Lush has taken a strong approach to sectors where human rights abuses have been exposed. Following reports of child and forced labour in mica supply chains, Lush stopped using the mineral in its products. It has also taken a positive approach to palm oil, the production of which has lead to land grabs and abuses of indigenous rights, and received our best rating for its palm oil sourcing.
Lush received Ethical Consumer’s middle rating for Supply Chain Management. It took a reasonable approach to addressing difficult issues in the supply chain, for example by providing ethics training to all suppliers. However, it actually supply chain policy, outlining expected workers’ rights, was rudimentary as was its auditing and reporting, and its stakeholder engagement was poor. It also had operations in Kazhakstan and Russia and owned 75% of a company in Saudi Arabia, as of 2016. The company was therefore likely to be paying taxes to the oppressive regimes in these countries.
Unfortunately, Lush’s approach to the environment was not as strong as to other areas. Although its environmental reporting demonstrated a good understanding of impacts, it had not set any quantifiable environmental targets for the future, and for this reason received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating.
It also scored a middle rating for its toxic chemicals policy, but a best for palm oil sourcing. In 2017, the company stated that it was no longer using palm oil or palm kernel oil, and was in the process of removing palm oil derivatives from all products. “One of our biggest opportunities to remove palm oil from ingredients was in our soap base, which is manufactured in the UK and used to be palm oil based. We worked with the manufacturer to get them to develop palm free soap flakes and palm free soap noodles for us that we now use as standard globally.”
Lush’s real ethical strength is animal rights. The company only sells cruelty-free cosmetics. Their own products are not tested on animals and they will not buy any ingredient tested on an animals since June 2007. The company also does not use suppliers involved in animal testing, and provides training on alternative methods to suppliers. The company received Ethical Consumer’s best rating for animal testing. It is also vegetarian across the board and in 2016 85% of all year range was certified vegan.
It also has strong policies addressing politically controversial behaviour. It is Fair Tax Mark accredited, demonstrating that it pays its taxes. It also did not fund controversial technologies, despite being a sunscreen producer. Nanotechnology is ubiquitous in the manufacture of sunscreens. However in 2017, Lush contracted Ethical Consumer stating that it did not use nanotechnology in its products.