Tips for a more sustainable cosmetics industry

Toni Carroll, founder of local nutricosmetic brand, My Beauty Luv outlines ways industry players can ensure they are more environmentally friendly.

The global cosmetics market is projected to reach $463.5 billion by 2027.1 This increase has been accompanied by consumers placing greater focus on the sustainability of the beauty products they use, with concerns about whether they are packaged in recyclable packaging (21%), the producer’s ethical credentials (21%) and whether they are made from sustainable materials (20%).2 As such, it is vital for the industry to ensure it makes a change, not only to grow, but to make a positive impact on the environment.

In light of Earth Day, which takes place annually on 22 April, My Beauty Luv’s Toni Carroll says that the trend is no different in South Africa, especially among millennials and gen Zs.

“This cohort makes up a large part of the consumer market and they are extremely concerned about climate change and the environment. This is reflected in a recent report which revealed that more than a quarter of millennials and gen Zs said that certain businesses’ impact on the environment has influenced their buying decisions.”3

My Beauty Luv's Beauty Blast pack shot
My Beauty Luv’s Beauty Blast is a full spectrum rejuvenating skin elixir is crafted from carefully chosen and distinct 100% natural ingredients. The glass packaging can be reused or recycled

Recyclable packaging

Studies have shown that the beauty industry generates up to 120 billion units of plastic packaging per year, contributing to the loss of 18 million acres of forest annually.4 Additionally, almost all plastic is derived from materials made from fossil fuels and the process of extracting and transporting those fuels, then manufacturing them into plastic, produces billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases.5

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the more plastic we make, the more fossil fuels we need, and the more we exacerbate climate change.

Apart from this, much of the plastic used in the industry is single use which ultimately ends up in landfills. Brands should consider using recyclable and sustainable packaging like glass which can be recycled or reused.

Sustainably sourced ingredients

Historically, many beauty products have been made out of toxins that can negatively impact both the planet and our bodies. These include parabens, fragrance, sulphates, microplastics and palm oil. Today, however, brands have the opportunity to use alternatives or ensure that their products don’t include these harmful ingredients while also making a shift towards ingredients that are all natural and free from fillers, binders, flow agents and preservatives.

It is also vital that brands are not testing on animals and, should their products use animal by-products, such as fish collagen, this too should be ethically and sustainably sourced. In the case of fish collagen, for example, this would mean using fresh water farmed fish as this results in the industry not depleting the ocean’s ecosystem.

Sustainable policies

Businesses spanning the gamut from large corporates to small, entrepreneurial beauty companies are refining their business models to include sustainability. In doing so, these companies are adopting a triple bottom line approach which prompts the organisation to focus on more than just profits, or the ‘bottom-line’, and measure their environmental and social impact. This has been referred to as ‘the three Ps’: people, planet and profit.

Doing well and doing good are intertwined, with research by McKinsey finding that companies with high environmental, social, and governance ratings consistently outperform the market in both the medium and long term.

Businesses can go about this by identifying potential areas for improvement that could benefit from sustainability initiatives, as well as by incorporating sustainability into their mission statement and holding internal and external stakeholders accountable for change.

“This year’s Earth Day theme calls on us to invest in the planet, and I urge the beauty industry to heed this and make the changes necessary to help save our world from the environmental threats that are killing it, and us too. There is a better way to do beauty,” concludes Carroll.



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