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Richard Scott – Personal Care Mike Martinez – Natural Plant Products, US

Getting to grips with sustainability

It is perhaps a sign how consumer habits have evolved over the past decade that businesses are now more concerned with attitudes towards ‘sustainability’ rather than just ‘green’ issues. This is a definite move forward, because rather than using the two words interchangeably, consumers are starting to understand that it is not enough simply to use natural or green products. The whole life cycle of a product, including transportation and eventual disposal, must be considered along with its general impact on both the natural environment and people who live in the area where the ingredients are sourced.

Natural ingredients continue to dominate formulations across many sectors of the personal care market, largely due to consumer desire for the invigorating freshness and purity of natural products. History has shown that sudden demand for natural ingredients can have a severe adverse impact on communities and the environment due to over-exploitation, so it is important to be confident that any natural ingredients that go into personal care products have are genuinely sustainable and do not harm the communities and environment they come from.

There are many ways to ensure that an ingredient is sustainable, with organisations such as Fair Trade, Organic Monitor, and the Union of Ethical Biotrade either providing accreditation or promoting the ethical and sustainable sourcing of natural ingredients within the personal care industry. The concept of sustainability is still, in relative terms, in its infancy, so new guidelines, new terminology, and new targets are a regular occurrence. But keeping up-to-date with sustainability not only makes good ecological sense, but also creates a sound bedrock for industry; being sustainable means businesses are thinking long-term. Personal Care spoke to Mike Martinez, CEO of Natural Plant Products, about their approach to sustainability and producing natural personal care ingredients. NPP comprises a cooperative of farmers primarily producing meadowfoam seed oil and is based in Salem, Oregon.

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certification but it is not currently available to companies that do not grow in third world countries. NPP exists to bring value to our member farms through market penetration and research and development of new crops for their rotational farming.

PC: How does the concept of sustainability impact on the way NPP operates? MM: This depends on how you interpret the word sustainability. We look at it in the traditional sense of the three-pronged approach of environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Given our cooperative nature, the farmers have a vested interest in the environmental impacts of their farming practices from generation to generation. They work hard to minimise the environmental impacts of farming practices for example, by using no-till planting. Our structure as a cooperative is inherently socially responsible. We have sought fair trade

PC: The unusual properties of meadowfoam were only discovered in the 1960s. Could you describe these properties and describe how meadowfoam seed oil has it made its mark on the personal care market over the last few decades? MM: Meadowfoam seed oil is noted for its distinct chemistry, which is based primarily on C20 and C22 fatty acid chains. These fatty acids impart an extraordinary level of oxidative stability to the oil and contribute to meadowfoam seed oil’s rich skin feel. It has become a supply-assured emollient that provides formulators with good stability and performance in skin, hair, and lip applications.

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