Henkel, L’Oréal, LVMH, Natura &Co, and Unilever announce a new global collaboration to co-develop an industry-wide environmental impact assessment and scoring system for cosmetics products. The aim is to co-design an approach that is brand-agnostic, and which provides consumers with clear, transparent and comparable environmental impact information, based on a common science-based methodology. They are inviting other cosmetics companies to join them in this pursuit.
Addressing the demand for greater transparency
The new assessment and scoring system will aim to meet growing consumer demand for greater transparency about the environmental impact of cosmetics products (formula, packaging and usage). The objective is to improve the information that is available to consumers and enable them to make more sustainable consumption choices.
To do this, a consortium will be created that is open to all cosmetics companies wishing to join and contribute to designing a system that allows consumers to compare cosmetics products within the same category. The ambition is for the overall score to inform consumers of the environmental impact of products, taking into account their whole product life cycle.
Co-building a scientific methodology and scoring system
It is proposed that the consortium works with sustainability consultancy Quantis to ensure a robust and scientific approach and that efforts to co-build the voluntary assessment methodology and scoring system are guided by and articulated around:
- A common method for measuring environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of products, backed by the principles of the “Product Environmental Footprint” (the European Union’s PEF scientific method for quantifying the environmental footprint of products).
- A common database of environmental impacts of standard ingredients and raw materials used in formulas and packaging, as well as during product usage.
- A common tool that enables each brand to calculate the environmental impact of individual products, usable by non-experts.
- A harmonized scoring system, for example using a score ranging from A to E, that enables the consumer to easily compare products. The methodology, data base, tool and scoring system will be verified by independent parties.
Engaging all players in the cosmetics sector
This global initiative is intended to be open to all cosmetics companies, regardless of their size or resources. Other stakeholders will be informed and consulted throughout the process. The convening five companies will pool their experience and knowledge in developing environmental impact assessment methodologies (as is the case for Henkel, LVMH, Natura &Co, and Unilever) and an environmental and social labelling system (as developed by L’Oréal). All companies will benefit from this pre-existing work and are invited to contribute their own experience. The consortium will also be consulting with external experts, including scientists, academics and NGOs to ensure the ongoing integrity of the approach. The work developed by the consortium will be published and made accessible on a strictly voluntary basis by both consortium participants and all other interested parties.
“It is possible for the cosmetics sector, as has happened in other sectors, to build a scientific environmental impact assessment of their products, based on a full life cycle assessment. It requires a cross-industry pooling of knowledge and expertise, particularly concerning the environmental impact data; this is exactly what the consortium founding members are embarking on.” Philippe Osset, expert in the application of life cycle assessment to eco-design, consultant providing expertise for the European Commission and AFNOR (Association française de normalisation, French Standardization Association).
Cosmetics Europe has been actively following the process; other industry associations are being contacted to join the consortium.