Smart science to improve lives™
Personal Care
Personal Care

Beauty Cares about Carbon – How the beauty industry can help mitigate climate change

It is no secret that carbon emissions are affecting our planet significantly and potentially irreparably if action is not taken to rectify the catastrophic impact of climate change. Carbon is the most prominent greenhouse gas emission in the atmosphere (1) and at staggering levels, it is affecting our environment more than we may be able to handle. 

Carbon dioxide itself is not bad. In fact, we need carbon dioxide to survive. Without it, plants would not survive and would therefore not produce the air that we need to breathe. Additionally, the earth would not be warm enough to inhabit. 

However, the dramatic increase in carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere is bad. The current level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is the highest it has been in almost a million years (2) due to the burning of fossil fuels. It is posing a major shock to the earth’s climate control system and is trapping too much heat in the atmosphere, causing the global temperature to increase.

It is difficult to ignore the scary truth of global warming. In recent years, we have experienced the negative impact climate change brings across the world. Extreme weather events are 5x higher (3) than they were just forty years ago, and this is only set to increase if we do not act now. Hurricanes are “growing more powerful as global temperatures rise because these storm systems draw their energy from warming ocean water.” (4) Hurricanes Fiona and Ian both caused disastrous damage in Florida, USA, and Puerto Rico, happening only days apart, in September 2022. Scientists warn that these storms will become more common as our climate warms. (4)

Flooding effects of climate change, Hurricane Delta causes damage to Louisiana, USA's Gulf Coast

Hurricane Delta causes damage to Louisiana, USA's Gulf Coast

Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.1 °C of global warming above pre-industrial levels. This number might not sound like a lot, but in energy terms it’s colossal. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.

Climate change is no longer something that we can set to tackle in the future. The damaging effects of climate change are here. The fact that we’re already at 1.1 °C warming, proves that humanity needs to get ahead of this, and work together to protect the earth we love and hope to keep intact for future generations.  Fortunately, it is not too late, but it is something that needs to be addressed and acted upon now. 

As a business, Croda is committed to becoming Climate positive by 2030. This means reducing our emissions and maximising the use of renewable energy in our operations; transitioning to bio-based products, moving away from fossil or petrochemical feedstocks; and transitioning to a low-carbon economy, developing products that offer carbon-saving benefits in use. 

In the latest episode of ‘Purposeful Beauty™ – What’s Your Purpose?’ our internal carbon experts, Julia Creasy, Group Sustainability Director, and Grant Mitchell, Project Manager - Marketing, discussed some of the actions that can be taken to reduce our emissions in Beauty and Personal Care, and the wider chemicals industry as a whole. 

Listen to the podcast to hear their full conversation:  https://open.spotify.com/episode

How can the chemicals industry address climate change and global warming? 

Being that carbon emissions make up the largest percentage of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, limiting Scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions is a key action that we can put into place to combat further global warming and climate change. 

As a reference: 

Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions generated from burning fuels. For organisations in the chemical industry, these could be the emissions generated by burning natural gas at manufacturing sites, or for consumers, at home in your boiler for heat.

Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions generated when the electricity you consume is produced. Although these emissions are produced offsite, the energy responsible for creating these emissions are owned (purchased) or controlled by the organisation or individual. 

Scope 3 emissions encompass everything else. For the chemicals sector, that’s everything in the supply chain – including the sourcing, production and transportation of raw materials before they reach production sites (upstream), and transportation of the materials as they leave your site (downstream). Even further downstream, Scope 3 emissions can come from the onward use of ingredients or products by customers or final consumers.

We have a lot to do as an industry. We rely on fairly energy intensive processes currently, but progress can be made in various ways across operations. In manufacturing, for example, energy usage may be minimised by adopting alternative, more efficient processes, or perhaps by introducing completely novel methods of manufacture. In terms of general practices, switching company car fleets to hybrid or electric vehicles, or investigating your impact in logistics, shipping, distribution, etc. are all good places to start. For Scope 3, encouraging your supply chain to set targets around emission reductions will help to lower your overall impact. 

How is Croda working to decarbonise? 

Croda, along with many other suppliers and companies in the chemicals sector, are setting Science Based Targets (SBTs). Science Based Targets are emissions reduction targets, aligned with science, that tell us what we need to do to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C. They provide a pathway for companies to “reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, helping prevent the worst impacts of climate change and future-proof business growth.” (5)

Through the use of SBTs we can calculate our carbon budget (amount of carbon emissions we can continue to emit into the atmosphere and still maintain a temperature below 1.5 degrees) and develop a plan (at company or individual level) to achieve the targeted reduction metrics.

At Croda, our Science Based Targets are in place and show that while we need to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 emissions significantly, the biggest job will be engaging with our supply chain and tackling our Scope 3 emissions as this is where a majority of the emissions lie. 

Our 2030 objective is to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 operational emissions by 46.2% and our Scope 3 upstream emissions by 13.5% by 2030 based on a 2018 baseline. The overall result will be a 35% reduction in our average product carbon footprint by 2030.

What is the beauty industry’s role in reducing carbon emissions? 

Croda, along with other suppliers and organisations, cannot make these changes alone. For positive, lasting impact to be made, the beauty industry needs to be transparent and work together

Raw material suppliers, manufacturers, brands, and consumers alike all need to collaborate to find ways to reduce our impact on the Earth. Emissions are passed throughout the supply chain, so we cannot expect to reach our targets without considering and consulting with one another. 

For instance, with personal care end (product) manufacturers, 95% of their emissions are in Scope 3 (6) – so for Beauty brands and end manufacturers to meet their emissions reduction targets, they are reliant on their suppliers and everyone else upstream. The same goes for consumers. Personal, behavioural changes play a massive part in the reduction of emissions for consumers; however, consumers must also be able to trust that the companies they are buying from are sharing accurate and trustworthy data regarding the steps they are taking to combat climate change. 

