in personal care formulations. Glycols offer a range of functionalities including humectancy, emolliency, solvency, viscosity reducer, preservative booster, freeze-thaw stability and improved sensory feel. Brontide provides all of those benefits, but contains no heavy metals and with a much lower global warming impact.
“If 100 tons of petroleum-based butylene glycol was converted to Brontide, it would be the CO2 equivalent of 33 homes’ electricity use for one year,” observed Perriman.
The Sustainable Cleaning Products Summit was held last month. Presenters included executives from Unilever, Gojo and Earth Friendly Products, as well as presentations from trade associations and non-government organizations.
Keynote speaker Steve Cohen of The Earth Institute at Columbia University detailed the importance of sustainability management; e.g., organizational management practices that result in sustainable development, and economic production and consumption that minimize environmental impact and maximize resource conservation and reuse.
“We view sustainability management as the third and current phase of environmentalism,” Cohen explained. “The goal of sustainability management is to use technology and human ingenuity to increase the size of the economy while reducing environmental impact.”
It may seem unattainable, but it can and already has been done. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, from 1980 to 2015, the US GDP grew by 153%, the US population increased 41%, vehicle miles traveled grew 106%, but air pollution declined 65%.
According to Cohen, to reach the next level of sustainability requires an engaged citizen base, accurate science and measurement, technologies for renewable production, public policies and organizational practice that use knowledge of environmental impact and are flexible by design, and a change in culture, norms and values about consumption and lifestyle.
“Technological change results in economic change that, in turn, causes social change; social change creates a context for political change,” explained Cohen. “Sustainability requires all levels of society—government, the private sector and citizen participation, in order to succeed and move forward.”
Unilever executives have been warning about the environmental impact of FMCG products and consumer habits for decades. Clotilde Balassone detailed the emergence of Love, Home and Planet (LHP), Unilever’s new home and personal care company that is anchored in a love for the planet. As as result, all LHP products are packaged with recycled materials, sustainably sourced, water conscious and created with “benevolent innovation,” according to Balassone, who detailed the company’s work with the Givaudan Foundation to ethically source essential oils.
She went on to promote LHP’s Dry Wash Spray, which is designed to refresh gently worn clothes without having to wash them.
“It’s like dry shampoo for your clothes,” Balassone explained.
Consumers just apply Dry Wash Spray, smooth out and air dry the garment and hang up.
LHP relies on post-consumer resin for all of its packaging materials. But TerraCycle and its partners, including Unilever, want to do even better. Their Loop initiative is designed to eliminate the idea of packaging waste by creating high-quality packaging formats that can be reused again and again. TerraCycle’s Brett Stevens told Summit attendees that traditional PCR is no longer a differentiator with consumers.
“Because traditional sources of PCR are generic, brands that use recycled material lack a unique story that they can deliver to consumers on-shelf,” he explained. One of those unique stories was P&G’s Head & Shoulders beach plastic shampoo bottles that were created using beach-reclaimed HDPE. Retailers liked the story so much that P&G was able to secure incremental retail display space.
The Loop redesigns traditional packaging so that it can be reused without waste. Taking a page from milk delivery, the more durable the package the lower the cost per fill, explained Stevens. For example, a standard antiperspirant package results in a cost per use of 10 cents a package, but after dozens of uses, the Loop program reduces the cost per use to three cents. Loop is now available in Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont. This expansion comes approximately six weeks after the launch of the pilot in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, DC. Along with the expansion, the platform has greatly increased its product line to include Häagen-Dazs’ non-dairy frozen dessert flavors, International Harvest, Cascade and Tide, according to the company.
Loop is just the kind of program that may interest Millennials and Gen Z, two demographic groups that together account for more than 50% of the US population, according to Sourabh Sharma of Figorout, a digital marketing and public relations company.
“Younger generations have killed casual dining, beer and many other industries, which industry is next?” he asked.
Both Millennials and Gen Z expect sustainability to be a value of a company that sells products. As a result, the brands they choose to bring into their lives say something about the person, their values and how they fit in. And they’ll pay for it. While just 36% of the general population will pay full price for items made in a sustainable or environmentally-friendly way, 39% of Millennials and 40% of Gen Z agreed with that statement, according to a recent Cone Communications survey.
But in order to engage with these age groups, marketers must capitalize of digital trends such as Switch Off and #Connect2Earth, two social media-driven initiatives designed to reduce energy use. According to Sharma, just 1% of these consumers believe in “traditional” advertising; in contrast, more than 90% believe in influencers. In fact, 36% turn exclusively to social media influencers in their decision making.
Looking ahead, the 2020 North American dates for Sustainable Cosmetics Summit is May 6-8. No dates have been set for the Sustainable Cleaning Products Summit, according to Ecovia.
For more coverage of the Ecovia Summits, visit Happi.com.