Published: 30 January 2024  (Updated: 01 February 2024)

2024 Predictions: Future-proofing Profits, People and Our Planet

By Emma Meredith, Director-General, CTPA

Given the challenges of recent years, at home and abroad, cosmetics and personal care companies in the UK could be forgiven for making short-term decisions that simply steady the ship. However, working alongside our members and partners this year, I’ve felt privileged to see quite the opposite: all around I have witnessed plans being made for the long-term health and wellbeing of our sector, our consumers and our planet.

This year my 2024 predictions have a future-proofing twist. Here are five ways the cosmetics and personal care industry’s long-term thinking will bring benefits to companies, consumers and our planet this year and beyond…

1.  Restating our essential credentials

With a General Election looming and the likelihood of new faces and new agendas within Government, whatever its outcome, 2024 will be the year for our industry to restate its essentiality credentials to political and regulatory stakeholders. It’s time for our industry to step up and be counted, not only for the sizable contribution we make to UK GDP but to individuals of all ages, stages and backgrounds who benefit from the important ‘lift’ our products give them. More than 8 in 10 UK adults (84%) say they get a self-esteem boost from using toiletries for hygiene purposes.

It’s why the essential nature of our industry will be the central theme of CTPA’s first ever Manifesto for the sector, which will launch officially in Q1, 2024. This will call for a compelling, long-term strategy for the UK’s vibrant cosmetics and personal care sector - spanning science, regulation, sustainability and business - which recognises the vital (but too easily overlooked) role our products play in people’s health and wellbeing.

2.  Cleaning up our green claims act

Next year we’re expecting to see outcomes from the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) review into green claims across FMCG goods, including products from our sector.

As part of the CTPA confidential one-to-one meetings with members on their sustainability actions, we know companies are taking positive and resolute action.  CTPA will be working alongside member companies to help them to navigate the CMA findings. This might be ensuring they steer clear of greenwashing, but it could equally be avoiding “greenhushing” at a time when it’s vital for companies to share their progress.  I personally feel strongly that relying on a short claim on pack to tell a holistic sustainability story (something the CMA will be keen to see) is a considerable challenge.  Ensuring the same rigour on green claims as should be applied for any cosmetic claim is vital for ensuring trust in our industry and its products in the long-term, so will be high on the sector’s agenda in 2024.  CTPA is here to support members on this important topic.

3.   Getting down to data with Defra

Conversations will continue apace with Defra to ensure that UK REACH is not only proportionate but also pragmatic and practical for UK companies. In particular, it will be vital to iron out some of the current challenges surrounding safety data that could lead to costly and prohibitive processes in the long-term.

As it stands, legal conflict could currently prevent UK companies from accessing and submitting pre-existing safety data on ingredients registered in the EU. Companies would need to replicate the data submitted to the EU or purchase it simply for the purposes of UK REACH. Either of these options would come at a huge cost to companies - and with no safety benefit to the end consumer or the environment. It’s why we are pleased that Defra is looking at another, more workable model and expect this to continue to be a hot topic well into 2024.

4.  Sustainable growth by design

One of the key themes of our Sustainability Summit this year was the need to bake sustainable thinking into new product development right from the initial idea stage. It has been really reassuring to see how many brands are making that shift. This is a trend we expect to see continue at high speed into the coming year as companies of all shapes and sizes seek to expedite progress on the pressing challenge of our time.

CTPA is building a sustainable design hub to support our members and the industry as a whole to make this shift to long-term thinking - whether it’s when they conceive a new product or reformulate an existing one. Either way, it will have to happen - and in a timely way - because the only companies that will be able to keep growing will be those that can do so sustainably.

5.  Going global with non-animal science

Lastly, because building a sustainable future must be as much about ethical practices as protecting our environment, it would be remiss not to highlight the growing importance of non-animal science, not simply within our industry in the UK, but beyond. It’s why our industry’s ongoing, ground-breaking work into animal-free science, also known as New Approach Methodologies (NAMs), will continue to be vital in the coming year.

Even though in the UK, cosmetics and personal care companies voluntarily moved away from all animal testing in 1997, there is important work to do to ensure that NAMs are embraced globally - and adopted outside of our sector too. We must ensure, for instance, that up-coming reviews of UK and EU chemicals regulation don’t create unnecessary requirements for animal data, and will be continuing to engage regulators on this pressing issue.

When it comes to non-animal alternatives, I think it’s fair to say that our sector has led the way in long-term thinking and action, so it’s a source of pride that this work continues, and in such a collaborative way that extends well beyond our UK sector’s boundaries.

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