Supply chains can be confusing and overwhelming, but they are very important when you start digging into the sustainability of a product. On each product page under the "transparency tab" you can find a transparency wheel. We broke down each steps of the wheel for you here.
beauty supply chain
In the cosmetics industry, the supply chain is a bit different. Cosmetics often have more ingredients and those ingredients are more difficult to understand when you first see them. There are a lot of scientific names that make ingredient lists long and a little scary, and there is a lot of debate on which ingredients are good and which are not. Besides that, the focus is often more on what the ingredients are, and not where they come from. As there are a lot of small players involved in this supply chain, there are very little good certifications given because it is too expensive and difficult to check. In the beauty sector, it is thus very important to look per label what would be considered more sustainable. On our ingredients information page, you can read more about how and why we select beauty products and ingredients. On this page, we will provide some information about a basic beauty supply chain:
1. sourcing of ingredients
The process starts with getting the ingredients. In this step, there is a lack a lot of transparency in the beauty sector. As previously mentioned, ingredient lists can be very long and overwhelming, which makes it also more difficult to trace all the ingredients back to their origin. We aim to have a large percentage of natural and organic products, and these ingredients can usually be identified by the biological name of the plant the ingredient is extracted from. However, it is often unknown where exactly these ingredients come from. For natural ingredients, there are a lot of distributors involved who sell and resell the raw material. Because of all these in-between people, you lose track of the original location of the plantation. Also, natural and organic does not necessarily mean that the product is better for the environment. As there are a lot of smaller suppliers of ingredients, and there are a lot of middlemen, it is hard to check whether an ingredient is sustainably grown and sourced. For synthetic ingredients, the ingredients are usually processed in the same factory, but then it is also a big question where the factory gets their ingredients.
Once you have all the ingredients, you can move on to the creation of the actual product. As with every production process, this uses energy and produces emissions. We aim to curate a collection of labels that recognize this and try to work as energy and water-efficient as possible. The issue here is that a lot of labels often just purchase their product from a manufacturer, without knowing what happens before this step. There is a lot of ‘blind trust’, as it is very difficult to get all the information. We aim to select our beauty labels based on how much information they can provide us.
Then a product is put in its packaging. For sustainability purposes, this is an important step. In general, most beauty products have plastic packaging, which leads to a lot of waste. We strive to select labels that also pay attention to this step in the supply chain. More sustainable alternatives to plastic include recycled/recyclable plastic, plant-based plastics, and zero-waste options. However, it is very important to look at this case by case, as the sustainability of packaging depends on a lot of factors. Find out more about the eco-packed value on our website here.