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Moving Towards Sustainable Cosmetics - Dr. Barbara Olioso Talks to SpecialChem

Sreeparna Das – May 18, 2018

TAGS:  in-cosmetics     Natural/ Organic   

Moving Towards Sustainable Cosmetics - Dr. Barbara Olioso Talks to SpecialChemThis year, the global edition of in-cosmetics was held in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. It being the season of blooming tulips, one could only be in awe of nature’s beauty. And to ensure that this natural beauty remains intact, the beauty and personal care industry’s biggest event featured the 2nd edition of The Sustainability Corner.

Introduced in 2017, it is a great initiative to showcase cosmetics industry’s creativity and progress in environmental and social sustainability including the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It was the best place to get involved in debating the key aspects of sustainability and to discover the latest trends and developments. In fact, what was particularly encouraging to see was the industry’s move beyond compliance, thereby changing business operations to be fundamentally more sustainable.

Moderating the sustainability corner this year, was the leading expert – “The Green Chemist” – Dr. Barbara Olioso. It was a real pleasure to meet her there and I was glad to get the chance to sit down with her at SpecialChem’s booth for a nice chat!

What are the new 'green' trends to watch out for?

To me, the common denominator of the raw materials suppliers presenting in Amsterdam was a great effort and expertise put into ingredients quality and their process traceability, including the initial raw material to make other raw materials. It was really like getting into a never-ending rabbit hole! Many raw materials suppliers have all sorts of ISO, organic and fair trade certifications, also because consumers and even some retailers ask all sorts of questions about environmental impact.

For example, does this product cause deforestation in Asia? Or does it contain pesticides? Where does it come from? This means that formulators and manufacturers need to choose carefully their supply chain balancing the cost and transparency behind it because credibility and quality are as good as your supply chains.

What are the main challenges faced by today’s cosmetic formulator trying to switch to natural?

Depending on the application and budget, there can be restrictions on what is feasible and affordable. It is reasonable to take a step by step approach, especially for budget brands, switching gradually to renewable sources still looking at other criteria such as biodegradability in order to reduce the environmental impact at the end of the product lifecycle. Bruno De Wilde gave a great presentation giving us a guided tour in the world of biodegradability and its testing.

What were the top 3 takeaways for you from the Sustainability Corner?

Top 3 Takeaways from the Sustainability Corner
  1. Bruno De Wilde, the first keynote speaker and biodegradability expert at OWS, explained the importance of considering the end of product life to select the right conditions to evaluate biodegradability. Doing any biodegradability test without matching it to where the product will end up (for example the sea, the mains, the soil etc.) is pointless. Once established - the product is biodegradable, it is also important to assess if the degraded compounds are environmentally toxic.

    Again defining the environment to do the assessment is the key.

  2. Magda Carrasco, an international raw material department director at L’Oreal, shared the company’s commitment to innovating, producing and living sustainably. She gave a great example of how to balance all these criteria with the Biotherm Waterlovers, a product with a 96% biodegradable base which was tested in fresh as well as salted water. The product has also an environmental footprint that is 80% less than the average sun care product.

    This shows there is room for premium products with environmental benefits and transparent communication.

  3. Frank Boons, professor of innovation and sustainability at Manchester University, explained the circular economy and the essence of ecological sustainability, pointing out how circulation involves energy and resources. That is, the circular economy is not always ecological or sustainable. As a result of this challenge, he gave an example of a different business model focused more on providing a good service that is product based, rather than only selling products. It is very interesting to consider and explore different business models that use less resource.

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