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Sustainable Cosmetics Summit Paris 2010

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The European Sustainable Cosmetics Summit was held in Paris 18 - 20.10.2010. The summit addressed the various ways beauty companies can reduce any adverse social and environmental impact. Major topics on the agenda included preserving biodiversity, offsetting carbon emissions, green formulations, ethical marketing and sustainable packaging. Firms producing ingredients and cosmetics presented case studies to underline the issues. The summit was organised by Organic Monitor, a specialist research, consulting and training company based in London. In the following, we present some highlights of how to make the world a better place. (Picture: Amarjit Sahota from Organic Monitor)
Mathilde Lauriau-Tadeschi is the Managing Director of Landor, a brand strategy company that in 2010 carried out a market survey in eight countries. They discovered that at least 30 % of consumers plan to spend more on green products next year. 9 - 50 % of the consumers in different countries found green an important criterion when choosing a product, with 2 - 34 % stating that this was not the case. Other important criteria are value for money, being trustworthy, caring about customers and being environmentally aware. Customers are put off by products being too expensive and difficult to find. 26 – 72 % of the consumers use certification marks to evaluate greenness, particularly in France, Germany and China. Waste recycling is becoming a bigger and bigger issue. The smart seeker will be the smart buy-green seeker, the value seeker becomes the value-and-green seeker, the convenience seeker becomes the convenience-and-green seeker and the trust seeker becomes the trust-and-green seeker. Cosmetics become green cosmetics when attention is paid to waste management, health concerns, water issues and communities.  (Picture: Audience of the conference)

Alexis Kryceve is the Managing Director and co-founder of Alter Eco (the French leading fair trade company) and Pur Projet that evaluates, reduces and offsets carbon emissions through reforestation. Global warming is putting pressure on companies to reduce their carbon emissions. Deforestation is responsible for 20 % of greenhouse gases. How do we change a threat into an opportunity? PurProjet calculates CO2 emissions, diagnoses greenhouse gases, advises on how to do things better, provides training and raises the awareness of company workers. (Picture: Networking Drinks Reception)

With its “zero carbon objective”, Hugo Boss tells its clients: “One bottle is one tree”. The goal is to plant 400,000 trees. The target of Clarins is to preserve the biodiversity of 500 ha or 6, 250 trees per year.

Rik Lojenga, the Executive Director of the Union for Ethical Biotrade, explained at the summit that 55 % of business people think biodiversity should be among all companies’ top 10 priorities. 80 % of consumers would probably stop and 30 % would definitely stop buying a brand if it didn’t apply good environmental or ethical practices in its sourcing and production process. The big question, says Lojenga also, is whether patenting natural ingredients is ethical? (Photo: Andrew Dixon from Burt's Bees)

According to Rainer Plum (picture left below), the co-founder of Tautropfen Naturkosmetik (first Demeter cosmetics producer) and founder of the New Ethics Institute, the new customers for natural cosmetics are well-informed, well-educated, self-confident and self- aware and come from almost all social and political groups and all age-groups. Today, these customers want more than just organic, natural or chemical-free cosmetics. In this respect, Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) plays the vital role of self-regulation within a business model regarding ethical standards and international norms. The key issues are: people, planet, profit. The stories we tell must be true, absolutely true, and must be compatible with the company’s corporate identity and mission. There should be no greenwashing. For example, the Hugo Boss campaign uses greenwashing. It would be better if Hugo Boss started buying natural or, even better, organic alcohol. And instead of synthetic aromas it should go in for natural aromas or, better still, organic essential oils. We see good examples of CRS at Weleda, that provides daycare facilities for the children of their employees, or Tautropfen’s campaign “Roses instead of Opium”. Top brands in organic stores in Germany are Dr. Hauschka 30 %, Lavera 17 %, Weleda 17 %, Logona 13 %, Sante 5 % and Tautropfen 5 %. (Photo on the right: David Reccole from Naturecos)

Professor of Chemistry Michael Braungart (picture) is the co-author of Cradle to Cradle, the founder of EPEA int. Umweltforschung and the co-founder of McDonough Braungart Design. He stated that: “We don’t protect if we consume less. Carbon neutral must become carbon positive. Sustainable and compostable are the minimum. Or green chemistry if chemistry is to be good. Nature is not efficient. Why be less bad if we can be good? Plastics kill birds and fish. Cradle to grave has a target of zero bad - a target of reduction, avoidance, minimization, prevention and eco-efficiency. Cradle to cradle’s goal is quality, with a target of defining, increasing, supporting, optimizing, eco-effectiveness, and holistic beauty. A woman consumes 6.3 kg of lipstick in her lifetime. You can say this printer does a fantastic job, but the toner is toxic - be careful. Guilt management is not good, be positive. There are 600 toxic chemicals in children’s toys.  Cradle to cradle is fun and not dictatorship.”

Ines Hermida (picture), the Whole Body Coordinator at Whole Foods Market Europe, told the audience what Whole Foods expects from its suppliers. Clinical trials yes, but  greenwashing is not allowed. Plastics must be 100 % Post Consumer Recyclable (PCR) or a minimum 50 % PCR or HDPPE. She said they encourage the switch to glass. What they need urgently is cheap organic toothpaste, and they are still looking for acceptable make-up, perfume, medical products with a luxury feel, men’s products, anti-ageing products and also baby care, haircare, showergels and oral care. She explained that WFM has carried out a product swap: from conventional to natural to organic; and they are now looking for “hero” products and loyal hero product customers, and new trendy ingredients. Why buy organic? For reasons of safety, mistrust of chemicals or to avoid allergies. Organic is healthier, works better, is more nourishing, has been used for centuries, cares for the environment and is biodegradable. She said they use pure essential oils that are plant-based and with no animal testing. Good performance, texture, absorption, fragrance, etc., are vital. Packaging design is very important, and it’s time for the world image to rely less on the word “natural”.
Claire Braithwaite is the founder of LoveLula internetshop. She said the internet can give consumers something different. In all towns, all the shops sell the same things. An internet shop is all about branding, making the site effective, creating traffic (keywords, paid ads, banners on other sites, bloggers), user-friendly navigation, displaying products with very attractive pictures, providing lots of information, giving security, certifications, cross-selling, online offers, customer service, hero products or brands, constant feedback and not giving too much choice.

Richard Stacy (picture) is the founder of Stacy Consulting, a social media advice company. For social media, he advises the audience not to listen to an advertising, media or digital agency. Social media means the end of brand proposition and the return of the world of storytelling. Social media is about listening to conversations about your products. It’s about conversation, content and community. It’s about Google as your website where people find their answers. His advice is never to rent space on another company’s community. In his view, it’s usually better to support communities that have already been built by consumers but, if you do create your own community, start small. Dell does it well; Dove does it badly; and Lush does it very well.

Kristin Taylor is Business Development Manager at Mirel Bioplastics. She explains why PCR (post consumer recycled) is a false dogma. Better is 100 % biodegradable, and even better is 100 % compostable. And she has a solution: PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) is 100 % compostable and 100 % biodegradable in any highly active microbial environment. It has an excellent heat (145°C) and moisture resistance and can be delivered GMO free.

A note about the next conference and other information: The conference proceedings of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit are available for a small professional fee. More details are available hereOrganic Monitor is now busy organising the Sustainable Foods Summit in San Francisco (USA) on 18-19th January 2011. A portion of profits generated by the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit will go into the Ecovia Sustainability Fund, that has been set up to encourage sustainable development through charitable donations. The beneficiaries of this fund are the Youth Harvest Foundation, the Caritas Association in the Para Region in Brazil and Bees Abroad UK. (Picture: Networking during lunch)

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