Simplifying Environmental Science for Beauty Consumers

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At press, around 70 stakeholders have joined the EcoBeautyScore (EBS) Consortium, whose purpose is to develop an industry-wide environmental impact assessment and scoring system for cosmetic products.

In this interview, EBS Consortium representatives Felix Bäuerle (FB), sustainability manager product innovation for Beiersdorf, and Laurent Gilbert (LG), Ph.D., sustainable innovation director for L’Oréal, describe why there is a need for this system and the product parameters upon which it is focused. Following is an adapted excerpt.

C&T: Why is there a need to set an assessment and scoring system for the environmental impact of cosmetics? How does this help the consumer?

FB: We in the cosmetics industry see a growing interest from consumers for environmental claims and the topic in general. We want to increase transparency because we have, for a couple of years, been making our products more sustainable and this is a great way to show that on the product level — all the achievements but also where there is more effort needed to achieve a transparent approach based on scientific methods. It is very important that this is science-based, and we’re doing that on the product environmental footprint methodology from the European Union.

We will help consumers, then, by having all those impact factors that pay into the environmental impact of the product translated to a score that ultimately, some day in the future, could be placed on the product itself to really make it easy for them but still science-based.

LG: It is important to use the best of environmental science as it exists today to have a science-based footprinting methodology to assess the environmental impact of cosmetic products — and deliver this information in a simple way. Although environmental science is a complex matter, it has to be simple for consumers to understand it.

C&T: There are many terms in this “eco” space ... sustainable, biodegradable, renewable ... which ones are you focused on and why?

FB: There are many topics that the cosmetics industry is working on but really the goal of the EcoBeautyScore Consortium is to measure environmental impact. So, it’s based on the lifecycle analysis and condensed to a final score.

LG: All the social aspects are not included in it; not to say they are not important — obviously, they are, and they could be the subject of a different kind of communication. But what’s really important is to focus on the environmental measurement.

Watch the complete interview here.

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