How to report on sustainability
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

How to report on sustainability

Eva Lagarde

Coty has just released its sustainability report, and more reports will be released on the market soon. These reports offer a different interpretation on what brands and companies are actively doing or changing when it comes to sustainability actions.


Business model

There are many ways you can look into sustainability. One of the common conceptions is to look at the triple bottom line: People, Planet and Profit (3P). I would even replace the word profit for prosperity, as it has a broader meaning that covers more than just financial gain.

Photo by Tobias Keller / Unsplash

Geka, german manufacturer of cosmetic packaging & cosmetics applicators, has developed a new sustainability strategy from 2020, with two main focus, carbon footprint and plastic reduction, with the 3P at the core of decision making. The approach must “ impact all spheres of the business: Design, Material, Operation, Product packing ” indicates Maxime Dairmont, former Sustainability Officer at Geka.

In its report Geka explains how they impact Profit, Planet and People with clear figures and targets, such as disclosure of their CDP rating for their Profit impact (CDP offers an environmental reporting on financial results). On the Planet front Geka intends to reduce its CO2 emissions by 30% in 2025 compared to the 2019 baseline, and are doing this in investing in new machinery and improved manufacturing techniques, reduction of water usage, and also in using Recycled (PCR - Post Consumer Recycled) content in their packaging and moving away from detrimental decorations. On the People side, Geka is giving to at least one local community per year, amongst other actions.

Note that these targets, although communicated separately with “ People, Profit, Planet ” are all connected. It’s about integrated sustainability when moving from a linear to a circular economy. “It starts with Design, then Material also Operations and Packaging of the final product “ explains Dairmont.

Talk to consumers

With beauty brands, the message is getting very specific as well, with clear targets and results on the advancement of these targets. When reading the brands reports we have a sense that they are just not drafted for investors but also with the consumers in mind, since these contents are made public.

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Coty gives a “ target to reduce total packaging by 20% by 2030 against calendar year 2019 baseline. They measure this across Coty, aiming for an average weight reduction of 20% in packaging gram per millilitre of product manufactured.”

e.l.f. indicates that their “ Board is 56% women and 33% diverse, and are proud to be one of only 26 public companies listed in the United States where members of underrepresented demographic groups represent at least a third of the Board (out of nearly 4,500 public companies - Source: MSCI ESG Ratings). The American company goes on to explain how continuous education, learning and sharing helps them achieve these results.

Beauty companies are giving really clear targets and explaining how they intend to achieve them.

Make it clear 

Something that companies seem to have understood: simplify the information and make it digestible. It’s probably the best way to avoid greenwashing. Be clear on what you are actually achieving, and where you are heading. Even though not all consumers will read these in detail, at least the level of information is getting better and clearer.

Just a side note. The disclosure of good actions doesn't clear brands from negative activities, and consumers will keep looking at the bigger picture to attest of brands' green credentials. And if not consumers, green NGOs a scrutinising brands actions and disclosing ratings and reports. So keep up with the good work on the overall impact of your business!