Caring for future generations
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Sustainability covers all the activities that ensure a company, its staff and the community have a successful future in a world in which people are proud to live. It is not simple and it is different for every company. It cannot be described easily but is widely recognised as being important for the long term success of the cosmetics industry, its staff and the countries where they live and work.
Here, we try to explain why it is important and why it is so hard to understand. We explain what activities contribute to sustainability, their benefits and problems, and give examples which show how difficult it is to make the right decision when faced with conflicting and competing ideas
Note: the term ‘cosmetics’ is used to describe all cosmetic, toiletry and perfumery products such as shampoos & conditioners, skin creams and lotions, deodorants and antiperspirants, toothpastes and mouth washes, hair colorants, make-up and fragrance.
What is sustainability?
Sustainability is about creating a balance between the economic, environmental and social aspects of business to ensure a company is successful now and in the future. A company must:
- manage, train and develop its staff so that people want to work there;
- develop its business and make a profit. If it fails to do this, the company has no real future;
- remain a successful part of the community in which it operates, providing jobs and paying its taxes; and
- reduce its effects on the environment so that our children are left with a healthy world in which to live, work and play.
When we talk about sustainability, we usually look at environmental effects such as how much energy is used, how much water, how much waste is produced, and what damage is caused obtaining raw materials and turning them into cosmetic ingredients and products.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
While it is always sensible to reduce our energy use and packaging waste, many more issues must be addressed as well if we want to be truly sustainable. Because of this wide scope, which includes issues such as ethics, corruption, fair trading and competition law, the term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is often used instead of sustainability.
A Sustainability Plan
To put sustainability into practice, each company must look at its business and identify those areas and activities where action can be taken to ensure a balance is met between the economic, environmental and social aspects of business. These ideas must be developed into a working plan, with timescales and targets, and communicated throughout the company. As with all business plans, it will only work if everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Sustainability & the Cosmetics Industry
Cosmetic products play an essential role in everyone’s life. Each day, 450 million Europeans use a variety of cosmetic products such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, shaving cream, skin care, cleanser, perfume, make-up, etc. Our products not only help with personal hygiene; for most people, using cosmetics improves their self-esteem and self-confidence.
The cosmetics industry as a whole provides jobs for over 500,000 people in Europe and our industry is regarded as the best in the world. We have a good reputation for research and development, constantly producing new ingredients with proven benefits, which are transformed into the sorts of products people want.
We take the environment seriously, always looking for better ways to make our products, using less materials and energy. All large companies, and many smaller ones, produce a report every year showing how their work on sustainability is progressing.
And the industry as a whole supports the cancer charity Look Good…Feel Better, working at cancer hospitals or cancer care centres across the UK. This cancer support charity helps women manage the visible and emotional side effects of cancer treatment through the use of cosmetic products, boosting confidence and well-being.