NEWS > 09 February 2024
“Sustainability is a collective effort.” This is a truth that Dr. Elisa Altieri shared with me during our recent interview about how companies on the supply and manufacturing side of the cosmetic industry can realistically help maintain our planet’s ecological balance while doing business.
Altieri works as the Market Manager of Personal Care at ROELMI HPC (and I’ll share more about that ingredient company later in this article). But this idea of collective effort is fundamental to the topic of cosmetic and personal care industry sustainability. It’s a universal truth, something that suppliers, manufacturers, and brands all recognize now.
“Supply chain partnerships are crucial in achieving comprehensive sustainability goals. Collaborative relationships enable the exchange of best practices, knowledge, and resources, creating a network that promotes sustainable practices throughout the industry,” emphasizes Altieri. “By working together with partners who share our values,” she says, “we can collectively address challenges and implement more effective sustainability initiatives.”
The potential of collective effort is what led some 15 industry suppliers and multinational beauty makers to create the Traceability Alliance for Sustainable Cosmetics (TRASCE) in January of this year.
More often than not, the cosmetics and personal care industry supply chain is many layers deep. Ingredient suppliers and packaging companies depend on an array of raw materials, inputs, intermediaries, resources, and component parts, none of which are necessarily from a single source or a fully transparent chain. And seeing through to each of the layers, let alone monitoring and confirming that ethical and environmental practices are in place, is challenging.
As Julien Garry, International Director of Purchasing and Packaging Innovation Development at Chanel Parfums Beauté, told the press last month, “The essential and demanding work of mapping our supply chains carried out in recent years has allowed us to understand the main limits of the exercise.”
He acknowledges that “it is sometimes quite difficult for a single client to convince distant tier suppliers to commit to this process, when we do not exchange directly with them or when they do not meet the same regulatory requirements.”
And it is, “based on this observation,” that the luxury beauty and fragrance company “proposed that the actors of the sector join forces to trace our supply chains as far and as quickly as possible.”
The newly established TRASCE coalition is sponsored by La FEBEA (a Paris, France - based association of cosmetic product manufacturers ) and comprised of CHANEL, Dior, The Estée Lauder Companies, L’Occitane en Provence, L’Oréal Groupe, Nuxe, Shiseido, and Sisley; along with packaging suppliers Albéa, Cosfibel, Pochet Group, and Neyret (ribbons, woven labels, and accessories); and with these ingredient companies: Clarins, Merck, and Sensient.
“Acting collectively is always the strongest way to gain in efficiency and power of action in the field,” says Séverine Thery-Cavé, Direct Purchasing Director at L’Oréal Groupe, in a news item on that company’s site.
“That is the reason why the coalition will allow us to improve our in-depth knowledge of our supply chains with all our suppliers, and thus engage our ecosystem towards a more responsible world,” she explains.
TRASCE coalition is working with the US-based software development company Transparency-One. The advantage of a single, digital platform is that, “in the long-term” the companies involved will be able “to develop a collective approach to the risk analysis of social and environmental risks in supply chains, to interpret the data collected and define common progress plans,” according to an announcement on the Sensient site.
And (since beauty is both a collaborative and a competitive industry) it is important to note that Transparency-One will safeguard the confidentiality of each coalition member’s ingredients and components, the origins of those, and the names of their suppliers, along with supplier activities and processing locations.
While we’re thinking about the many layers of the cosmetic industry supply chain—all of the products and processes that it takes to create a single consumer product—let’s look in on NastriTex.
NastriTex makes pressing ribbon, which can be more formally described as “technological textiles and innovative materials developed for cosmetic machinery.” Pressing ribbon creates a smooth or embossed surface on color cosmetic and complexion products. It is used between the machine and the makeup: “An intermediate between the mechanical press and cosmetic powder is essential,” explains Federico Mocchetti, General Manager of NastriTex.
The company makes some 50 different materials for this purpose. So for beauty makers the question becomes, “What kind of material should I use?” To answer this, Mocchetti has his own questions: “What do you expect from your product? Smooth surface of the powder pressed compact? Do you have embossments or engraves on the surface? Are you using pearly components or a matt powder? Moreover, do you use micronized powder? Do you have a problem with drop tests?”
“According to each specific situation,” he tells me, “we suggest the proper article made of a specific material [which can be different polymers (polyamide, polyester, cellulosic, polyethylene, and so on)]….We are able to do this thanks to the support of our NastriTex Lab, which handles the research and development of new materials, and TexFactory, the in-house division that produces our articles,” explains Mocchetti, emphasizing that, “experience, quality, and service make us unique in this industry.”
