NEWS > 17 February 2021
"One small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind".
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong, placing his first foot on the lunar surface, entered history.
A little more than 50 years later, we are called to reach another important milestone: reducing our activities' environmental impact to 0 to safeguard our planet's health. And we must do it by 2050: this is the deadline set by the European Green Deal, presented for the first time in December 2019 by the European Commission. The agreement, which Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, defined "like the landing of man on the moon", will allow Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent. Specific action plans will focus on reducing greenhouse gases, promoting circular economy and industrial sustainability projects, and supporting reforestation and protection of the biodiversity of our continent.
The defence of the environment is a topic today more than ever at the centre of the political and social debate: the health care emergency in recent months has highlighted how attention to the environment also affects our society's economic development. In a historical moment that sees us committed to rebuilding our society's foundations, environmental sustainability will be at the heart of Europe’s recovery. For the next European long-term budget, 30% of the 1.8 trillion will go to climate related spending.
The cosmetics industry is called upon to play a leading role in this revolution, but what is the impact of the deal on the sector, and what are the terms that will most influence the development plans of beauty companies?
Read the interview to Salvatore D'Acunto, Head of the Consumer Industry Unit for the European Commission, who help us draw a picture of the situation.
Mr D’Acunto, is there a specific plan for beauty industry, to achieve the target of Europe’s climate neutrality by 2050?
The environmental impact of a cosmetic product can result from several phases, from design, sourcing ingredients, manufacturing, transport, use and disposal. For instance, there is increasing evidence that for rinse off cosmetic products the biggest impact is in the use phase (water, energy etc.). Nevertheless, meaningful contributions towards climate neutrality can be achieved via the use of sustainable sources for natural raw materials, reducing impacts at manufacturing level, using recycled and recyclable packaging, reducing the use of plastic, etc.
Several cosmetic companies are already active in many initiatives in order to offer products as climate neutral as possible. Still we expect a more common sectorial approach. Even though the Cosmetic Industry is not among the sectors that contribute the most to the greenhouse gases emissions, the establishment of a comprehensive plan from the cosmetics sector to support and implement the EU Green Deal objectives would be a major achievement. We are encouraging the Cosmetic sector to be bold and become a frontrunner also in terms of sustainability; for example, by showcasing various interesting initiatives in that respect at the 2020 Green Week. Initiatives aiming to maximize sustainability via innovation and competitiveness without creating obstacles for small businesses in terms of economic viability represent the way forward.
Which would be the effective impact of the deal on cosmetics manufacturers and brands in terms of production rules and chemicals restrictions?
The EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability is a first step towards the zero-pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment, announced in the European Green Deal. More specifically, there are some actions that will affect how cosmetic manufacturers place products on the market:
• Banning the most harmful chemicals (such as Endocrine Disruptors) in consumer products including cosmetics - allowing their use only where essential
• Accounting for the cocktail effect of chemicals (e.g. aggregate exposure) when assessing risks from chemicals
• Phasing out per - and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the EU, unless their use is essential
• Establishing a simpler “one substance one assessment” process for the risk and hazard assessment of chemicals
The implementation of the above actions will be preceded by an Impact assessment, which will allow to select the most appropriate steps to achieve the Green Deal objectives also in the cosmetics sector.
How are European countries reacting to the deal? Which are the countries which are already on the way to reach the goals, and which are the countries which have to face more difficulties?
The EU Member States have committed to the implementation of the European Green Deal and the climate neutrality target at several occasions at the highest level (see for example: EUCO conclusions December 12, 2019; EUCO conclusions 10-11 December 2020). In addition, EU leaders agreed that the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic needs to support the Union’s green and digital priorities. With the 30% under the 2021-2027 MFF and the NextGenerationEU Recovery Package that should go to climate-related spending, this is the biggest green investment package ever. Member States have also agreed that EU expenditure should be consistent with Paris Agreement objectives and the "do no harm" principle of the European Green Deal.
All Member States are committed to participate in the green transition, taking into account considerations of fairness and solidarity, while leaving no one behind. The Member States stressed that new targets need to be achieved in a way that preserves the EU’s competitiveness and takes account of Member States’ different starting points and specific national circumstances and emission reduction potential.