Creating a More Beautiful and Sustainable Future

Pamela Gill Alabaster
Contributing Writer

Sustainability is certainly on everyone’s mind these days. But what does sustainable really mean? For the cosmetics and personal care products industry, it means many things.

Sustainable products maintain an appropriate balance between their impact on the environment and social and economic value. From the extraction and creation of renewable and fossil fuel derived raw materials, through development and production, packaging and distribution, and finally including the customer experience and end of life disposal, sustainability is a complex and essential industry value.

The cosmetics and personal care products industry is deeply committed to integrating sustainability into their business practices and the products used by millions of consumers who trust and rely on them each day to enhance quality of life.

While these efforts have been underway for many years, the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) released its first-ever sustainability report this month, “Creating a More Beautiful World.” The comprehensive report captures the industry’s commitment to ethical and transparent practices, the responsible management of environmental impacts, as well as the economic and social value of the industry.

Key elements of the report include insights and analysis of industry efforts, including:

  • Supporting a Low Carbon Economy—More than two-thirds of PCPC members actively manage their operations’ energy use and carbon emission. Many companies support the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, have committed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.
  • Water Conservation—Many companies conduct water use analysis and risk assessments to develop strategies to reduce water demand, increase water reuse and address challenges associated with individual water basins. In addition, many companies develop products formulated to use less water.
  • Waste Management—Many of our members work to streamline and ultimately reduce waste in their manufacturing processes, including identifying what can be recycled into new materials or recovered to generate energy, and are committed to sending zero waste to landfills from their manufacturing sites.
  • Product Stewardship—Companies are taking numerous actions to reduce their use of plastic packaging, use more recycled plastic and increase the recyclability of the plastic packaging they use. Additionally, PCPC is part of the Sustainable Packaging Initiative for Cosmetics (SPICE), a coalition of cosmetics companies working together to define guidelines for sustainable packaging.
  • Corporate Citizenship—Per $1 million of sales, the annual charitable contributions from cosmetics and personal care companies are more than double the national average for other major industry sectors. Look Good Feel Better, a public service program that helps individuals with cancer improve their self-esteem and confidence by helping them deal with the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment, has served 2 million women in 27 countries since 1989.

“While we are proud of the efforts individual companies are making in the sustainable management of their businesses, we recognize companies large and small still have more to do,” said Lezlee Westine, president and CEO for the Personal Care Products Council. “Our goal is to work in coalition, together with other like-minded organizations, to help create a more beautiful and sustainable world for us all.”

George Calvert, chairman of the PCPC Board of Directors and chief supply chain officer for Amway reinforces this commitment: “Our constant pursuit of improved sustainability is both good business and good stewardship. For years to come, our collective efforts will advance our industry’s reputation, create new opportunities for our teams, drive growth and make a positive impact on the world.”

So, where do we go from here? As member companies continue to innovate and to lessen the impacts created in the production, packaging and distribution processes, PCPC is redoubling its efforts to bring together members committed to help drive best practices toward a more sustainable future.

Ultimately, sustainability is about the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants. I am so proud to be part of this industry and excited to see where the passion and commitment sustainability takes us.

Pamela Alabaster serves as chief marketing and communications officer for Centric Brands and has been recognized by TriplePundit and Forbes as among the top women in sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. Prior to her role at Centric Brands, Alabaster worked for the beauty industry for more than 25 years.