July 18, 2020
Sustainability can take many forms. It sometimes means rethinking the way products are made, which materials are being used and how they deteriorate with time. The goal here is to create a product that will disappear as quickly and cleanly as possible or on the contrary that will last a longer time to limit further consumption of the same product (ie : refillable packaging).
Sustainability can also mean to take existing products and wonder how to extend their lives. This path has been chosen by many companies in various industries. The most obvious one is the fashion industry. The number of second-hand or clothing rental companies has never been so high. These companies’ business model focus on products’ desirability. Fashion clothing or accessories are sold or rented after having been selected by the company and chosen by the consumer.
A lesser-known sustainability form is what is called social sustainability. According to WACOSS, Western Australia Council of Social Services « Social sustainability occurs when the formal and informal processes; systems; structures; and relationships actively support the capacity of current and future generations to create healthy and livable communities. Socially sustainable communities are equitable, diverse, connected and democratic and provide a good quality of life.” » The goal here is to create products while ensuring that business and production processes are socially fair.
In the cosmetic industry, many companies have started to include that aspect of sustainability in their objectives. On Thursday 25 June, L’Oréal unveiled its new sustainability program, including the transition by 2030 to completely recycled packaging, and the launch of a mechanism to display the environmental and social impact of its products.
Smaller brands are not left behind either.
There are many sides to sustainability and a common keyword for them all could be transparency. That is, in the end, what consumers pay the most attention to.