Whether 2020 is going to be into history book, is something we will discover in the future. But the fact that 2020 will go down in our lives’ history is a matter of fact. The global balance of the planet has changed, people all over the World has been upset by the pandemic: normal lives have been affected by the role of the virus and of the precautions taken to fight it.
The pandemic has taught a lesson to everyone, on how life can suddenly change, going completely out of our control and decision-making power. Actually, Covid-19 has messed up the whole system, not giving time to our bodies and daily habits to get used to that.
One thing we could observe in all this trouble was the capacity of Nature of surviving the pandemic. We saw that it doesn’t seem too late for an environmental revolution. In fact, during the pandemic, animals, trees and rivers rejuvenated, in just few months of lockdown. That means there’s no need of an incredible effort to go back to a safer World. The self-healing properties of Nature are quite incredible; Earth Project is really a good one!
This positive lesson and what we are doing during our “normal” economy-driven life, are two sides of the same coin. It is not too late for the Planet, but we have to do something now, it’s not too early. We must set out the priorities for our future.
THE ROLE OF NATURE IN THE PANDEMIC
In line with the European Green Deal, it is time to calculate the CO2 production coming from manufacturing plants and transports and balance it to zero, in order to reach the climate neutrality. Lot of actions can be taken for this purpose, but everything comes from an idea, a project and an estimation of the environmental impact to be balanced. Of great importance is the “no waste” attitude, using 100% of sources, giving added value to by-products before they become waste. That means it is fundamental to create integrated production chains, whit no need of moving biomasses from one place to the other. This involves a major and radical change to a multisector management, not just a circular economy point of view. It might be easy for multinational companies, but it could be hard for SMEs, that shall integrate with others. It becomes a basic need to share the project from the beginning with the other actors of the supply chain, in order to open innovate and optimize technologies, energy and transports. Another point pushing through this direction is linked to the transparency of the supply chain, which is strongly requested by customers. Building integrated partnerships becomes a strength for market penetration. Industry, sustainability, knowledge sharing for open innovation and transparency are the keywords to work with.
Starting from the old model of a linear economy, we see today a number of developments with a circular economy plan. The eco-design of a product is becoming of great importance. New jobs are linked to people having the key role of planning the product life cycle and understanding its general impact on the environment. Moreover, the end of life of a product is of crucial interest for eco-designers. Just think about the difference between a compostable bio-plastic and a recyclable one when they are disposed of. The first one can go directly in the compost bin, while the second one in the plastic disposal, opening a number of new interactions and questions (i.e. what material should the label made of?) definitely requiring a precise plan before production.
One of the main point where manufacturing industry can make a difference and has to be taken into consideration while designing the product, is the technology used, to maximize the production while reducing the impact on the environment.
INDUSTRY AND SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTIONS
HBBS | Switzerland
Chemical by training, he specialized in marketing, sales and finance. In the cosmetic industry since 1982, he works in the commercial division of a number of multinational companies and in the ingredients distribution sector for Food and Personal Care.
He takes part to Federchimica and he is President of MAPIC in 2007-2008. Later, he is President of EFfCI in 2008-2013. Today he is President of the Swiss Association HCI.
When it comes to cosmetics, we always think about the constant innovation of the market, able to learn a lot of technology from other applications, growing despite the crisis and just partially stopped by the pandemic.
Cosmetics has an impressive technological know-how, from ingredients to finished products. Just consider the abundance of new ingredients coming from fermentation technology or the packaging used to improve products stability and its shelf life. Dermocosmetics product performances are sometimes comparable to medical devices (driven by a brand new legislation entered into force the last May), even though they just target the benefit of the skin and the maintenance of its healthy status, not going to skin medical treatment.
All over the years, we saw that sustainability has strongly led cosmetic innovation, starting from a massive market request of green label and more natural products. Even though the requests were often short time crazes, a lot of effort has been done by producers to obtain real sustainability, improving technologies and making investments. One of the latest example is linked to microplastics issue, that became popular in the last 5 years. Starting from the plastic case, mainly linked to the waste found out in oceans, a number of NGOs have requested an action to Europe. The plastic problem has been taken into consideration under a number of different point of views, until microplastics used in cosmetics. As per ECHA definition, released by the RAC and SEAC, they refer to small solid polymers-containing particles, in the range of 0.1µm to 5mm (still under investigation), that are intentionally added to cosmetics, mostly as cleansing agents or as technical means. The topic behind, was linked to the fact that microplastics are released to the environment and can cause marine pollution, aggregate toxic substances and become part of the food chain. In just few years from the raise of the problem, cosmetic industry has made a lot of steps forward, showing its capacity of innovation and its technological know-how. The choice belongs to companies, and cosmetics has the ethical duty to make a change, even though it’s not the biggest market producing and releasing microplastics. Today, before the legislation becomes effective in all Europe, we already have a number of solutions to microplastics concern, with biodegradable ingredients following references given by ECHA, showing high performances comparable to the standards. It is not too early to innovate sustainably, it’s only a brave choice.
WHAT ABOUT COSMETICS?
World is changing quickly today, and people are constantly asking for something new every day. We care for our planet, and we want a comforting life that doesn’t affect the environment, or the next generations.
Today sustainability and innovation are dancing cheek-to-cheek in all kind of markets. Pandemic time has just given a push forward the direction that was already well routed.
Manufacturers have a main role in the growth of communities in the next years. The vision of a new business linked to an innovative product, shall be based on a circular and sustainable design, that takes into consideration people and the environment in all product life cycle.
No more wasting of sources or extra-use of energy is possible. We can’t and we shall not waste what we take from Nature. The Earth overshoot day this year will be on 29th July, meaning we will be in debt with our planet for 5 entire months. We have to use 100% of what Nature is giving us, by fixing, reusing, recycling or biodegrading things. Before making anything new, let’s properly think about how can we totally use what we already have.
SUSTAINABILITY AND INNOVATION
IT IS NOT TOO EARLY
TO INNOVATE SUSTAINABLY