The second Asia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit aims to tackle some of the major ethical and ecological issues facing the Asian cosmetics industry. Major topics on the two-day agenda include sustainable packaging, alternatives to animal testing methods, green formulations, environmental impacts, halal cosmetics, and ayurveda in cosmetics. Organised by Organic Monitor, the summit will be hosted in Hong Kong on Nov. 12-13; it comprises two workshops and a detailed seminar programme.
Research shows the highest environmental footprint of cosmetics is from product formulations and packaging. To address these issues, the summit begins with two workshops on green ingredients and sustainable packaging. The workshop leaders will look at the growing palette of green ingredients available to formulators, as well as the range of sustainable packaging options.
A detailed seminar programme focuses on sustainability topics pertinent to Asia. The controversial subject of animal testing for cosmetic products will be discussed by Anthony E. James from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Many Asian countries are under growing pressure to ban animal testing for cosmetic products. The Chinese authorities demand cosmetics and ingredients only be tested on animals; this stance has prevented ethical brands like The Body Shop to enter the mainland Chinese market.
With Muslim consumers comprising almost a third of the Asian population, there is growing demand for halal-certified cosmetics. Sarifah Rejab from the Malaysian company Sirim Berhad discusses the halal cosmetics standard and labelling scheme. Another paper by Albert Leung from Hong Kong Cosmetic Technical Resources Centre looks at the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in cosmetic applications. With over a 2,000 year old history, TCM is an integral part of Chinese culture. His paper looks at the use of Chinese ingredients in modern cosmetics for skin treatments, healing and general well-being.
Also in the Sustainability in Practice session, a leading Japanese cosmetics firm states how it is meeting the sustainability challenge by reducing its environmental impacts. Implemented in 2009, Kao’s ‘Eco Together’ programme involves changing cosmetic formulations, using green technologies, reducing product packaging, and implementing energy and waste management programmes.
A growing number of green cosmetic brands are targeting the Asian market, however research shows distribution is a major obstacle to market entry. To help overcome this obstacle, the Distribution Best-Practices session highlights possible entry routes. The use of concept stores is discussed by a leading natural cosmetics company. An Australian organic skincare brand highlights the opportunities offered in premium channels, such as department stores and beauty retailers. Another paper looks at the growing LOHAS consumer base in Asia, which is stimulating demand for green products.
Apart from the half-day workshop, a number of seminars cover methods to reduce the packaging footprint of cosmetic products. Compared to other regions, very few Asian brands have taken steps to reduce their packaging impacts. Dr. Karli Verghese from RMIT University, Australia, will explore the various ways cosmetic companies can adapt their packaging for sustainability. Other speakers will look at the use of new design approaches and green materials to overcome the sustainable packaging conundrum.
Judi Beerling, Head of Technical Research at Organic Monitor, will undertake a workshop on formulating with green preservatives, emulsifiers and surfactants. With many Asian brands struggling to formulate natural and organic cosmetics, the workshop highlights the green alternatives to parabens, SLS, SLES and other synthetic materials in cosmetic formulations. Seminars in the Green Ingredients session cover advances in natural ingredients, and the pitfalls of formulating organic skincare products for Asian consumers. Dr. Arunasiri Iddamalgoda from the Japanese company Inchimaru Pharcos will discuss the challenges of extracting actives from Asian herbs, using neem as a case study. Described as the ‘ayurveda’s tree of life’ in India, neem is renowned for its medicinal and health properties. However, like many Asian herbs and plant materials, few have crossed over into cosmetic applications.