CEO Rosy Sarasini, whom Mocchetti describes as a woman with curiosity and passion for the world of cosmetics, founded NastriTex in 1980. “Rosy decided to be at the service of those contract manufacturers who would later turn Italy into a world-leading manufacturing center in the cosmetics sector,” explains Mocchetti.
Approaching innovation both technologically and creatively, Sarasini and her team have developed over 100 prototypes: “customized technical textiles, polythene films, non-woven textiles, combination of textiles fibers and cellulosic material, and textiles made from 100% recycled materials.”.
When NastriTex celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2020, they also launched Futura, “the first and only pressing ribbon in the world entirely made from recycled material derived from post-consumer PET plastic bottles. Using Futura during the production cycle of 500,000 pieces of powder compacts, we could save up to 240kg of CO2!”
“Futura,” Mocchetti tells me, “is the result of the research and development activities of NastriTex Lab. Not only did we create a textile by using recycled fibers, but also a high-tech product whose performances are equivalent, if not superior, to traditional similar items. With Futura, NastriTex contributes to the production of responsible cosmetics.” Which is why Mocchetti is encouraged to see Futura become a go-to pressing ribbon of the most demanding brands and contract manufacturers.
Additionally, by continuing to expand the range of textiles produced in-house, NastriTex is shortening the supply chain—minimizing the distance and emissions of transportation. And Mocchetti points out that short supply chains, because of internalized production as well as the proximity of local and regional suppliers, are among the sustainability advantages of beauty Made in Italy.
In another important project, the team at NastriTex is studying the recovery of used materials. “NastriTex,” says Mocchetti, “is committed to break new ground in the interest of sustainability with a specific family of products: the name is ‘Technology for the future’. It’s the new product line whose core values are sustainability and the principles of circular economy: reduce, reuse and recycle. This new generation of products, which even outperform their traditional equivalents, is useful for eco-focused projects.”
These sustainability initiatives are all the more important because pressing ribbon is by necessity disposable. Mocchetti gives two reasons. One, “during pressing activity the material undergoes a violent deformation and a pronounced contamination of pressed powder.” So the ribbon is damaged and could not be used again for the same purpose; and it is also (for lack of a better word) dirty. Two, “all our articles are safe for the skin. No harmful substances are included or released by products. This assurance is certified by an international agency and its validity is granted only for the first use.” The makeup in the compact touches the consumers’ skin. What touches the makeup must be sanitary.
At Cosmoprof this year, NastriTex will showcase the capabilities of the TexFactory division, what Mocchetti describes as “our technological textile factory, born from a strategy of vertical integration started some years ago, taking over and expanding the activity of a historic external partner. This division within NastriTex, together with NastriTex Lab (our hub dedicated to the R&D of new solutions and tailor-made materials), constitutes the pathway to offer clients the possibility to test new materials and solutions.”.
Glass packaging specialist Zignago Vetro is quite literally investing in beauty packaging’s sustainable future.
To minimize demand for virgin raw materials and simultaneously increase demand for cullet, the company (founded in 1979 and headquartered in Fossalta di Portogruaro, Italy) has invested “in cullet treatment plants, specifically: Vetreco S.r.l. (in Central-Southern Italy), Vetro Revet S.r.l. (in Central Italy), and Julia Vitrum S.p.A. (in Northeastern Italy).
All these investments make Zignago Vetro the leading player in this sector in Italy,” says Stefano Bortoli, Commercial Director of Cosmetics and Perfumery at Zignago Vetro.
In “cullet treatment plants,” he explains, “glass is processed, cleaned, and separated by color, ready to be used again by glass factories as secondary raw material.” He calls it “a perfect example of circular journey, thanks to a material that is 100% recyclable for an infinite number of times.”
Zignago Vetro works with international brands and multinational beauty makers across market tiers—luxury, masstige, lifestyle, and mass-market. The glass maker also partners with emerging companies and niche brands, which give Zignago Vetro “important market opportunities,” according to Bortoli, who also notes that, “We deal with clients all over the world, mostly located in Europe, America, and Asia.”
At Cosmopack this year, Zignago Vetro will be launching new products “in all the cosmetics and perfumery segments: from nail-polish, to miniature perfumes, skincare solutions, air freshener options, and other novelties.”
I asked Bortoli, why beauty makers choose glass, and he outlined several reasons:
“1. Aesthetics and Prestige: Glass is associated with a luxurious and high-quality product appearance. Transparency and sensorial perception of glass confer a touch of elegance and prestige to beauty products, helping to enhance and position them better.
“2. Product Preservation and Safety: Glass does not react chemically with its content. This helps preserve the integrity of the product, protecting it from light (in the case of dark glass), oxygen, and other external influences that could degrade or alter the composition of the product.
“3. Recyclability: Glass is infinitely recyclable. The growing focus on sustainability has led many beauty brands to opt for recyclable solutions in order to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging. On such matter, glass is the preferred packaging material.