Perhaps brands could play a larger role in educating the consumer on how to use products in a way that has a reduced carbon impact?  As Grant mentions in the podcast episode, when looking at the environmental footprint of a shampoo – a large amount of the footprint is in the heating of the water in your shower. Building this awareness and education on how the length of time you spend in the shower impacts carbon emissions will help the consumer make informed decisions about their own footprint. 

For manufacturers, there are ingredient swaps that can be made to reduce emissions quite impressively. Using bio-based raw materials is a good example as plants absorb carbon dioxide during growth and only release it upon harvest. Using bio-based raw materials can help to offset the carbon dioxide emissions from natural processes and lower our overall carbon footprint. In addition, switching to Certified Sustainable Palm Oil instead of alternative vegetable oils or unsustainable palm oils decreases deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and greenhouse gas emissions. (7)

There are many other considerations for attempting to minimise our footprint. For example, biotechnology solutions which make use of reduced land and energy profiles in order to synthesise a product, may therefore also have lower associated emissions. Another option is formulating using cold process, where there is less energy used to produce the end product as there is no need to heat ingredients in formulation. 

Sustainable biotechnology solution  

In Beauty Care at Croda, we aim to support our customers in reducing their upstream Scope 3 emissions through the reduction of emissions associated with the manufacture and raw material sourcing of our products. We also aim to support their downstream Scope 3 emissions by helping to reduce the carbon emissions associated with the use of their products by incorporating novel Croda ingredients that were developed to help with emissions reduction in mind – for example, our 100% renewable, 100% bio-based ECO range of surfactants. We consider sustainability and the environment in our product development process because we know that our ingredients can help our customers achieve their sustainability targets and can help push the industry forward in the fight against climate change. Ultimately, by using Croda products, our customers across all sectors will avoid using 4 million tonnes of carbon each year. (8)

What’s next in carbon reduction? 

It’s impossible to stop carbon from being used and emitted, but if any carbon released can be reabsorbed, there’s no net impact on the environment. This is where the term ‘net zero’ comes from – the point where the amount of carbon being emitted is equal to the amount of carbon being reabsorbed. The ambition to move closer to net zero is a radical shift for the chemicals industry, so understanding what our role is and what it means for the full supply chain will take some time. 

Listen to what Julia had to say on the topic: 

What's next in carbon reduction?

Other than reducing carbon emissions, what else can we do to be more sustainable?  

At Croda, our Commitment is to be Climate, Land and People positive by 2030. We’ve also recently announced our ambitions to become Net Nature Positive by 2030 – which means we will work to achieve a future where natural capital is protected and restored, supporting the essential health, wellbeing and prosperity of all. Croda’s Net Nature Positive ambition will be achieved through an increased focus on preserving and restoring natural ecosystems in its supply chains, minimising the water impact of its operations and helping accelerate sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

When looking at climate concerns, versus land concerns, versus people concerns, it’s important to know that there are always trade-offs. What might be beneficial in one area, may not be positive in another. With so many factors to consider, Life Cycle Assessments (a methodology for assessing the environmental impacts associated with all the stages of the life cycle of our products, including their impact on air, land, and water, not just the impact on carbon emissions) can be produced to help provide a more holistic look at the full footprint of products. 

Simply, there is a ton of work to be done, and an urgency in the importance of the work. Sustainability-related changes and improvements can be quite the investment, but they will save us costs down the line in terms of our health and the health of the planet. 

We have ideas. We have solutions. Now, we need to collaborate as a personal care industry and help each other. There are risks to not doing this, but also so many opportunities that arise where we can push barriers, be innovative, and move towards lower-carbon products and applications that will benefit us all. 

 

Sources: 
(1) https://www.greenmatters.com/p/how-do-carbon-emissions-affect-environment 
(2) https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/ 
(3) NatcatSERVICE Munich RE 2021
(4) https://earthjustice.org/features/how-climate-change-is-fueling-extreme-weather 
(5) https://sciencebasedtargets.org/how-it-works 
(6) Source Trucost. State of Green Business Report 2020 © 2020 GreenBiz Group Inc. (www.greenbiz.com).
(7) https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/8-things-know-about-palm-oil 
(8) Croda Sustainability Report: https://www.croda.com/en-gb/sustainability/non-financial-performance-and-reports/sustainability-report/sustainability-report-archive

Croda Sustainability Report 2021

Water ripple on a lake after sunset
7.1 MB
Purple gel heart

Purposeful Beauty™

Through Purposeful Beauty™, we have made it our mission to create ethical and responsible solutions that accelerate the evolution to a more sustainable future, ensuring a positive impact on both people and planet.

Discover our other Sustainability-focused blogs

nature inspired woman with hair over eye holding flowers in sun

Grateful for Mother Nature: Inspired by Natural Beauty

From dietary choices to clean, sustainable brands, the conscious consumer desires a more natural lifestyle, sparking a shift across all industries, including beauty and personal care. Interest in...

Read more

Body Positive Movement: The role of natural cosmetics

The Body Positive social movement has led the major developments in the body care market in the recent years, with the skinification and healthification of cosmetics. Discover how high-performance...

Read more
food including pasta, marshmallows and a dip

Titanium dioxide food ban in Europe explained

UV filters, and their potential impact on human health and the environment, are receiving close scrutiny from regulators across the globe. Whilst use of mineral UV filters is on the rise due to...

Read more
trees in the forest

Sustainability without compromise with ChromaPur CV2 and CV7

Discover our latest products launch ChromaPur CV2 & CV7, that offer a sustainable and functional replacement to plastic microbeads.

Read more
Want to learn more about Purposeful Beauty and our sustainability commitments?