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Sustainability Accelerating in the Beauty and Personal Care Industry

By Guest Contributor

1 Apr 2021


Of sustainability’s three pillars—economic, environmental and social—much of the beauty industry’s innovation has centered around the environmental pillar. A year after the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, momentum in sustainability has picked up again, coinciding with greater strides in vaccine distribution, the reopening of marketplaces and more optimism for future economic recovery.

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One area of sustainability that has been a focal point for beauty players is refillable packaging. This format has entered new categories such as deodorants, cosmetics and fragrances by helping reduce packaging waste and shipping costs. Consumers in the US are still getting used to the idea of using reusable bags for the grocery store, but consumers in Western Europe, who are in a much more eco-conscious environment, are now seeing innovation in the form of refill stations in retailers like Asda, The Body Shop and Neal’s Yard Remedies.

Another area of focus within the beauty industry has been alternative packaging materials. More brands are looking for alternatives to virgin plastic, which is the most widely used packaging type in beauty. PCR, or post-consumer recycled content, is a big focus right now, as are bio and plant-based formats like sugarcane, cork and bamboo. Beauty brands are also using waste or by-products and making them purposeful in both formulation and packaging. The pandemic and lock-down measures have made some consumers more aware of their environmental impact, which sets the stage for other areas of environmental sustainability like zero-waste packaging, reusing plastic found in oceans, and water-efficient and water-free formulas.

COVID-19 has brought on a new consciousness that goes beyond merely compensating for a company’s negative impact on people and the planet. The pandemic laid bare a humanitarian crisis that has brought the ‘people over profit’ angle into the spotlight. This angle has been more common in skin care categories but has been increasing in other personal care categories as well.

The consensus from beauty companies and Euromonitor survey data suggest that consumers are holding companies accountable to care for their communities. This focus has accelerated during the pandemic and will be a mainstay feature afterwards.

Written and created for FashionUnited by Euromonitor. Explore more fashion-related podcasts by Euromonitor here.

Photo: Pexels