“4. Design Versatility: Glass offers a wide range of design options, including colors, shapes, and finishes. This allows manufacturers to customize the appearance of their packaging to match the brand and product needs.”
Several times during our interview Bertoli alluded to glass as ‘infinitely recyclable’. And since the feasibility of beauty packaging recycling is so often called into question, I wanted him to explain this further. Here is what he told me: “Glass is—by definition—the only material that is 100% recyclable for an infinite number of times, without deteriorating itself and without deteriorating the quality of its content. Glass can be recycled without losing its chemical and physical properties; unlike some other materials, glass does not undergo degradation during the recycling process. This is why glass is referred to as ‘infinitely recyclable.’ The infinite recyclability of glass has a significant environmental benefit, as it reduces the need to extract virgin raw materials for glass production.”
ROELMI HPC , the company mentioned at the beginning of this article, makes both functional ingredients and actives. And they have what I would describe as a multifaceted approach to sustainable ingredient development, using biotechnology, green chemistry, upcycling, local sourcing, efficient production, clean fractionation tech, and more.
Dr. Elisa Altieri tells me that this is a reflection of the company’s “commitment to comprehensive sustainability. Each method,” she says, “contributes unique benefits, and by integrating various approaches, we can address diverse environmental and societal challenges. Specializing in one or two methods might limit our ability to adapt to evolving sustainability standards and could overlook potential opportunities for innovation and improvement.”
Altieri says that when it comes to sustainability, brands and manufacturers’ “key metrics of interest include carbon footprint, water usage, and waste generation. They seek information on the origin and sustainability of raw materials, manufacturing processes, and the overall ecological footprint of the product. Addressing these concerns by providing transparent and comprehensive sustainability data is essential in meeting customer expectations.”
And she tells me that “there is a growing demand for upcycled ingredients as consumers and the industry increasingly prioritize circular economy models. Beyond the environmental benefits of reducing waste,” Altieri points out that “upcycled ingredients often bring unexpected advantages, such as unique textures and properties. The creative use of upcycled materials can result in innovative products that resonate with environmentally conscious consumers.” It’s a trend she believes will not be stopping any time soon.
I asked Altieri to share some specific examples of ROELMI HPCingredients so that I could better understand the connections between sustainable sourcing, ingredient benefits, and sensorial attributes: “Sustainable sourcing and production initiatives positively impact ingredient efficacy by ensuring the quality of our raw materials. A perfect example is related to two of our cosmetic esters derived from the upcycling of olive oil,” she says, explaining that, “We start with waste materials that are no longer usable in the food industry and skillfully transform and shape them according to our needs. Olive oil consists of valuable components that we have successfully retained, purifying them and modelling their ratio for different purposes.”
The ingredients that she is describing are EMotion® Skin and EMotion® Glow, “which,” she notes, “maintain the exact same INCI name. However, through intelligent modulation of the two major components of olive oil, we achieve exceptional and distinct results between the two molecules.”
And according to materials the company shared with me, “EMotion® SKin is a biomimetic emollient, with high skin affinity, thanks to its composition made by the synergy between triglycerides and diglycerides….With its unique properties, it is able to deliver cosmetic active ingredients through [the] epidermis layer enhancing their efficacy and absorption.”
While “EMotion® Glow is a rich and nourishing emollient, that provides rich textures [without stickiness]. It is obtained…from olive oil fractions, maintaining the main characteristics of [the] raw material without showing oxidative and rancidity phenomena. It is an excellent dispersant agent, perfect for makeup formulations, able to give a glossy finish with a pleasant cushion effect.”
ROELMI HPC will makes its debut at Cosmopack this year; and the company will be showing “a new capsule collection designed to honor our portfolio of cosmetic ingredients driven by 100% sustainable innovation. These formulations,” says Altieri, “are contemporary, featuring sophisticated, elegant, and practical textures”—all “with an exciting storytelling approach.”
There are no shortcuts to environmental sustainability. Though it is quite clear, even looking at only a few cosmetic and personal care industry suppliers, that there are many paths.
What these suppliers also make clear is that through collaboration, ingenuity, transparency, and investment, it is possible to support beauty makers without compromising quality or the planet. This is not to say that our work here is done; a truly circular economy seems a long way off. But there is real change happening; and the increasingly sustainable beauty supply chain is reshaping our industry for the better.
Get a 360o view of the cosmetic and personal care industry supply chain at Cosmopack this March 21 – 23. Cosmopack, which runs concurrently with Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna, spans ingredients and raw materials, private label and contract manufacturers, packaging and applicator suppliers, machinery specialists, automation providers, full-service solution companies, and more. I will see you there!
Author: Deanna Utroske
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