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Asia: Cosmetics Summit Tackles Environmental Impacts


Singapore: Need For Sustainability Reporting


China: Organic Dairy Floats Shares




Asia: Cosmetics Summit Tackles Environmental Impacts

With a growing population and burgeoning middle-class, Asia has one of the fastest growing markets for cosmetics & personal care products in the world. However, cosmetic and ingredient firms in the region are coming under pressure to reduce their environmental footprints. What practical steps can Asian companies take to lower their environmental impacts? What can be done in terms of raw materials, formulations, production processes, packaging and distribution? What are some of the best-practices in footprint measurement and reduction? Such questions will be addressed at the Asia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit

Taking place in Hong Kong on 10-11th November, the summit will discuss environmental impacts in the context of sustainability metrics, natural ingredients and marketing best-practices. For the first time in Asia, a summit will discuss the various ways cosmetic brands and ingredient firms can take practical measures to reduce their environmental footprints.

A dedicated workshop will explore the various factors influencing the environmental footprint of cosmetic products. Details will be given on the impact of ingredients, manufacturing, distribution, consumption to post-use. Various metrics will be given for each stage of a cosmetic product’s life-cycle. With the use of case studies, advice and guidance will be given to cosmetic and ingredient firms looking to lower their environmental footprints to become more sustainable enterprises.

Kurt Nuebling, CEO and co-founder of Primavera, will kick off the conference with an opening keynote on green innovations. With some cosmetic brands shying away from sustainability because of concerns about higher costs and low innovation, he will explain how sustainability can spur creativity. In another seminar, Nuebling will give details on how Primavera has built a carbon positive facility in southern Germany.

Leading cosmetic firms and retailers will also share their experiences with sustainability at the summit. Sa Sa, a chain of over 270 cosmetics retailers in Asia, will give its perspectives on CSR and corporate governance: what are the key priorities of the beauty retailer? In another paper, a multinational cosmetics firm will highlight the major ecological and social challenges it faces in the Asian region.

Baby care is one of the fastest growing categories in the Asian natural and organic personal care products market. Concerns about synthetic chemicals in baby care products are driving market growth. Robin Brown, CEO and founder of Erbaviva, will state the difficulties in building distribution in the disparate Asian region. Erbaviva is one of the few natural baby care brands with products carrying the coveted USDA Organic seal.

Formulating with natural & organic ingredients will be featured in a dedicated workshop and conference session. Oriflame will state the pitfalls and opportunities provided by certification; the Swedish company has developed the first line of certified natural and fair trade cosmetics. It is expanding sales of its Ecobeauty line to about 100 countries. One of the major formulation issues associated with natural & organic cosmetics is preservatives, specifically replacing parabens. Judi Beerling of Organic Monitor will conduct a workshop on the major green preservative options.

The Asian region is also experiencing ingredient fraud. Rising prices of natural raw materials have led to a number of incidents of mislabelling and adulteration. Using tea tree oil as a case study, details will be given on analytical techniques to authenticate cosmetic ingredients. Other papers will cover green emulsifiers and surfactants, natural actives and skin whitening ingredients.

By focusing on environmental impacts, this 4th Asia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit aims to tackle one of the major sustainability concerns of cosmetic companies in Asia. According to Amarjit Sahota, president of the summit organiser Organic Monitor, “many Asian companies are lagging in terms of sustainability because they are not addressing their environmental footprints”. By putting the spotlight on this important topic, Asian companies should start making greater strides towards sustainability.

Organised by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit is to encourage sustainability in the beauty industry by bringing together key stake-holders and debate major sustainability issues in a high-level forum. The 4th Asia-Pacific edition will be hosted at Excelsior Hong Kong on 10-11th November. More information is available from the website


Source: News Release



Singapore: Need For Sustainability Reporting

Singapore is far behind competing countries when it comes to sustainability reporting, despite a two-fold increase in the number of mainboard-listed companies communicating their sustainability efforts.

Out of 537 listed companies studied by the National University of Singapore's business school and Singapore Compact for Corporate Social Responsibility, there are 160 companies, or about 30 percent, who have communicated sustainability in four areas of their business - governance, economic, environmental and social.

