Survey: Sustainable action has high priority in the cosmetics industry

The results of the IKW member survey on the topic of sustainability show that responsible and sustainable business practices are firmly anchored in the cosmetics industry. In addition to climate and environmental protection, the company's commitment also includes numerous activities for employees and the community as well as quality standards along the supply chain.

Sustainability in the cosmetics industry has not only been a topic of great interest since the “Agenda 2030” of the United Nations - sustainability has been an integral part of the corporate culture of the majority of cosmetics manufacturers for years. Almost 70 percent of the IKW member companies taking part in the survey* have at least one employee who deals with the topic of sustainability in their own company. And 60 percent of the companies state that there is a written corporate code or a model for assuming social responsibility. When it comes to reducing the ecological footprint, the majority of companies have set themselves specific goals. A little more than half of the companies have systematically recorded the climate impact of their company in the last three years, for example in the form of a carbon footprint. And the majority of the member companies participating in the survey have defined qualitative sustainability goals for individual areas: two thirds have, for example, set goals for raw materials, 60 percent for energy and waste, and almost half for climate and 45 percent for water. The subject of packaging is also high on the agenda for cosmetics manufacturers. Almost 70 percent have defined goals for the use of packaging. If you take a closer look at what the companies have set out to do, two thirds would like to use lighter or smaller packaging and almost three quarters more plastic recyclate. Over 70 percent want to achieve a higher level of recyclability. Cosmetics manufacturers also take on responsibility within the company and, for example, invest in employee training, offer company pension schemes, enable family-friendly working hours or support their employees with health issues, such as membership in a fitness club. 70 percent of the companies train their employees regularly on topics such as quality, anti-corruption and price fixing. Three quarters of the cosmetics manufacturers also allow flexible working time models, for example in the form of working time accounts, and 80 percent offer entry opportunities to part-time employment. The companies are also making good progress when it comes to the issues of age structure and the proportion of women in management positions. When it comes to age structure, more than half of the companies state that they pay attention to a balanced relationship. The average proportion of women in management positions in the companies participating in the survey rose from 39 percent (2019) to 43 percent (2020).

And as far as corporate governance is concerned: 45 percent of companies state that they have taken precautions to prevent corruption. There are just as many companies that have set up an anonymous reporting system for violations of human rights, laws or internal regulations. Half of the companies confirm that there are goals and measures to improve occupational safety beyond the legal requirements.

When asked about their goals and systems for ensuring social and ecological quality standards within their supply chain, almost half of the companies taking part in the survey stated that they have a long-term, sustainable purchasing strategy. With more than 60 percent there are clear decision criteria for the selection of suppliers. And more than 40 percent of the companies have set criteria and requirements for suppliers with regard to social and ecological responsibility in the production and procurement of raw materials. At half of the companies, the majority of the direct suppliers are also regularly audited and more than half of the companies confirm that all suppliers guarantee compliance with minimum social standards, such as no child labor, no forced labor and compliance with human rights.

Birgit Huber, Head of the Competence Partner Beauty Care at IKW: “Sustainability is an important topic that moves our member companies and therefore also IKW. The first survey on the topic of sustainability among our members shows how versatile sustainable management is already in the cosmetics industry. For the next few years we have set ourselves the goal of deepening the results and tracing developments."

The competence partner beauty care in IKW supports its members with a variety of activities such as advice in relevant committees, the evaluation of environmental properties of particularly relevant cosmetic ingredients, the implementation of scientific studies or the detailed information of the members on new laws.

The results of the survey and further information on activities of the competence partner beauty care in the IKW on the subject of sustainability are available for download under Sustainable action in the body and beauty care industry - an inventory in the IKW. *Sustainable action in the beauty care industry, survey of IKW members in the area of ​​the competence partner beauty care at IKW, 2021

About the survey

The survey was carried out for the first time in autumn 2020 among the member companies of the competence partner beauty care at IKW. The cosmetics manufacturers were asked about their commitment to sustainability. 51 companies took part and provided information about the areas of sustainability in which they are active. For a better classification: eight of the participating companies have more than 1000 employees, eight manufacturers employ between 500 and 1000 employees and 35 companies have between two and 500 employees in Germany.