‘Greater scrutiny’: Why European policy changes will create challenges for APAC’s cosmetics firms

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Impact of policy changes in Europe likely to filter down to APAC. [Getty Images]
Impact of policy changes in Europe likely to filter down to APAC. [Getty Images]

Related tags Regulation Eu Sustainability

An increasing emphasis on environmental issues will have a profound effect on the Asia Pacific cosmetics industry, said regulations experts, with the impact of policy changes in Europe likely to filter down to the region.

A panel of experts were gathered for the Global Fragrance Summit organised by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) to discuss the cosmetic regulatory challenges and opportunities facing the APAC region.

“I think, unfortunately, we are going to see more regulation. We're going to see greater scrutiny on all of the ingredients and greater scrutiny on all of the claims,” ​said Bronwyn Capanna, executive director, ACCORD, the Australian hygiene, personal care and specialty products industry association.

Capanna foresees that regulation will be heavily influenced by the greater emphasis on the environmental impact of cosmetic products.

“We can get an insight into some of those issues if we look at the European Green Deal, for example, and some of the issues that they're focusing on.”

The European Green Deal is a set of policy initiatives by the European Commission to reach the goal of making the European Union (EU) climate neutral by 2050.

While it is aiming to lay the foundations for a sustainable revolution, the Green Deal presents major policy challenges for cosmetics.

“I think that we are going to see a greater push for, particularly as exampled in their Green Deal, the risk assessment communication versus hazard-based communication. I also see the erosion of science-based discussion and argument and I think these are some of the things that industry needs to do better,” ​said Capanna.

Green Deal impact on APAC

Alain Khaiat, president of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association of Singapore (CTFAS) agreed, stressing that regulations in Europe also affect other regions.

“Some of the points that are being raised today in Europe are going to have a huge impact on the industry. Obviously, sometimes people say it's a European regulation, so we have nothing to do with it and it's not going to affect us – this is not true.”

He elaborated that regulators in other regions may face pressure from consumers to follow the same rules.

“Regulators have pressure from the consumers saying if this ingredient is banned in Europe, why are you allowing it in my country? And why are you allowing the industry to use it on me? That's a major issue.”

Khaiat said the industry needs to let science lead regulation decisions. “Unfortunately, a lot of the time, regulations come before the science is there. We've seen in some areas where sunscreen has been banned for their effect on coral without any science on the effect of sunscreens on coral? Is the coral dying because of temperature change or pH change in the oceans? Pollution? Or is the sunscreen really responsible?”

He cautioned that once regulations are put in place, it would be difficult to backpedal and remove them. “We have to be very careful, very open and very proactive with the regulatory agencies and with the science behind it.”

Capanna concluded: “I think what we've got to do is really strive to proactively address these and push for international line and science-based regulation that are very much focused on risk.”

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