Sustainability issues still challenge green cosmetic formulators


Preservation, stability and the environmental impact of green materials are proving to be persistent issues, says Organic Monitor

Organic and natural materials and ingredients used in the manufacture of cosmetics continue to face technical and sustainability issues, according to Organic Monitor.

The company identified that the main issue surrounding organic and natural cosmetic formulations is preservation. This is largely due to the fact that product composition is variable and therefore no specific green material has become popular for preservation, despite many being available on the market. Stability is also identified as a major issue as some green preservative systems can lead to discolouration or odour changes of the product.

Sustainability is also another key issue faced by organic and natural formulators, as the impact of green materials is not always easy to measure. Replacing synthetic ingredients with green alternatives can have undesirable and unintended effects on ecosystems. For example, palm oil, which is commonly used in cosmetic applications, has been responsible for the destruction of tropical rainforests in South-East Asia. Furthermore, there are also concerns over the sustainable sourcing of natural fragrances and food ingredients used in cosmetic applications.

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Organic Monitor cites a major development in tackling these issues to be the use of sustainable processes and extraction techniques, for example harvesting natural actives from plant materials with a lower environmental impact than traditional methods, as seen in AkzoNobel's Zeta Fraction technology, while Mibelle Biochemistry is using plant stem cell technology to extract plant actives.