Sustainable ingredient sourcing is of paramount importance in the makeup industry, as it plays a significant role in minimizing environmental impact and promoting ethical practices. Unethical practices contribute to environmental degradation through deforestation, habitat destruction, and pollution, while also perpetuating exploitative labor practices.
Addressing these impacts and transitioning towards sustainable ingredient sourcing is essential for the cosmetics industry to mitigate environmental damage, promote social responsibility, and maintain the trust of consumers. By adopting sustainable practices, companies can not only minimize their negative impacts but also contribute positively to environmental conservation and community development.
The unethical mining of mica has often been the topic of controversy. Mica is a mineral commonly used in cosmetics to add shimmer and sparkle to products. However, the mining of mica is often associated with unethical labor practices, including child labor and unsafe working conditions. To address this issue, responsible cosmetic companies are actively seeking alternative sources of mica or collaborating with suppliers that adhere to strict ethical guidelines, ensuring that the mica used in their products is obtained in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.
In line with Sensient’s Sustainability Strategy, Sensient Beauty is proud to be part of The Responsible Mica Initiative since its launch in 2017. The Responsible Mica Initiative (RMI) is a global multi-stakeholder initiative focused on eradicating child labor and improving working conditions in the mica supply chain. Mica is a mineral widely used in various industries, including cosmetics, for its shimmering and reflective properties. However, the mining of mica is associated with significant social and environmental challenges, particularly the exploitation of child labor in some regions including India and Madagascar.
A significant portion of mica collection in India occurs through illicit mining operations in the eastern states of Jharkhand and Bihar. These illegal mines exploit over 20,000 children, subjecting them to severe and challenging working conditions in order to support their families financially. Similarly, in the southern regions of Madagascar, approximately 10,000 children work alongside their families in informal mines. The absence of proper control and traceability mechanisms in these countries allows for mica of unknown origin, which may have been collected by children or under unacceptable working conditions, to infiltrate the supply chain.
The initiative works towards its goals through several key strategies. It focuses on mapping the mica supply chain to identify and address risks, raising awareness about the issue of child labor and unsafe working conditions, and implementing sustainable sourcing practices.
40% of Sensient’s mica are sourced from India and we take steps to ensure that 100% of the mica produced can be traced to the primary mica processor to ensure a responsible and sustainable mica supply chain, free from exploitative child labor.
As a member of RMI, Sensient Beauty attends annual assemblies, collecting, analyzing and sharing data of our mica sourcing in India. RMI actively promotes responsible workplaces and fair wages for mica miners but it doesn’t stop there. There are also efforts to support the community, address poverty, improve education while raising the standards of healthcare and other social services. A clear legal framework is also developed to protect mica miners and to establish child protection laws to ensure a legitimate supply chain for mica miners.
Palm oil and its derivatives are commonly used in cosmetics for various purposes, including as emollients, surfactants, stabilizers, and antioxidants. They provide moisturization, cleansing properties, texture enhancement, and preservation benefits to cosmetic products. However, the use of palm oil raises concerns due to its association with deforestation, habitat destruction, and environmental degradation.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a globally recognized certification body and multi-stakeholder initiative that that boasts over 5,000 members globally. Its mission is to transform the palm oil industry into an environmentally and socially responsible sector. The RSPO sets standards and criteria for sustainable palm oil production, including guidelines for protecting forests, conserving biodiversity, and upholding the rights of workers and local communities.
Sensient Beauty is a member of the RSPO and is dedicated to sourcing and using sustainable palm oil in its operations. As part of its commitment, Sensient works closely with RSPO-certified suppliers to ensure that the palm oil and its derivatives used in their products are sourced sustainably. This includes verifying the origin of the palm oil, ensuring compliance with RSPO standards, and supporting the principles of no deforestation, no planting on peatlands, and respect for human rights. As part of its ongoing efforts for sustainability, Sensient Beauty aims to use 100% RSPO-certified mass balance palm oil derivatives by the year 2024. You can view our palm oil free ingredients here.
To find out more about Sensient’s commitment to the environment and community, and the other initiatives which form our sustainability pillars, click here.