Over 150 senior executives convened at each edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Paris and Hong Kong to discuss key sustainability issues affecting the cosmetics industry.
Speaking of both summits, the event organiser suggests that a number of speakers think consumer behaviour was becoming a major barrier to sustainable development of the cosmetics industry.
Although operators are implementing a raft of sustainability initiatives, consumer education and recognition of such remains low.
This point is furthered as a lack of consumer demand for green products and ingredients is discouraging brands to make greater commitments.
A paper by the Union for Ethical BioTrade showed that awareness of biodiversity (and green issues) is rising in Asia, suggesting there may be some promise as seven in ten Chinese and Korean consumers state they are aware of such issues; however awareness was not translating into demand.
Organic Monitor also adds that the Asia-Pacific comprises less than 10% of global green cosmetic sales, and that there remain many ethical questions about cosmetics in Asia. As well as the use of animal ingredients in cosmetics, animal-testing methods remain common.
Lack of consumer awareness was also cited as a factor behind the low take-up rate of sustainable palm oil.
Organic Monitor says that although the industry is calling for more sustainable production, demand is not keeping with supply: only half of RSPO palm oil is sold as sustainable palm oil.
Higher consumer awareness of sourcing issues could put pressure on companies to ethically source the vegetable oil, especially in Asia where palm oil plantations are causing deforestation and air pollution.
Discussions at the two summits centered on these issues as well as marketing and consumer issues related to green cosmetics.
According to Havas Media Group, 88% of European consumers are hungry for information about how cosmetic companies source natural ingredients.
However, 45% of consumers believe natural & organic claims by cosmetic brands are not credible. The media agency called for brands to inspire consumers by communicating their sustainability efforts more effectively.