How Leading Beauty Retailers Are Embracing Sustainability

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Beauty brands have a responsibility to make products with sustainable ingredients. They also need to consider sustainability in the wider supply chain including the sourcing of raw materials, production, packaging and distribution.

As the clean beauty movement gains traction, new audiences are discovering and supporting brands with environmental and ethical principles. Automated license verification systems are helping beauty professionals and salons comply with regulations while showcasing their sustainable credentials.

1. Investing in Sustainable Packaging

For beauty brands, sustainable practices aren’t just about clean formulas; they’re also about a new level of responsibility for packaging. Mass-market beauty retailers are calling for more attention to be given to the environmental impact of cosmetic products’ packaging, which is a major area of waste.

For example, while many beauty products are marketed as recyclable, the reality is that the boxes and tubes that hold them are often not accepted in curbside recycling programs because of decorative elements that need to be removed beforehand. Plus, the containers themselves are often a mix of materials that can’t be separated for easy recycling.

To address these concerns, companies like TerraCycle and Loop offer services that allow customers to return empty beauty product bottles for refills and to recycle plastic they might otherwise throw away. This not only reduces waste, but it also creates dignified jobs for workers who might otherwise face poor working conditions and low pay in the recycling sector.

2. Investing in Sustainable Ingredients

The beauty industry is poised for growth in the next few years and embracing sustainability means transforming the entire supply chain. This includes raw material inputs, manufacturing, packaging and distribution as well as consumer use and disposal.

The first step is limiting the use of harmful substances, such as plastic. New sustainable materials are allowing brands to do this without sacrificing the functionality and aesthetics of their products.

Cosmetics manufacturers are also reducing their environmental footprint by using renewable energy to power manufacturing, using recycled and biodegradable ingredients and sourcing locally. And 42% of beauty shoppers want to see easy-to-understand labeling that identifies sustainable claims, such as responsibly sourced or zero-waste.

One such example is Etat Libre d’Orange, which created an eco-friendly packaging alternative to plastic. Its bottles are made from Notpla, a plant-based plastic-like material co-created by a former L’Oreal packaging engineer that combines the sturdiness of plastic with a natural feel. The brand also uses upcycled posters in its advertising campaigns.

3. Investing in Sustainable Packaging

Millennials and Gen Z demand beauty products with sustainable ingredients, eco-friendly packaging and a positive impact on the environment. The has the power to drive this shift and are willing to support brands that align with their values. Companies that fail to meet consumer demands risk losing shelf space and distribution.

The cosmetics industry is one of the largest users of plastic packaging, a majority of which is not recycled. Leading beauty brands have set bold sustainability goals such as L’Oreal committing to using 50% of its plastic packaging in 2025 made from bio-sourced or recycled materials.

The beauty industry is also embracing the concept of sustainable entrepreneurship, which refers to business practices that consider economic performance and environmental and social responsibility. Brands like Aveda, Dr. Bronner’s and Klorane have reduced greenhouse gas emissions in their supply chains by reducing energy usage and creating lighter, more compact packaging. Other brands have reworked packaging formats for a reduction in virgin resin and incorporated material alternatives that are less damaging to the environment, like post-consumer recycled plastics.

4. Investing in Sustainable Ingredients

The beauty industry is expected to reach $511 billion in 2021, and a growing segment of consumers are demanding sustainability from their favorite brands. As a result, more and more companies are embracing sustainable practices.

Consumers want to support sustainable products, and they are willing to pay more for them. To meet these needs, beauty retailers must provide easy-to-understand sustainable claims on their product packaging and include ingredient lists that are fully transparent.

Millennials and Gen Z are driving this shift, as they prioritize companies that are both eco-friendly and people-friendly. They want beauty brands to be transparent about their sustainability efforts and use ethically sourced ingredients. They also demand that beauty brands reduce carbon emissions, use recycled materials, and create reusable products. By working with suppliers to encourage innovation from a people- and planet-centric perspective, beauty retailers can attract and retain these consumers. Ultimately, this benefits both the beauty industry and society as a whole.


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