Asian cosmetics summit highlights sustainability issues

Packaging and testing were key topics discussed

The recent Asia-Pacific Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, organised by Organic Monitor, and held in Hong Kong recently highlighted the fact that the Asian cosmetics industry needs to raise the bar when it comes to sustainability. The region is apparently lagging in many ethical and ecological areas, such as alternatives to animal testing, ecological packaging and green formulations, as well as in consumer education.

Sustainable packaging for cosmetics products is a key area the industry needs to address and it seems that very few Asian brands are taking steps to reduce the environmental footprint of their packaging. Grace Culhaci from Pure and Green Organics shared her difficulties in finding sustainable packaging solutions, stating that most packaging companies are disinterested in supplying sustainable materials.

The growing importance of the region as a whole was highlighted by Sam McKay, ceo of Jurlique, while speaking at the conference. He said: “Asia has become our number one focus as a region. All the big brands are looking at Asia making it difficult for us to get listings and build distribution.”

One major challenge for Western natural and organic brands in Asia is low consumer understanding of green issues with many brands resorting to opening concept stores so they can engage directly with consumers.

In other news, with some ethical cosmetics brands unable to enter the Chinese market because of its animal testing methods, alternative methods of testing were also discussed at the summit. Anthony E James from the Chinese University of Hong Kong said that China was falling behind many Asian countries that are now using alternative testing methods. International trade – rather than pressure from NGOs and consumer groups – could force China to accept alternative methods however.

The next Asia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit aims to look at ways of raising consumer awareness of green and sustainability issues in the region. It will take place next year in Hong Kong, from 11-12 November.