A new tide of regulation coupled with public expectation for safe and sustainable chemicals and products will create both substantial opportunities and new risks for the cosmetics and personal care industries, according to TSG Consulting.
Sue Bullock, who leads the UK firm’s chemical compliance, stewardship and sustainability team, said the focus on ‘safer’ products has been sharpening since the EU introduced ground-breaking chemicals regulations in 2006.
As the pace of change is set to quicken, brands that prepare well are best placed to prosper.
Companies already rely on growing teams of experts to make sure their products can be used safely and in accordance with legislation, whether they manufacture and sell feedstocks, pesticides or consumer goods.
However, Bullock (pictured) believes a different mindset and smarter toolbox are needed to successfully address the ambitious requirements for product safety and sustainability expected under the EU Green Deal and similar initiatives around the world.
“When people think about sustainability, carbon reduction is often the first thing that comes to mind, but product composition is at the crux of this issue.
“Choices about the chemicals and materials used in products determine their impact on health and the environment, their performance and, ultimately, their marketability. Options need to be thoroughly assessed, and decisions – including uncertainties and tensions – must be explained effectively and credibly.”
Bullock believes businesses benefit from a strategic, pragmatic approach to prioritise concerns relating to chemical use then make informed decisions to realise greatest net benefit to the planet and business resilience.
“Most businesses have sustainability commitments in place, and now they need to set about achieving them. This is where things start to get difficult.
“When you lift the hood on any individual chemical or product, you’re often faced with a highly complex set of issues. Expertise is needed to evaluate options, which could mean moving to a safer alternative, or preparing evidence to demonstrate the relative impact on human health and the environment of one chemical over others.”
Increasingly, this involves work deep within companies and their value chains, helping to effectively communicate progress to stakeholders, from investors to customers.
Bullock says the key is futureproofing ‘safe and sustainable’ products and ensuring they have a robust evidence base to support sustainability claims and reporting.
“Understanding, then acting on, sustainability issues related to chemical ingredients requires deep technical expertise.
“Everything is interconnected, and much of the time there are trade-offs and compromises to be made. This in turn can reveal opportunities for meaningful improvement and sustainability-led innovation.
“When you combine scientific insight, regulatory understanding and innovation best practice it’s possible to make significant gains.”