Sustainable Beauty Coalition: Planet Positive event takeaways

Call for businesses and individuals to follow the five 'R's – remove, reduce, reuse, refill and recycle


By Lauren Heath-Jones

03 November 2021

Collaboration is key to making the beauty industry more sustainable, The Sustainable Beauty Coalition (SBC) revealed yesterday (Tuesday, November 2), during its Planet Positive virtual panel.

The event was live-streamed from the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, where world leaders are currently gathered to address the climate crisis.

The panel was hosted by journalist, author and British Vogue contributing beauty editor Kathleen Baird-Murray, and featured SBC founding members Jayn Sterland, Oriele Frank, Michelle Feeney, Jo-Anne Chidley, Helen Cox and Jessi Baker.

Panelists said that transparency and collaboration are key to reducing the beauty industry’s impact on the planet.

“At the moment we’re only being taxed on things like profit, we’re not actually being taxed on the damage we’re doing to the environment and to the planet, so I do think a carbon tax is really important.”

Jayn Sterland

SBC chair, and MD of Weleda

“There are some incredible companies doing some incredible work, but we need to share it. We need to come together and share best practices and actually understand that we’re all part of the solution, that we’re not competition. We need to work together,” said Weleda MD and SBC chair, Jayn Sterland.

The SBC also advocated for a carbon tax, where businesses are taxed on their environmental impact.

“At the moment we’re only being taxed on things like profit, we’re not actually being taxed on the damage we’re doing to the environment and to the planet, so I do think a carbon tax is really important,” said Sterland.

“The most important thing is for us all to show individual leadership because waiting for the government is another way of us not taking responsibility for the damage that we’re doing.”

Planet Positive Beauty Guide

Debunking greenwashing jargon


The SBC also announced the launch of its Planet Positive Beauty Guide.


Aiming to tackle the issue of greenwashing in the beauty industry, the guide has been designed to empower consumers to make greener beauty choices, by helping them confidently navigate through confusing ingredients lists, marketing jargon and misleading claims.


“I’m so proud to have witnessed the coming together of some of the industry’s leading experts who created an easy-to-follow consumer guide, enabling us to make conscious decisions about beauty products and services. This guide thoroughly tackles greenwashing,” said British Beauty Council CEO Millie Kendall, MBE.


Cold-water face washing can reduce the environmental impact of people using around 3.5 litres of water to wash (Image: Praveen kumar Mathivanan, Unsplash)

The panel also revealed the five ‘Rs’ that businesses need to take into consideration when it comes to their sustainability efforts.

“What can we remove? What can we reduce? What can we reuse? What can we refill? And what can we recycle,” asked Elemis co-founder and chief product and sustainability officer Oriele Frank.

Frank also advocated for cold-water washing, revealing that one of Elemis’s biggest environmental impacts came from its customers using its products, with the average Elemis customer using an estimated 3.5 litres to wash their face. She also called for the use of biodegradable ingredients in products.

“I hadn’t really thought about everything going down the plughole,” she said. “What is that doing to the environment? To the water? To the animals? To us, who are re-ingesting it? We really have to look at the biodegradability of the product. Really getting into what is in our product, is it doing anything damaging to the environment?”

Refillable packaging, such as introduced by ESPA, was highlighted as a solution to unnecessary waste

Other key topics included reusable and refillable packaging, with Frank suggesting a ‘milkman’ refill model, while Jo-Anne Chidley from Beauty Kitchen called for a circular economy, which aims to reuse, repair, refurbish and recycle existing materials and products for as long as possible, with a view to tackling global challenges such as the climate crises, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution.

“It’s simply the better way to do business,” she said.

Other key topics covered included profit versus purpose, consumers’ expectations in different markets, technology, shelf-space and the SBC’s Planet Positive Beauty Guide, which aims to help consumers debunk greenwashing.

Sterland added: “It’s up to every single person and we’re not just talking about sustainability and beauty, we’re talking about the fact that it’s ‘code red’. We’re here at COP26 and hearing that if we don’t do something immediately then we’re looking at 2.7-degree rise by the end of the century. Every single person on the planet, all 7 billion of us, have a responsibility and when it comes to money, there is so much money locked up in the commercial side of private business, and we need to channel that, together, to make a big difference.”

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