Cosmetics: New Rating System Should Drive Sustainability

A U.S. non-profit organization, The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) and retail companies Walmart and Target have published a rating system for the personal care industry that they developed as part of a joint project with other partners. The point system, an industry scorecard, should help manufacturers develop sustainable and safe products.

The core of the rating system consists of 32 key performance indicators that are divided into four areas:

  • Human health impact of ingredients and product formulations
  • Resource usage and emissions during sourcing, manufacturing and product use
  • Ingredient disclosure to consumers
  • Environmental and health impacts of packaging

Most of the points (130 of 400) are awarded in the human health cluster, which covers the ingredients of cosmetics and the related safety concerns. For example, companies win points when their products do not contain anything that appears in one of the pertinent lists of hazardous substances, such as the Californian Prop 65 list of substances suspected of causing cancer, the EU priority list of endocrine disruptors, and the list of carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic to reproduction (CMR) substances in Annex XVII of REACH. Companies win extra points when an independent third-party certifies their products as featuring quality and enhanced safety.

As early as three years ago, Walmart, Target, and the non-profit Forum for the Future (FFTF) began work on the rating system project as part of the 2014 beauty and personal care (BPC) product sustainability summit. They were later joined by other organization, including Henkel, Johnson & Johnson, and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

Many retail groups welcome the rating system. Along with Walmart and Target, retailers CVS Health, Sephora, and Walgreens want to develop their own systems on this foundation. “We believe that, over time, this tool will be valuable in both evaluating the sustainability of the products we sell at CVS Pharmacy and increasing the availability of sustainable products more broadly,“ said Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president of corporate social responsibility and philanthropy at CVS Health in an article in greenBiz.

The retail companies noted here hope that other companies will follow their lead, especially companies that are more active in e-commerce business. TSC wants to use 2018 as a year of continuous development of the rating system, says TSC’s CEO, Euan Murray.

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