The idea of innovation captivates business leaders and sustainability advocates alike. As global trends — environmental, social, political, technological — continue to shift the foundations of our current business models, incremental innovation will become less effective in enabling companies, industries and whole economies to adapt and succeed. There is an urgent need for fundamentally different approaches to value creation within companies, brands, and organizations. Sustainability is a great place to start.
Sustainability will have lasting effects that will drive to protect the beauty of the environment as well as the value of an organization. In ecology, sustainability is the capacity to endure; it is how biological systems remain diverse and productive indefinitely. In more general terms, sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes. Due to significant cost savings and the ability to reuse resources, sustainability is a priority interest for many organizations, particularly in the Health and Beauty industry where byproducts, such as the ethanol used to make perfumes, are capable of being reused to create commodities such as renewable fuel.
Why Is Sustainability Important?
The most negative environmental impact is due to the use of our resources without an outlined design for the output. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 committed the United States to sustainability, declaring it a national policy “to create and maintain conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.” In the years since NEPA was enacted, the public’s interest in sustainability has broadened, and now encompasses sustainable manufacturing practices.
Sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products through economically sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources. Sustainable manufacturing also enhances employee, community and product safety.
A growing number of companies are treating “sustainability” as an important objective in their strategy and operations to increase growth and global competitiveness. This trend has reached well beyond the small niche of those who traditionally positioned themselves as “green,” and now includes many prominent businesses across many different industry sectors. In many cases, these efforts are having significant results.
There are a number of reasons why companies are pursuing sustainability:
- Increase operational efficiency by reducing costs and waste
- Respond to or reach new customers and increase competitive advantage
- Protect and strengthen brand and reputation and build public trust
- Build long-term business viability and success
- Respond to regulatory constraints and opportunities
Companies engaged in sustainability efforts include those of all sizes, ages and sectors. (www.epa.gov/sustainability). Organizations like Nestle and Wal-Mart, are making sustainability part of how they buy and sell merchandise around the world. In doing so, they’re taking a leading role in addressing the most important issues facing the consumer goods industry, helping their suppliers create a more resilient supply chain and delivering the 3 “R’s” of sustainability – reduce, reuse and recycle. (http://corporate.walmart.com/global-responsibility/sustainability/ )
How the Beauty Industry is Cleaning up
Sustainability is a major concern within the cosmetics and toiletries industry with companies across the spectrum pursuing more environmentally friendly initiatives. Beauty companies have historically received much criticism for unethical and non-environmentally friendly business practices that include animal testing, unsustainable sourcing and chemical pollution.
According to Organic Monitor, the beauty industry is cleaning up its image by investing in a raft of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) & sustainability initiatives. However, pressure from consumers, the media and retailers such as Wal-Mart with its Sustainability Index, cosmetic and ingredient companies are making progress in becoming ‘good corporate citizens’.
From natural cosmetics firm Burt’s Bees to global giant Unilever, from premium brand Nuxe to mass market brand Ushuaïa (both of which have launched organic lines), the entire beauty industry seems to be jumping on the green bandwagon. Even ultra-chic brands, such as La Prairie and Chantecaille seem to be concerned about protecting our planet. While La Prairie is giving EUR 1 to the Ocean Features Society for each sale of its Advanced Marine Biology Cream, Chantecaille is donating 5% of sales from its La Baleine make-up collection to The International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Packaging is receiving much interest because of its high environmental footprint; many cosmetic companies are looking at packaging reduction. For instance, Caudalie has saved 7.6 tons of paper by simply printing instructions on the inside of packaging instead of leaflets. Lush has gone further by offering 55% of its products with no packaging at all, while Aveda uses PET bottles made of 100% Post-Consumer Regrind (PCR) content.
Several beauty companies, especially large multinationals, are taking a holistic approach to sustainability that enables them to tackle various issues simultaneously. Such companies are lowering the environmental impact of their cosmetic products by using greener formulations, reducing packaging and also cutting greenhouse gas emissions, waste, energy & water consumption; they are also looking at social dimensions, such as ethical supply chains and corporate philanthropy. These efforts are being acknowledged: L’Oréal was listed in the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World in 2008 and 2009. Avon Products, Procter & Gamble, Estée Lauder Companies and Colgate-Palmolive were all in the top 40 of Newsweek 2009 Green Rankings, an environmental ranking of America’s 500 largest corporations. (Source: http://www.organicmonitor.com/r1805.htm)
Various ways exist for organizations to address the economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainability. The industry can make a difference in terms of ingredients, formulations, packaging, CSR, operations, and green marketing.
The Beauty Marketplace was fortunate enough to encounter a company that works with Health and Beauty companies to become more sustainable. Premiere Facility Management based in Woodland Park, NJ, studies the underlying problems that companies encounter in an attempt to become sustainable, and creates technologies that help maintain those processes. Ranked by Waste Recycling & News magazine as one of the largest U.S. and Canadian companies based revenue from the collection, processing, and sale of recyclables which lists Premiere at $5.5M in 2012. Bob Frustaci, President of Premiere says, “our business works with companies who have to deal with waste, excess inventory and other unused materials on a daily basis”.
For more information on pursuing more environmentally friendly initiatives, please feel free to reach out and tell us about your company: firstname.lastname@example.org
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