The challenge

Beauty and personal care products are a particular area of interest to many stakeholders engaged in sustainability issues. But although many of the key players within the sector want to create wide-reaching change, they are often coming from different starting points and not working together to achieve solutions. Consumer groups and NGOs, for example, are interested in the issues surrounding the environmental and social impacts of product use, whereas retailers and manufacturers want to develop more sustainable products but are reaching the limits of what they can do alone.

To date, a lot of the work on product sustainability has been done by individual companies, and as a result there are a lot of different initiatives and approaches, which is ultimately confusing to the consumer. Forum for the Future believes there is an opportunity for harmonization within the sector; a view which has been bolstered by Target and Walmart's unprecedented willingness to show how working together can unlock new opportunities.

 

The Summit

On 4 September 2014, Target and Walmart co-hosted the Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability Summit in Chicago, USA. The daylong event, convened by Forum for the Future, brought together key players from across the beauty and personal care industries to accelerate a conversation about product sustainability. The aim was to map the landscape in which companies and organizations are operating, explore common concerns and identify where stakeholders can bring better options to consumers. Click here to see what was on the agenda and to view the full list of delegates and facilitators.

Read the report

This report has been put together following the summit to summarize the process and share the results of the landmark event.

 

Latest news 10 November 2014

Since the summit, we have been investigating the nine innovation ideas that emerged, focusing on areas where pre-competitive work with more than one player in the wider system will create the most sustainability benefits, and checking that they are not duplicating existing efforts.

Of the nine ideas coming out of the summit, we are taking three forward (two of which combine two of the original nine ideas, so in effect, a total of five). We have scheduled a teleconference call for interested summit delegates as follows:

  • Streamlined information-sharing across the value chain (13 November)
  • Science-based assessment criteria for evaluating product sustainability (14 November)
  • Pre-competitive development of new preservatives (17 November).

You can read more about these priority areas, and the ideas here.

As each idea is developed and taken forward, the ambition is that it will be adopted and driven by different players in the supply chain in order to drive sustainable innovation and benefit all the players and customers.

We will provide an update on those teleconference calls and next steps on this page on 18 November 2014.

Regarding the remaining four ideas from the summit that we are not actively pursuing at this stage:

  • Simplifying waste: We identified the Closed Loop Fund as already very active in this area and therefore best placed to pursue it further
  • Water use app: We found similar apps already available and decided this idea was not one that most needed a joint approach
  • Consumer labelling: This idea cannot be actioned without the development of common data and assessment that would underpin it (and which the first two priorities aim to address). So we may return to this idea later.
  • Consumer Insights: This idea is currently being refined and we are exploring ways to move it forward.

 

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