AN URGENT SUSTAINABILITY MANIFESTO
In an industry first, the British Beauty Council has released a sustainability report, calling on the beauty industry to collaborate through a Sustainable Beauty Coalition and outlining ways in which we can and should move forward together as an industry to nurture and protect our planet.
Commissioned by Millie Kendall MBE, CEO of the British Beauty Council, and Anna Teal, British Beauty Council Pillar President for Innovation and CEO of Aromatherapy Associates (a business which just successfully achieved B-Corporation status), the report was researched and written by social impact consultancy Junxion Strategy with a survey of 3,000 UK residents commissioned by environmental charity Hubbub featuring in the report.
According to the Courage To Change report, confusion about which products can be recycled, too much plastic, cruelty to animals and ocean pollution are some of consumers’ top concerns regarding the beauty sector. The report also sets out a vision and action plan for a sustainable beauty sector in the UK and the role that government and consumers might play, and outlines the key sustainability-related issues affecting the business of beauty:
- Supply chain vulnerabilities, highlighted even further by the global pandemic, are being exacerbated by environmental changes resulting from climate change and biodiversity loss.
- Ingredients, both rare and more common, are being affected by changing weather patterns and over-consumption. Increases in flooding and drought are heavily impacting not only agriculture, but also manufacturing.
- Access to water is a growing challenge. This is of particular concern to the beauty industry, which is such a high volume user. Scarce resources are expensive ones, so it will make less and less business sense to persist with outdated practices.
- Industrial processes: recent research has found that perfumes, hairsprays and deodorants pollute the environment as much as car emissions
With these in mind, the British Beauty Council is calling for:
- Individual brands to do more to improve the impact of their products and support consumers to make better choices
- Consumers to choose positively impactful products, use them wisely and engage with brands on the issues they care about
- The industry to collaborate through a Sustainable Beauty Coalition
In fact, change is beginning to happen. On 2 November, the government-run Competition and Markets Authority announced that it will investigate descriptions and labels used to promote products and services claiming to be ‘eco-friendly’, and whether they could mislead customers. Such misleading behaviour could include exaggerating the positive environmental impact of a product or service, or implying that items are eco-friendly when this is not true. And as the Hubbub survey has revealed, 86% of beauty consumers want information about ingredient supply chains, while 1 in 5 people don’t know how to check a product’s sustainability credentials2. The CMA’s investigation will include a number of sectors, but will focus on areas where consumers appear to be most concerned about ‘eco-friendly’ claims, including fashion, cosmetics, food and cleaning products.
The Hubbub survey also shows a shift in consumer habits with 1 in 7 people saying they’ve recently changed to a more environmentally friendly cosmetic product or brand and 59% saying they would be willing to refill their beauty or grooming products3.
“It’s time the beauty industry started working together like we’re seeing other industries do. We believe the Courage to Change report was an urgent first step towards a collective industry effort. With the growing interest in responsible consumption and the collective consciousness that has been borne out of a global pandemic and six months of social unrest, prioritising sustainability isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense, too,” says Anna Teal.
The report was launched with a panel talk, moderated by Anna Teal with guests Adam Garfunkel, co-owner of report authors Junxion, Jayn Sterland, Managing Director at Weleda UK, Dr Mark Smith, Director General at The International Natural and Organic Cosmetics Association (NATRUE AISBL), Phil Cumming, Global Head of Sustainability for Walgreens Boots Alliance’s Global Brands Division and Ray Hopkinson, Creative Partner at Hubbub.
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3 Survey of nationally representative sample of 3,000 adults conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Hubbub on July 2020.
2 Survey of nationally representative sample of 3,000 adults conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Hubbub on July 2020.