Whether you’re examining the latest study on consumer behavior, the product labels on a market shelf, or your own personal conscience, the need is clear. Many of us want more sustainable options when it comes to beauty and personal care products. While there is no “magic wand” that can transform our options in an instant, significant progress has been made over time by individual businesses. Now, a new commitment has recently been made by key players in the industry to gain more ground by working together.    

This work began at the Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability Summit, held in Chicago in September 2014. The Summit was co-hosted by Target and Walmart and facilitated by Forum for the Future, a non-profit that works with other organizations to help solve complex sustainability challenges. Seventy-five individuals from various organizations were represented at the summit, spanning critical categories of influence, decision-making, and operations in the beauty and personal care industry:

  • Brands
  • Manufacturers
  • Packaging and other suppliers
  • Retailers
  • Academic thought leaders
  • Nongovernment organizations (advocacy groups)

“We brought key industry players together from every point in the supply chain because industry-wide collaboration is critical to making a difference for guests who ask us for more sustainable choices in personal care and beauty products,” said Christina Hennington, senior vice president for Health and Beauty at Target. “Even with the diversity of perspectives in the room, we saw tremendous agreement on the need for change that touches every step along the supply chain, as well as the areas to focus our attention moving forward.”

Participants identified nine possible options for moving forward on sustainability in beauty and personal care products. After the Summit the concepts were prioritized and combined, resulting in the below three workstreams. They were chosen as the best opportunities for increased effort and, ultimately, successful solutions.                                      

1.    Streamlined information-sharing: Exploring a process for sharing ingredient information in a way that’s fair, equitable, and accurate.

2.    Science-based assessment criteria: Discussing a common, universal set of criteria for evaluating sustainability, building on existing efforts.  

3.    Pre-competitive development of new preservatives: Determining the feasibility of investing in a shared working group for new research and development, with outcomes to be shared.

Next steps for these three initiatives include further scoping the issue, developing a long-term vision, and creating a roadmap for milestones.  

“We know this is bigger than any single company and we look forward to the conversations coming out of the summit about innovation,” Jody Pinson, VP for Beauty at Walmart, said. “Because this takes all of us working together and at the end of the day, the customer wins.”




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