The environmental footprint of the beauty industry is a substantial one, but a focus on sustainability is now becoming more significant. With the realization that the average salon is using 1,200 gallons of water for each stylist, every single month, it’s clear that changes need to be made. It is not just the water usage, however. Other environmental concerns include carbon emissions, chemical treatments, and plastic packaging. Customers are becoming more environmentally conscious, and expecting the same of their beauty brands. Fortunately, those beauty brands are responding.
Many Brands are Tackling Sustainability Today
Former executive for L’Oreal, Nicolas Krafft, notes that brands such as L’Oreal, Henkel, Kevin Murphy, and Aveda are taking on the challenge of sustainability. Packing and practices are all being changed, to reduce their carbon footprint and show that they understand customer concerns over the environment. As part of a Cambridge University sustainability program, Nicolas Krafft outlined a number of steps that companies were considering. These steps focus primarily on sustainable packaging, conserving water, renewable energy, and the significance of social commitments in the supply chain.
Considering Carbon Emissions
Reducing carbon emissions is one of the biggest issues for beauty brands that have decided to become more environmentally friendly. Signing the pledge for carbon reduction as part of the Paris Agreement was a notable step for a number of large beauty companies such as L’Oreal, Unilever, and Estee Lauder. But smaller brands such as Davines are taking that pledge a step further. The company is committed to achieve complete carbon neutrality by 2030. Already, it has lowered its carbon emissions by nearly 50% to further enforce its commitment to the cause of protecting the climate and the environment.
Another company that is serious in its commitment is Aveda, which is making all of its products with wind power. That allows the company to greatly reduce its natural gas and electric usage, and have a better balance for the planet. While it’s not possible for any current company to avoid carbon emissions entirely, it’s possible for dedicated companies to have carbon neutrality through offsets. Increasing renewable energy all throughout the supply chain is a way to make what these companies are doing even more significant, but this level of change will take more time and effort due to the complexity of the issue.
Water Management and Usage
How much water is being used by the beauty industry is a serious concern for those who are worried about the environment and the dwindling level of resources. Nicolas Krafft understands that there are a number of ways that beauty companies can reduce the level of water they consume. For example, Australian beauty brand Kevin Murphy partnered with Ecoheads to promote a water-reducing faucet in salons. These faucets reduce water usage by as much as 65%, which can be very significant based on the number of stylists across the country and the number of gallons of water they use every month.
Other companies have also partnered up to reduce water usage in salons around the world, saving thousands of gallons. Water consumption in manufacturing has been reduced, as well. Henkel has cut its manufacturing water usage by nearly 30%, and L’Oreal has seen their water use in distribution plants drop by half. Waterless beauty products are also a part of water reduction, with solid, oil, and powder shampoos that don’t require water for use. Water-free cleansing bars and conditioners are also on the rise. Not only do they lower water consumption, but they also reduce the need for so much plastic packaging.
The Problem With Packaging
Beauty product packaging creates a lot of waste. Some cardboard and paper materials are recyclable, but a lot of the plastic is not. Even in areas where plastic is frequently recycled, there are plenty of people who either choose not to recycle or don’t remember to do it consistently. That leads to a lot of issues with packaging ending up in landfills and doing harm to the environment. But companies are making changes in this area, as well, as they dedicate themselves to reducing packaging waste.
In addition to the packaging waste there are promotional materials and chemicals that aren’t biodegradable in the beauty product industry, as well. Every minute, 877 pounds of waste is produced by the industry. Nearly 70% of that waste ends up in the landfill, instead of the recycling center. Now, there is more pressure from consumers to reduce this level of waste and stop filling up landfills with product packaging.
A bit of a friendly competition has begun among many beauty brands, in an effort to see who can reduce the most packaging and keep their products’ needed packaging out of landfills, as well. That is great news for consumers who want more sustainable products, and also for the planet and the environment. One of the biggest focal points for most companies is how to make plastic packaging more sustainable. Nicolas Krafft notes that L’Oreal and other companies are doing this by using recycled materials.
Companies such as Aveda and Kevin Murphy are also choosing this option, which is giving the planet and its oceans a much-needed break from all the packaging waste that was ending up discarded and harming various ecosystems. As an additional commitment, L’Oreal has stated that, by 2025, all of its plastic packaging will be compostable, refillable, recyclable, or reusable. That will cut down on the amount of waste the company produces, making it better for everyone.
What Salons are Doing to Help
Nicolas Krafft, along with other executives in the industry, note that it’s not just about the packaging materials. There’s a larger picture in play, and that’s making sure that salons have what they need to make recycling easy for them. They need access to the recyclable materials and products, and a good way to recycle the products quickly and efficiently. Otherwise, a lot of the product packaging that could be recycled will still end up in landfills because handling it differently is too difficult or time-consuming.
While support is needed for salon workers, salons can already start helping by indicating their willingness and desire to work with brands that are committed to the environment. Salons that begin to switch over to sustainable practices make it easier for their customers to appreciate their goals, and work with them on sustainable practices. It will take time for salons to get everything they need to reduce their carbon footprints significantly, but by working with sustainable beauty brands they can move in that direction faster and more easily.
Who is Nicolas Krafft?
Nicolas Krafft is a former executive for L’Oreal, and has over a decade of beauty industry experience. He launched new lines of products, and helped the company develop an international presence for many of its brands, such as Kérastase, Matrix, and Biolage. Nicolas Krafft also served as the International General Manager for the Pulp Riot brand during his time with L’Oreal, and before that he was the VP of Global Business Development for Matrix. His wealth of experience with larger brands in the beauty industry provided him with invaluable experience and insight into beauty industry practices and the value of making them more sustainable for the long term.