The study - Accountability for a Sustainable Future - looked at sustainability reporting among Singapore Exchange (SGX) mainboard-listed companies last year, excluding companies such as business trusts or suspended firms.

All 537 companies' annual reports, websites and standalone sustainability reports (if any) were studied based on SGX's Guide to Sustainability Reporting. Of the 160 found to be communicating sustainability efforts, only 19 used the internationally-recognised Global Reporting Initiative framework. An even smaller number - eight companies - out of the 160, sought external assurance for their reporting.

The numbers paint a dismal picture. Although the 160 is about twice that of the 79 companies who were communicating sustainability efforts in 2011 - when the first study was carried out - experts say sustainability reporting falls through the cracks.

During the panel discussion, panellists pointed to a lack of buy-in from top management. "Once CEO commitment comes, then things will fall into place," said Rajesh Chhabara, founder and director of sustainability consultancy CSRWorks International.

Mr Chhabara added the lack of commitment from the board stems partly from the "secretive culture" in Singapore, where the management is not comfortable with disclosure. The chief executive's pay is one example. Besides non-disclosure, he said that chief executives often do not see sustainability reporting as a priority.

The top management faces competing priorities from new compliance standards, especially in recent years, said Graham Owens, Singapore Institute of Directors' head of professional development and research.

In addition, stakeholder pressure from investors and consumers is lacking here. Singapore investors currently do not value sustainability-related information. "I think it's a chicken and egg situation, because the information isn't good quality in the first place," said Mr Owens.

Most retail investors are seeking profits and growth, not so much companies who are trying to build long-term value, said Mr Chhabara. He added that for consumers here, they are more concerned about goods which have a personal impact, such as organic foods. There is weak consumer pressure and this could be due to the lack of global consumer brands; many businesses here are part of supply chains, instead of selling directly to the consumer, said Mr Owens.

Regulation is thus needed for any significant progress to be made. Experts suggested that the Code of Corporate Governance could be enhanced to make sustainability reporting mandatory. "Without regulation, I don't think we're going to get very far," said Mr Owens.

This must be balanced with incentives and rewards for companies who report sustainable efforts. "You need carrots, and you need the sticks," he said. For regulation to avoid being a "tick-box exercise", companies need to identify and understand the sustainability issues which are part of their business strategy. And if sustainable issues are not on the table, businesses will be missing out on opportunities such as new products or partnerships, said Mr Owens.

OM Comment
Sustainability reporting is becoming mandatory for publicly-listed companies in some countries. Singapore leads in many areas of corporate governance in Asia, and it could also potentially do so in sustainability reporting. Taking a longer-term perspective, if Singapore is to maintain its position as a regional financial hub, it needs to encourage greater transparency and accountability from its companies.

Related Article:

Asia Lagging Behind in Sustainable Sourcing of Ingredients

Source: Business Times Singapore / OM



China: Organic Dairy Floats Shares

China Shengmu Organic Milk has raised HK$1.06bn (USD 137m) from its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in Hong Kong.

Mongolia-based China Shengmu Organic Milk is the largest organic dairy company in China, having 30,621 organic cows and 29,836 conventional (non-organic) cows. It has 13 organic farms in desert regions and 12 conventional farms in Inner Mongolia autonomous region. It has another three farms under development, which are expected to open by September. And it expects to add 18 farms by the end of 2016.

Song Liang, an industry analyst, said raising cows in the desert and keeping the desert green are environmentally friendly, a practice that receives strong support from local governments. Also, organic liquid milk, which generates higher profits than other kinds of milk, is a solution to the rising domestic demand for high-end dairy products, Song said.

The organic raw milk market accounted for 0.5 percent of the total raw milk market in China by volume in 2013. Its share is projected to reach 3.2 percent by volume in 2018. Retail sales of organic liquid milk comprise about 1.3 percent of the total liquid milk market.

OM Comment
China Shengmu Organic Milk is one of the leading organic food companies in China. It has floated its shares to expand in the domestic and export markets. By raising production levels, it could become the dominant organic dairy company in Asia. Most organic dairy products are imported into Asia, mainly from North America and Australasia. It will be interesting to see how China Shengmu Organic Milk builds its footprint in the Asian market.

Related report:  #5002-40 The Asian Market for Organic Food & Drink

Source: News Release














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