From The Editor's Desk

What does soil health have to do with the Cosmetics Industry?

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

What does soil health have to do with the Cosmetics Industry?
A huge body of scientific evidence makes it hard to deny that pollution from the agricultural industry has contributed significantly to global climate change, but what might perplex some is how this is connected to the cosmetics and personal care industry.

The answer is simple, as our industry moves increasingly to eco-friendly and natural products, the more it is relying on the supply of raw materials from the agricultural sector, and, in turn the more this is adding to the pressure on agricultural resources.

Whether those materials are plant-, fruit- and vegetable-based ingredients that are playing a part in formulations, or natural materials used in packaging, the huge growth in the market for natural and organic products worldwide means our industry is relying more and more on agriculture crops.

Our industry should be paying attention

In the grand scheme of things, the demands the cosmetics and personal care industry make on the agricultural sector will always pale in comparison to the food industry, but our industry should still be paying attention.

Industrial farming is not only leading to degradation of farm land and soil, it is also accountable for a large portion of the carbon pollution that is contributing to climate change, which means that any industry sourcing from farmers is playing its part in the resulting damage to the environment.

And with the rise of the conscious consumer, the decision whether or not this type of customer makes a purchase is increasingly down to issues such as transparency, sustainability and the impact on the environment that any given product might have.

Consumers want to make informed decisions

To help make more informed decisions, consumers are increasingly turning to a large selection of certification programs as a reference point. Perhaps taking these certification programs one step further, a new standard will help consumers identify agriculturally sourced materials that uphold environmentally friendly practices aimed at improving soil health.

Called the Soil Carbon Initiative​ (SCI), the new standard targets the entire naturals supply chain and should be launched by the end of this year.

This standard concerns any business that relies on the agricultural sector, which means it targets not only the food industry, but fast growing demand natural cosmetics and personal care category, supplements and natural household products, as well as a plethora of industries sourcing natural fibers.

Agricultural industry is struggling

All of this demand means that the agricultural sector is under pressure like never before, and with the ever-increasing use of pesticides and fertilizers to try and maximize crop yields, the stress on the soil and its long-term health is being constantly compromised.

Although the aim of the SCI standard might seem too peripheral to the cosmetics and personal care industry, the fact that natural and organic seems to be rapidly evolving as a mainstay element of the industry spells even greater reliance on the agricultural sector in the future.

With the global agricultural industry already feeding a population of well over 7 billion people, and increased demand from our industry only adding to the pressure, the burden this is creating will at some point become unsustainable if the current trajectory continues.

The aim is to reverse climate change

In response to this huge challenge, the certification has been developed by farmers, major global food companies and environmental organizations that include Green America and The Carbon Underground.

In a press statement to introduce the initiative, The Carbon Underground co-founders Tom Newmark and Larry Kopald, succinctly encapsulate both the essence of the initiative.

“Our goal is simple. It’s to reverse climate change​,” said Newmark and Larry Kopald.

“We now know that the massive loss of topsoil, and the degrading of much of the remaining soil, has not only emitted a large part of the carbon into our atmosphere but severely limited soil’s natural role of drawing carbon back. It’s pretty simple—help the soil and we help the climate.”

These powerful words underline the importance of the initiative and the reason why anyone involved in the supply chain should consider participating.

If you would like to share your opinions on the development of the new SCI standard, the organizers are accepting public comment until April 15th​, and you can engage by clicking here and filling in the form​.

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