CosmeticsDesign spoke with Ludovic Wassermann, Cosmetics and Personal Care Business Consultant at software centered, on the role software plays in the current push for sustainability and the future of a sustainable personal care market.
How do you see technology adapting to meet sustainability requirements?
When you have sustainability goals, where do you define them? If you don’t have tools, you’ll define them somewhere in an excel spreadsheet or whatever. It’s something you need to define, you need to monitor, you need to implement solutions to make sure you’re meeting your goals, and then you need to report on it.
Of course, there are many things being created for ingredient production, logistics and transportation that will have a direct impact on the environment. Tools are very important.
A simple example of something we’re addressing with our solution is simply collecting the data. It is very important to collect supplier data for our customers. When they get ingredients, they need to know what the carbon footprint of those ingredients is and what their impact is on the environment.
They need to gather this information, store it somewhere, and then they need a tool to process it. In this sense, software is important for setting goals, monitoring and achieving goals, and then reporting them.
What innovations in this technology have you seen in the past two years?
In my opinion, this is the beginning of a similar innovation.
The challenge we have right now is getting our customers to actually get the data. We can implement many great solutions, but if you don’t have the necessary data, that’s a problem.
We have seen new databases emerge. For example, some companies have pooled their resources, L’Oréal, Chanel, Hermès and other companies, to create a solution they call SPICE. It is a database for packaging.
You have other inefficiencies in different markets that create databases because data is the foundation that we need. It is an innovation in itself.
From our side, what we’re basically trying to do is provide the tools to use that data when you’re developing products and making sure the products have the best possible profile.
Can you tell me a bit more about the challenges of data collection?
The challenge is that when our customers try to rely on their packaging suppliers, their ingredient suppliers or their vendors, often the suppliers themselves don’t have the data. If you ask them how much the packaging material weighs, luckily, it’s pretty straightforward.
But if you ask for information such as the exact carbon footprint of this material and the amount of water used to produce this material, they don’t know. It is very complex to obtain this data.
What can still be improved to make this technology more effective?
First, how different markets actually perceive sustainability. Currently, the end goals of sustainability are set by the consumer market. If you look at Europe and the United States, people are now well aware of the problem and they want more suitable products. But if you go to other countries, this is not necessarily the case.
Countries may have different regulations and different industry practices. Markets that have a global supply chain may need to make something work for the United States that relies on other markets that don’t have the same vision.
The hope is also that the entire digital ecosystem of solutions is seamlessly integrated. It’s something that is still new and emerging, so it will take some time before we actually have a stabilized and mature ecosystem that can be interconnected.
What do you see as the next step in the broader sustainability software landscape?
The next step is for companies like ours to be able to actually make that data speak to users. When you create product lifecycle assessments, it’s a complex equation because it’s not just about the weight of packaging and printing that specific label and bottle.
It’s actually all the water used to produce it, the carbon footprint in transportation, the water used by the consumer, and the effort to recycle that bottle. So can it actually be recycled? What is the impact of this product when it falls in the water? There is also the impact on the consumer himself, the person who applies the product to the skin.
It’s a very complex equation and for companies like us who are the solution used to develop the products, our challenge and our future is to provide a tool that helps our customers to consider the whole of this life cycle.
Right now, to be honest, there are a lot of things that aren’t necessarily considered in the whole life cycle of a product. This is something that I consider very important in the future, to have the whole life cycle considered and to have real metrics because we don’t necessarily have them yet.