The sustainable beauty movement is growing.

As the climate crisis intensifies, beauty brands of every size are questioning their environmental impact and embracing more sustainable solutions.

But what exactly is sustainable beauty and what should brands be doing to ensure their businesses are authentically eco friendly?

What is sustainable beauty?

Sustainable beauty is seen as beauty that works to limit or mitigate its environmental impact, covering types of ingredients, cruelty-free testing, sourcing and disposal of packaging, R&D and development.

It’s also often seen to include a beauty brand’s social impact and ethical practices: for example, fair pay across a supply chain is a way to promote social sustainability.

And it’s something consumers increasingly care about.

Consumers now expect brands to be tackling and talking about climate change - in fact, a study conducted by Provenance and Cult Beauty found that 1 in 2 (48%) of consumers  are looking for more information and clarity about brands’ values and commitments to the environment.

And what they find will influence their purchasing decisions, with Deloitte research finding that 28% of UK consumers say they have stopped buying certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns, rising to 45% among Gen Z.

Greenwashing in the beauty industry

But talking isn’t enough.

As the sustainable beauty movement grows, so has awareness of ‘greenwashing’, where brands present themselves as sustainable when in reality their products and processes are not.

Consumers are getting savvier at detecting ‘greenwashing’ and attempts to exaggerate sustainability will ultimately harm, not help, brands. In fact, the British Beauty Council’s Sustainable Beauty Coalition recently published a Planet Positive Beauty Guide to help consumers sift real sustainability claims from marketing hype.

Therefore brands looking to explore sustainability should make sure they can back up their environmental claims as well as ensuring they’ve examined the impact of their entire business.

The beauty industry and packaging waste

Packing is a huge problem for beauty: the global beauty industry is estimated to produce 120 billion units of packaging annually.

And the majority of this packaging ends up in landfill. Sustainable beauty statistics published by the British Beauty Council estimate that only 14% of packaging actually goes to a recycling plant, only 9% is recycled and the rest is sent directly to landfill.

The life cycle of beauty packaging is something we’re hugely aware of and concerned with at Odore.

We offer sustainable and 100% recyclable packaging and printing as part of our product sampling platform so the brands and agencies we work with can ensure their sampling is sustainable.

We also print clear recycling symbols and instructions on our packaging to assist consumers with recycling and responsibly disposing of their packaging.

And it’s not just about the packaging that customers hold in their hands. The packaging we use in our fulfilment centres is also sustainable and recyclable and we offer batch processing so samples are shipped in bulk to minimise packaging and emissions.

Environmental benefits of targeted campaigns

But better packaging isn’t the only thing that can make product sampling campaigns more sustainable.

E-sampling helps create sustainable cosmetics brands and beauty brands by maximising efficiency and minimising waste in sampling campaigns.

A digital sampling platform like Odore helps brands collect consumer data that allows them to hyper-target consumers with the product samples most suited to them. This means consumers are only served the samples they really have use for so they don’t head straight from the letterbox into the bin.

Another way e-sampling helps cut down waste is by cutting out the mailing errors that quickly multiply when brands rely on manual processes.

Odore’s platform digitalises sampling to avoid mailing mistakes and implements extra address checks to make sure products aren’t sent to non mailable addresses.

This means samples aren’t shipped out and then sent back again, clocking up road miles and carbon emissions.

Sustainability will be an ongoing project for the beauty industry and if we’re to see real, lasting change it needs to be a priority for every beauty brand.

The above are just a few examples of the way beauty businesses can start becoming more sustainable and are by no means exhaustive or conclusive.

Sustainability in the beauty industry means constantly challenging ourselves, pushing to make things better and continually seeking new ways to protect the earth and its people.


Odore helps beauty brands of every size make their sampling more sustainable - find out more about our scalable model and request a demo here.


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