Greater leadership required to create more sustainable beauty and personal care products



Leading sustainability non-profit, Forum for the Future, has invited members of the beauty/personal care industry to join a new leadership group in December 2015 that will steer the sector toward producing better and more sustainable products for consumers.

This follows a year of intensive work by Forum for the Future, supported by major retailers Target and Walmart, in an industry-wide Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability project. Bringing together stakeholders across the entire value chain – from ingredient manufacturers and scientists to consumer brands and retailers – it aimed to diagnose the challenges and opportunities in the beauty and personal care industry and decide on measures to deliver more sustainable products on shelves.

Laysha Ward, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer at Target said: “We know that wellness and sustainability matter to our guests, and it is our goal to provide them with innovative solutions that meet them where they live, learn, work and play. The demand for sustainable products is ever growing, and we recognize the need for industry-wide collaboration in order to bring better and more sustainable products to consumers. We look forward to working with Forum on spearheading this exciting new phase that will bring quality sustainable products to the market more quickly.”

Shawn Townzen, Vice President, Personal Care for Walmart said: “Walmart is pleased to support this initiative that brings together members of the beauty and personal care industry to lead the sector toward permanent and positive change. We appreciate Forum’s innovative work to change the system and invite suppliers and other retailers to join in this collaborative effort to put products on shelves that are both affordable and sustainable.”

Forum for the Future has also published a new think piece report, entitled Driving the Big Shift to Sustainability, which shares insights from the process of bringing diverse stakeholders together to achieve widespread change.

The think piece outlines the steps taken throughout the in-depth system diagnosis process and the gaps and opportunities uncovered. These include the need to improve access to information across the supply chain, the lack of shared criteria to evaluate the sustainability of products, and the need to stimulate more innovation in key areas such as the development of new preservatives.

Based on Forum’s system diagnosis, the think piece identifies two key recommendations to accelerate sustainability in the industry:

1) Convening a leadership group to ‘connect the dots’ between existing and new industry initiatives on sustainability in order to ensure maximum impact

2) Developing collaborative measures to bring new sustainable ingredients to market more quickly

As a direct result of these recommendations, the planned leadership group will lead efforts to connect industry sustainability and innovation efforts, in order to rapidly and effectively build on the momentum of the project. The group will aim to achieve greater alignment between existing organizations actively working to drive sustainability in the industry, ensuring wider change through more effective communication and mutual cooperation to tackle the industry’s complex challenges.

The leadership group will also bring the industry together to address a critical gap by accelerating the route to market for new product ingredients, beginning with preservatives. It will consider developing and piloting market measures – such as shared Intellectual Property (IP) rights to certain sustainable ingredient applications and forward purchase agreements to clearly demonstrate demand. This would allow more companies to use new sustainable ingredients more quickly, and thus create and sell better products within a shorter space of time. These steps will include key industry group GC3, whose existing work to accelerate innovation of new, safe and effective preservatives is closely in line with Forum’s recommendations.

Helen Clarkson, Director, Forum for the Future US, said: “The project to achieve more sustainable beauty and personal care products is clear evidence that the industry has embraced the need to collaborate in order to make positive, long-lasting change. In the short term, it is vital that the industry maintains the impetus that’s already been created in order to make sure these proposed changes take effect.

“We’re thrilled to be entrusted with the task of creating a new leadership group that will take this project to the next level, and are delighted that Target and Walmart will be part of this new phase. As momentum grows, we hope more stakeholders will be part of the leadership group to help us connect industry activities on sustainability in the beauty and personal care sector, for maximum impact that will ultimately benefit the consumer.”

To find out more about the Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability project and to download the think piece, please visit the Forum’s project webpage. To explore membership of the new leadership group, please get in touch with Forum for the Future at info@forumforthefuture.org.


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