Environmental sustainability in the cosmetics supply chain

Creating our sustainable future: Cosmetic chemicals and the new SDGs

Just as business engagement was critical to the success of the epic Paris Agreement at COP21, it will be vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 goals cover a range of social, environmental and economic challenges facing the world. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has called on businesses to align their objectives with the SDGs, and to apply their creativity and innovation to develop solutions.

PwC recently asked industry executives to rank the SDGs in relation to their businesses and value chains. Within chemicals, the two top-ranked SDGs were those focused on climate action (SDG13) and responsible consumption and production (SDG12). This echoes the in-cosmetics Group’s research on environmental sustainability in the cosmetics supply chain.

In its white paper, in-cosmetics found numerous chemical companies already taking a lead on climate action. Many have committed to reduce carbon emissions by at least 10% by 2020. Others have invested in green chemistry and certified their ingredients. Lots are working to reduce their energy and water consumption and produce less or zero waste. BASF, DSM, Solvay, Akzo Nobel and Givaudan have taken the next step and put a price on carbon.

So what else can cosmetic chemical companies do? Ban Ki-Moon has asked companies everywhere to “assess their impact, set ambitious goals and communicate transparently about the results.” Obviously there are risks and costs associated with taking action on climate change. But by working together, governments, businesses and the community can reach the SDG targets.

In this spirit of collaboration, the white paper proposes four actions that cosmetic industry suppliers can take to help spur progress on sustainability:

1) Set science-based targets for CO2 emissions reduction to help keep global warming below 2°C
2) Invest in renewable energy to lower costs, improve profitability, reduce pollution and enhance company reputation
3) Optimise Responsible Care®, the industry-wide initiative on environment, health and safety
4) Further educate the sector on the sustainability agenda and its benefits for planet and people

We need to build on momentum of 2015’s two landmark global agreements. Starting now, we must radically change the way we produce and consume so it safeguards the planet’s resources. By improving sustainability throughout our supply chain, the cosmetics industry can have a major, positive impact in creating tomorrow’s cleaner, greener economy.

in-cosmetics Group partnered with The Soil Association to produce the white paper on sustainability

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