Keen to be Green

The sustainable industry is booming and consumers all over the world increasingly want their consumables environmentally responsible, both for the product, and its packaging.

The global trend for sustainable cosmetics has been largely driven by changing consumer purchasing habits. Consumers not only want to feel good while using products, but feel good about them too. Cosmetics are a luxury item and consumers can invest substanial money in them. The challenge for cosmetics producers is that the industry has a long-held marketing mantra ‘to stand out from the crowd’, so many products come in expressive, elaborate and often unnecessary packaging.

So, how can the industry make profits and respond to consumer demand for sustainable and ethically produced cosmetics?

Sustainable products have in the past been price prohibitive, but with the acknowledgment of global warming and international agreements to reduce environmental impacts, new business opportunities have grown. The growth in infrastructure businesses such as chemical-free printers, commercial recyclers and green products on the whole are driving competitive alignment, so the cost barrier to engage in sustainable business practices is fast losing steam. In fact, a study conducted by leading US Consulting firm AT Kearney found that post-GFC, companies that were meaningfully committed to sustainability out-performed their competitors by 15 per cent. It is up to cosmetic producers to actively source new and more sustainable ways of producing its products.

In order to work, however, there must be an end-to-end commitment. No longer is it okay to have a product with all-natural ingredients then claim that it is sustainable. This is misleading to the consumer and damaging to the industry as a whole. Cosmetic production, distribution and waste should be transparent for the eco-friendly tag to be permissible.

Government initiatives, school curriculums, benefits of CSR programs and social media are all pushing organisations to build sustainability into their product development so over time the personal care industry will have to shift. However, those companies that are quickest to market with well communicated, detailed programs who are able to deliver quality and value for money, that are most likely to benefit from brand awareness and longer term consumer loyalty in an otherwise saturated and often confusing market.

Founder and Director of Adorn Mineral Cosmetics, Briony Kennedy, is a ten year veteran of the cosmetics industry and former salon owner. She’s committed to animal welfare and the environment, and to  finding better ways to produce, distribute and dispose of personal care products. She regularly writes for the beauty media and supports a variety of social groups and organisations.

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