Spreading Clean Beauty

How to choose the right sustainable cosmetic supplier

Demand for eco-friendly BPC products is strong and the industry is responding. However, there is still room for growth: consumers need more education and evidence that some products are more sustainable than others. Meanwhile, consumers are looking beyond claims on labels and conducting their own research about brands’ sustainable credentials. This means brands will be under more pressure to demonstrate their eco-ethical practices throughout the supply chain, from ingredients to their cosmetic supplier.

Demand for more quantifiable evidence is set to rise in line with the growing demand for more eco-friendly products. According to a new report from UEBT, 82% of consumers believe that brands have a moral obligation to ensure they have a positive impact on people and biodiversity – but meanwhile, just 42% are confident companies are actually paying serious attention to ethical sourcing.

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Consumers buying into green beauty will want proof that what their buying is better for the environment, especially if they’re paying more. However, they are willing to do this – right now, nearly a quarter of American women agree that they are willing to pay more for products with sustainable ingredients (Mintel, 2019). Therefore, it is essential that BPC brands seize this opportunity.

What to look for in an eco-friendly cosmetic supplier

A fully sustainable product range begins with choosing the right cosmetic supplier. Cosmetic manufacturers will have supply chains of their own, so in order to choose the right partner, the brand should assess five key eco-ethical criteria: the sourcing of their ingredients; the efficiency and sustainability of their production processes; water consumption and management; energy consumption; and their waste management policy.

Ingredients sourcing

The roots of an ethical and sustainable supply chain begin with raw materials. A cosmetic supplier should source ingredients in a way that conveys biological diversity while sharing access and the benefits of the world’s natural resources. A good reference point is the seven principles of BioTrade, which outline the regulations and permits necessary for sustainable ingredient sourcing.  

Sustainable and efficient production processes

A sustainable cosmetic supplier will be constantly working towards making their production processes more streamlined. This is measured via the year-on-year improvement of environmental indicators, including the consumption of water, fuel, electricity, and the CO2 and waste generated per kilo of product produced. Naturally, brands should particularly look to work with a cosmetic supplier that is actively working to reduce their overall energy consumption. Another key indicator is the proportion of renewables they use compared to fossil fuels.

Water consumption and management

Water is a critical natural resource and its conservation is integral to sustainable production practices. According to Water Aid, in 2016 around 3.6 billion people lived in water-scarce areas, and this number is expected to increase to around 5 billion by 2050. Considering the industry’s intensive water usage, brands should look for cosmetic manufacturers that conserve water. For instance, Provital has reduced water consumption per kilo of product produced by more than 40% over the last six years. 

Waste management and a circular economy

The cosmetics industry should strive towards a circular economy. Many byproducts from sourcing and production processes have the potential to be re-used or upcycled – and considering their potential value, this is an opportunity that cosmetics manufacturers should seize. Currently, Provital processes 70% of its waste in line with circular economy principles.

Holding cosmetic manufacturers to account

Consumers are becoming increasingly inquisitive about ingredient sourcing and production methods. Currently, 47% of American women say they are paying more attention to the ingredients used in their beauty products than they were a year ago, making it increasingly important for brands to be clear about the ingredients and processes they are using and why (Mintel, 2019). This highlights the growing investment consumers have in holding cosmetic manufacturers to account; therefore, choosing the right partner for production is essential.

Provital positions itself as a truly sustainable supplier. With our close attention to reducing our environmental impact and investment in distinctive biodiversity products, Provital is a cosmetic supplier that ethical beauty brands can trust. As members of UEBT and a holder of various independent natural and ethical accreditations, Provital’s practices facilitate the full supply chain transparency consumers demand. As the demand for green beauty rises, Provital remains ahead of the curve.

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