Held by Organic Monitor, Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, which comes to São Paulo in September, showed in New York new technologies for sustainability.

Discussions centred on the safety aspects of cosmetics, building closed loop systems, prospects for a sustainability standard, use of nanomaterials, and emerging green ingredients.

There was also calls to develop ‘closed loop systems’ for waste. Anita Kedia of Waste Management said cosmetic companies should consider developing zero-waste systems if they wanted to become truly sustainable enterprises. And more exotic ideas: Joshua Scott Onysko, founder of Pangea Organics, stated his brand has a closed loop for its packaging. By placing seeds in its molded fiber packaging, the brand enables customers to grow plants from the packaging.

Another idea came from  UL Information & Insights which made the case for a sustainability standard for personal care products. Citing GoodGuide as an example, the organization said such a standard could rate products on health, environmental, and social criteria. Apart from helping consumer choose safe personal care products, the standard would also provide greater transparency to retailers and consumers.

Jaydee Hanson from the International Center for Technology Assessment expressed concerns about nanoparticles in cosmetics. He believes the US industry should follow the ‘precautionary principle’ for this new technology. Mirexus Biotechnologies stated the benefits of using nanotechnology. Giving the example of its nano-glycogen material, the Canadian company said the technology can create new natural ingredients.

With growing concerns about contentious ingredients in the cosmetics industry, details were given of a number of new green alternatives to squalene and polyethylene beads. Amyris showed how it is developing squalane from the biological fermentation of sugar cane. Sophim stated it is using olive oil to raw material produce its squalane.

Finally Jordan Quinn from Vantage Specialty Chemicals outlined the range of green alternatives to polyethylene beads. His company believes polymer-free jojoba beads are the way forward for sustainable exfoliants.