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Driving Sustainable Development

At Cosmetics Europe, we take to heart the principles of sustainable development, as illustrated by our mission statement: "Cosmetics Europe's mission is to support the development of an innovative, sustainable, competitive and respected cosmetics industry in Europe, which best serves consumers".


The United Nations defines sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, based on three pillars: economic development, environmental protection and social responsibility.

In line with these pillars, we strive to:

1. Reduce our environmental footprint 
There is a drive within our industry towards more environmentally efficient manufacturing techniques, reducing waste and emissions. Many companies are for instance lowering their Co2 emissions by reducing energy consumption, water consumption and waste generation throughout the product life cycle by using more sustainable materials for products and packaging, and taking steps to limit the amount of waste going to landfills.

2. Generate economic benefit through high value jobs and growth
We are a strategic sector with high value jobs, providing direct and indirect employment for 2 million people and we contribute significantly to economic growth in Europe.

3. Enhance the social value of our products and support the communities in which our products are manufactured (including value chain) or purchased 
Our industry has invested in programmes that enhance the communities in which our value chain operates. Numerous specific initiatives are underway within areas including health education, fair trade, health research and provision of education opportunities.


Cosmetics Europe has engaged in a number of initiatives that support sustainable development.

Recommendation on solid plastic particles

The occurrence and persistence of plastic debris in the marine environment and waterways is an issue of increasing public debate, with the vast majority of small plastic particles in the seas originating from the breakdown of bigger plastic materials.

Although often highlighted in the context of marine litter debate, the contribution of solid plastic microbeads from cosmetic and personal care products is limited compared to other sources. However, in view of public concerns, the cosmetics industry began the process of phasing out solid plastic microbeads some time ago, and as a result there has already been a dramatic reduction in their use in wash-off personal care products.

Cosmetics Europe has lent its support by recommending to its membership in October 2015 that it should seek to discontinue the use of synthetic, solid plastic particles used for exfoliating and cleansing that are non-biodegradable in the marine environment in wash-off cosmetic products placed on the market as of 2020.

Environmental footprint of shampoo

The European Commission is conducting a pilot on the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) that will guide future policy proposals. In parallel, Cosmetics Europe has studied the PEF of shampoo. We followed the Commission’s guidance, methodology and timing. The first draft was subject to an industry-wide consultation and external stakeholders were consulted on the 2nd draft. We aim to finalise the project in 2016.

This project’s final output will comprise a communication component that is intended as a first step towards raising public awareness of the environmental footprint of shampoo and outlining ways in which companies and consumers can reduce this footprint.

Conservation of biodiversity: access to and use of genetic resources (ABS)

Cosmetics Europe, together with three European associations representing cosmetic ingredient suppliers (EFfCI, IFRA and UNITIS), has developed Best Practice for complying the EU Regulation 511/2014 on access to genetic resources, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their utilisation (abbreviated ABS).  This Regulation implements in EU law the Nagoya Protocol on the conservation of biodiversity. The Best Practice was submitted to the European Commission with the aim to having it recognised as core guidance for the cosmetics sector. As soon as this process is completed, the Best Practice will be publicly available.

Cosmetics Europe, through its efficient network of 27 national associations assists more than 4000 SMEs in Europe, helping them to be compliant with environmental regulations and to engage in sustainable development activities.

Please contact us for further information on resources

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