Despite the momentum of the sustainability movement underway, there is still much progress that needs to be made. Here, some of our industry insiders share the challenges that stand in the way of creating transformational change.
“While most companies recognize they need to be doing something, there is a gap between understanding and doing. Our industry is simply not sure how to confidently move toward sustainability. We are habituated to the ways we live and do business, and stepping outside that formula is uncomfortable. Businesses can implement sustainable practices by starting with the obvious—plastic water bottles and straws—and move toward the more complex energy and water issues. We also need research that ties sustainable business practices to return on investment. We at GSN Planet have been working on developing these case studies, but we need a larger effort that gets more play in the media.”—Joanna Roche, executive director, GSN Planet
“There is a dual challenge of both innovating and effectively communicating our work to our customers. For example, how do you explain the complexities and advantages of closed-loop manufacturing on the back of a small hanger? Fortunately, I think our community is more curious than ever, and together, we can set a high standard for the products we enjoy.”—Sara Irvani, CEO, Oka-B
“Packaging and ingredients that don’t pollute the environment are the main sustainability challenge. The plastic pollution triggered by the beauty industry represents 120 billion units of packaging, most of them not recyclable. On the ingredients side, thanks to the clean beauty movement, new standards are being established and some ingredients that are highly polluting to the environment are slowly disappearing.”—Valérie Grandury, founder, Odacité
“I think it would be amazing if we could actually have some updated regulation in this country when it comes to the safety of ingredients in our products. That, to me, is the number-one priority. The other challenge is the packaging issue, because the Environmental Protection Agency came out and reported that one-third of the landfill waste is from the beauty industry.”—Tiila Abbitt, founder, Aether Beauty
“Availability of raw materials that are conducive to use within spas. Whether it’s skincare, uniforms, or equipment, we have two critical areas to consider: the materials and then the end of their lifecycle. Designing for a circular economy is a massive worldwide challenge that will take years to solve through innovation and collaboration. Perhaps equally challenging is the mindset of consumers. Will they pay for the added costs of sustainable products and practices?”—Noel Asmar, founder and CEO, Noel Asmar Group
“When it comes to the biggest sustainability challenges facing beauty product manufacturers today, product packaging, store displays, and ingredient sourcing are at the top of the list.”—Romain Gaillard, founder and CEO, The Detox Market