Common definition: Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (Brundtland Report commissioned by United Nations 1987)
The importance of sustainability to consumer companies
People connect with brands and in the personal care industry these connections can be very strong as consumers identify with their favourite brands. Companies nurture these connections to increase and protect the equity in their brands. Increasingly, people want to know information such as what ingredients are in their chosen brands; where the ingredients come from; whether they are tested on animals; if they are renewable; and if they contribute to deforestation or loss of biodiversity? Ultimately, they expect their brands to be sustainable. Social media, NGOs and blogs ensure that bad news travels fast and global damage to brand equity via social media can be immediate and long lasting.
All of this brings sustainability right to the forefront of consumer businesses. I would argue it contributes to a more conservative, risk averse approach. It drives good behaviour, creative thinking and very strong sustainability programmes in some major companies.
However, not all businesses move at the same pace and there are some clear leaders with strong, clear messages and targets. Then there are some not taking the same proactive stance – a current example is industry support for sustainable palm. The leaders have near term targets to develop the physical supply chain for CSPO ingredients, typically by 2020. Those that don’t may find themselves under increased scrutiny from NGOs.
How can the ingredient supplier contribute?
My view is that the majority of consumer-facing businesses have sustainability programmes and ingredient suppliers need to be aligned with these and proactively contribute.
At Croda, sustainability of ingredients is captured in our ingredient integrity™ programme that covers:
- Intrinsic environmental metrics: reducing carbon footprint, water and waste; increased use renewable raw materials; increased use of non-fossil fuel energy; and greater efficiency of products in use; and
- Sustainable raw material supply: renewable vs petrochemical; and the sustainability credentials of the renewable raw materials – palm being a current focus.
Sustainability is a touch point with customers and is increasing in importance. It has become a KPI against which many customers now measure suppliers, in addition to service, quality, cost and innovation, which brings another dimension to the customer/supplier relationship.
Chris Sayner, Vice President, Customer Alliances Corporate Sustainability at Croda International, will lead a Sustainability Roundtable from 13.15 to 14.00 on Wednesday 5 April 2017 in the Marketing Trends Theatre at in-cosmetics Global