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.


Download our new think piece


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 October 2015

This December, we will convene a new leadership group – made up of members from across the value chain including retailers, product manufacturers and chemical companies - to steer the beauty and personal care sector toward producing better and more sustainable products for consumers.

This follows a year of intensive work with stakeholders, beginning last September with the BPC Products Sustainability Summit, to diagnose the challenges and opportunities in the beauty and personal care industry and recommend how to best collaborate to deliver more sustainable products on shelves.

We have also published a new think piece report, Driving the Big Shift to Sustainability, to share our insights from the process of bringing diverse stakeholders together to achieve widespread change.

Based on our year-long system diagnosis, the think piece identifies two key recommendations to accelerate sustainability in the industry:

  1. Convening a leadership group to ‘connect the dots’ between existing and new industry initiatives on sustainability in order to ensure maximum impact
  2. Developing collaborative measures to bring new sustainable ingredients to market more quickly

The leadership group coming together in December will lead efforts to connect industry sustainability and innovation efforts, in order to rapidly and effectively build on the momentum of the project. The group will also work to address a critical gap by accelerating the route to market for new product ingredients, beginning with preservatives.

We are looking forward to continuing this work, and feel confident that our thorough, participatory system diagnosis has helped us propose a path forward that most effectively leverages existing work, fills gaps, and presses key levers that will spark broad, lasting change toward sustainability in the beauty and personal care industry.

To download the think piece, please click here, and to learn more about this ongoing work, and how to get involved if you are a value chain representative, continue to check the webpage for updates or get in touch with Forum for the Future at


Latest news 14 May 2015

Over the past few weeks, we have developed a set of recommendations for the Accelerator (including the vision, goals, structure, and activities). These have been developed by building on discussions at the BPC Summit in September 2014, holding many conversations with industry stakeholders, and convening a two-day session in March with leaders from across the beauty and personal care value chain.

We envision that these recommendations are for the industry as a whole to carry forward. With that in mind, we are now beginning a process of sharing our recommendations with industry stakeholders to explore feasibility and create a more detailed plan for short- and long-term implementation. We are also working with other initiatives and organizations that are in the beauty and personal care sustainability space, to ensure that our recommendations will meet the project’s objectives of building on, complementing, and accelerating efforts that are already underway.

Our recommendations address several of the key barriers to sustainability in the industry that we’ve identified through our work to date. Specifically, we are exploring opportunities to:

  • increase sustainable products in the marketplace by incentivizing commercialization of alternative ingredients,
  • provide a space for value chain leaders and other stakeholders to come together to discuss criteria to evaluate these new ingredients,
  • and bring together a cross-industry leadership group to advise on, guide, and find complementarities between ongoing efforts to tackle system barriers in the beauty and personal care industry.

We are excited to see a real plan taking shape; one that we believe will be widely supported while driving real sustainable change in the industry. Thank you for your ongoing interest and engagement, and we will continue to share updates in the coming weeks.


Latest news 7 April 2015

We are continuing to work with value chain stakeholders on scoping the new Beauty and Personal Care (BPC) Innovation Accelerator. On 24-25 March we convened stakeholders from across the beauty and personal care industry for a more detailed exploration of the three potential workstreams identified last autumn at the BPC Product Sustainability Summit. At these meetings we shared our research, analysis, and learnings to date with participants, who offered feedback and insights. Their input will now be integrated, along with additional stakeholder input, research, and analysis, into Forum’s final recommendations for the industry which will be shared in May.

Read our latest update.


Latest news 26 January 2015

We now have a clear way forward on the BPC Innovation Accelerator. Summit Working Group participants will work with Forum for the Future and representatives from Target and Walmart from now through April 2015 to refine the scope of each workstream and set out a plan for the BPC Innovation Accelerator as a whole. Input will initially be solicited from a wide group of industry stakeholders via email and phone interviews, and working group participants will then be invited to an in-person convening in early March to offer feedback on the proposed plan for their respective workstream.

For more information, click here.


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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