Sustainable sourcing tops Asian cosmetics summit agenda

Sustainable sourcing tops Asian cosmetics summit agenda

Although Asia has become an international source of cosmetic ingredients, the ecological price has been high.

Ethical sourcing and biodiversity will be featured in the third Asia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit (, hosted in Hong Kong Nov. 11 to 13. By casting the spotlight on the environmental impact of cosmetic ingredients, the summit aims to raise awareness and encourage sustainable sourcing in the region.

Rapid economic development and industrialization have had a heavy toll on Asian ecosystems. Asia has lost 95 percent of its primary, uncut forests, whilst individual countries have lost 70 to 90 percent of their natural habitats. Although the region has become an international source of cosmetic ingredients, the ecological price has been high. Production of palm oil—a ubiquitous ingredient in personal care products—has been directly responsible for the destruction of rainforests in Southeast Asia, putting many animal and plant species to near extinction. Many cosmetic ingredients are produced in Asia by expanding agricultural frontiers to virgin terrain.

Dr. Muhammed Majeed, founder of international ingredients firm Sabinsa, will set the tone for the summit with his opening keynote on sustainable sourcing. He will explain why a major ethical dilemma Asian countries face is “economic advancement or conservation.” With Asia experiencing unprecedented economic growth, some argue that environmental degradation has been a worthwhile price to pay for rising prosperity. Proceeding speakers will give best-practices in raw material ethical sourcing, showing how economic and ecological development can be intertwined. The use of biodiversity charters and sourcing programs will also be debated.

Novel green ingredients, especially those originating from Asia, will also be featured. The healing properties of Ayurvedic ingredients like neem and amla in cosmetic products will be highlighted. Another paper looks at the use of traditional Chinese herbs in modern skincare products. Dr. Fred Zuelli from Mibelle Biochemistry will discuss the sustainable harvesting of actives from agricultural raw material. Other topics include marine ingredients, emerging natural actives, and sustainable processing methods.

Although the cosmetics industry has become global, divisions are occurring in terms of regulations and standards. Most fragmentation is occurring in Asia where major country markets have different interpretations of cosmetic products. For the first time, the summit will give an update on the legislative framework for cosmetic products in Europe, the U.S. and Asian countries. Details will be given of new EU regulations, which are increasingly perceived as a barrier to market entry by non-European brands. Other papers will look at the mushrooming of green standards, such as natural, organic, fair trade, and green spa.

The three-day program ends with two interactive workshops. A technical workshop will tackle the formulation issues associated with natural and organic cosmetics. A marketing workshop will highlight the opportunities provided to cosmetic brands by social media and digital marketing. Conducted by David Liem, founder of Happy Marketer, the workshop will show how social media can be used to provide transparency and authenticity to increasingly discerning consumers.


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