Navigating environmental claims in personal care ingredients

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Ethical attributes are on the rise and are in close link to the personal care industry. Consumers are actively seeking “environmentally friendly products”, and per Mintel cleansing products with related claims, have increased in the past year by over 20%.[1]

From cruelty-free and vegan to biodiversity protection and water conservation – cosmetic producers and raw material manufacturers are now taking these aspects into account as part of the product development process.

There are many environmental aspects that can and should be taken into account, and at the same time, there are still many vague definitions. One statement used often is “Sustainable” for raw material.  sustainability is harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged[2]. When it comes to raw materials, while many are non-renewable, there are bio-based alternatives that are from renewable sources.

The renewable carbon index is an important tool to assess how renewable the carbon sources of each ingredient. Based on this index, one can determine the percentage of materials that are from non-petroleum-based or derived products, and calculate the percent Renewable Carbon Index (RCI).

Another measurement to evaluate the environmental aspect of raw material is the ingredient’s impact on the environment not only in terms of production or during use – but after. Biodegradability is a key measurement in that respect. A material is considered “Readily Biodegradable” when it has the natural ability to biodegrade to its natural state, when subjected to elements such as water or sunlight, in 28 days. [3]

Several organizations are evaluating and certifying raw materials for their natural origin, such as COSMOS ECOCERT, NATRUE, or providing guidelines, like ISO 16128 with a natural index calculation method. And it is not only the materials we monitor but the companies themselves. Several organizations provide not only information but even ratings, for companies worldwide. By that, they allow companies to set goals and be assessed, and also to choose business partners or suppliers working towards a similar sustainable goal.

CDP is an international, not-for-profit organization providing the only global system for companies to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information.

ECOVADIS is another platform providing evaluation and a scorecard on many aspects of sustainability, and it is widely used by consumer goods brands and raw material suppliers.

While today a lot of the activity is voluntary, the importance is rising, and the demand is coming from the entire value chain – consumer awareness, cosmetic manufacturers, raw material suppliers, and of course – regulatory bodies.

As manufacturers, we are in a strong position to make a difference. As environmental aspects become a dominant part of the product development, from raw materials to packaging, our industry is making progress towards a better, greener, future.

To learn more about our preservative solutions:

SharoSENSE™ Plus 181N  –  Has natural Origin Index ISO 16128 of 99.6% and is environmentally friendly with a renewable carbon index of 99.32%.

SharoSENSE™ Plus 184 is readily biodegradable: Kind to nature and kind to your skin.

Both products come in powder form, easy to process in the formula, and were evaluated and found to be non-irritant and safe to use on skin, face, lips and eye area.

[1] Mintel blog: sustainable soap, bath, shower and body care in 2021 and beyond
[2] Merriam-webster
[3]  https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/environment/test-no-301-ready-biodegradability_9789264070349-en

Written by Naama Eylon, VP Personal Care

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