In March 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the Avon Products inc website for details on its environmental policies and practices.

A section of the website on the environment was found, and a report called "responsible business - 2018 update". It discussed greenhouse gas emissions, waste, water and use of materials. Elsewhere on the company's website there was discussion of some toxic chemicals. The company was thus felt to have a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts.

The website contained many dated quantified targets which included "By 2020, our goal is to reduce absolute GHG emissions from Avon operations by 20 percent from 2005 baseline levels." and "By 2020, our goal is to reduce water intensity—water consumption per Avon manufacturing facility—by 40 percent from 2005 baseline levels."

No evidence could be found of any external verification of environmental data.

Due to the lack of independent verification, Avon received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for its environmental reporting.

Reference:

Avon website (4 March 2020)

In March 2020 Ethical Consumer searched for information on the Body Shop's policies and practices with regard to its use of the hazardous chemicals parabens, triclosan and phthalates.

Some forms or uses of these chemicals are banned or restricted in the EU or the USA. Triclosan is an antibacterial and is a suspected endocrine disruptor. Parabens are also endocrine disruptors and have been linked to breast cancer and are used as preservatives. Phthalates, usually DEP or DBP, are used in fragrances and are endocrine disruptors. A strong policy on toxics would be no use of these chemicals or clear, dated targets for ending their use.

The following statements were found:

“80% of our products are paraben free so we can offer a broad choice for everyone. In addition, we are currently in the process of removing parabens from all of our products and are aiming to be paraben free over the next few years.”

"None of our products contain any phthalates."

No information could be found on triclosan, but the company had in October 2017 replied to a questionnaire saying "We have never used triclosan", and no information could be found that contradicted that, so it was assumed to still be the case.

The Body Shop had a good policy on Triclosan and Phthalates, but its policy on parabens was regarded as inadequate as it did not give a clear date for when it would have phased out use of parabens in all its products. It received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for its toxic chemicals policy.

Reference:

Body Shop website (4 March 2020)

In April 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the Natura Cosmeticos company website where there was no mention of microplastics or liquid polymers.

Ethical Consumer also viewed the website of Natura brands The Body Shop and Aesop. In the FAQs of both it stated that polyethylene microbeads are not used in any products. An ingredient search showed that some Body Shop products contained acrylates copolymer and carbomer, two substances considered liquid polymers. Aesop stated "We utilise Acrylates Copolymer in Geranium Leaf Body Scrub and Reverence Aromatique Hand Wash, as a gelling agent to ensure the physical exfoliants they contain are dispersed evenly throughout the formulation. The Acrylates Copolymer used in these products is biodegradable according to European Commission Directives." However, Ethical Consumer did not consider Acrylate copolymers to be readily biodegradable in the aquatic environment.

According to Code Check, the valid method for evaluation of "ready biodegradability" is the OECD 301 standard. This method is accepted under REACH* as a means to evaluate biodegradation organic chemicals such as microplastics/microbeads (also known as solid polymer/plastic particles) and soluble polymers (i.e. acrylate copolymers). There are multiple other methods currently used to make biodegradability claims which should not be used to conclude "ready biodegradability".

Ethical Consumer also viewed the website of Natura brand Avon. No information on microplastics could be found. As there was no information on microplastics and liquid polymers to be found at UHC level, and thus covering all of the Natura Brands, the company was therefore considered to have no policy on this issue.

According to Beat the Microbead, there are more than 500 known microplastics ingredients that can be found in our personal care products such as toothpastes, face washes, scrubs and shower gels. They are tiny plastic particles that are added for their exfoliating properties, but sometimes purely for aesthetic purposes only.

According to a recent report by Code Check, non-biodegradable liquid polymers were also prevalent across a wide range of cosmetic products. Like microplastics, these materials degrade with a similar difficulty in the environment and may cause similar harm.

In 2018, the UK government banned the use of microbeads in toothpastes, shower gels and facial scrubs. However, some products classified as “leave on” were not subject to the ban, this would include lotions, sun cream and makeup, as well as abrasive cleaning products. This ban did not extend to non-biodegradable liquid polymers.

Given that the company lacked a clear policy on the use of microplastics and non-biodegradable liquid polymers across all of its products, it lost half a mark under Pollution and Toxics.

Reference:

Naura website (3 March 2020)

American-based cosmetic company Avon was one of the world’s 30 biggest cosmetics and personal care companies investigated by Greenpeace East Asia (GEA) in a report dated July 2016, which ranked the companies on their commitment to tackling the issue of microbeads in their products.

Microbeads are a type of microplastic that can be found in our personal care products such as toothpastes, face washes, scrubs and shower gels. They are tiny plastic particles that are added for their exfoliating properties, but sometimes purely for aesthetic purposes only.

The four main criteria used by GEA were:

1. Commitment & information transparency: Did the company have commitment on microbeads? Was it publicly available and easy to access?
2. Definition: How did the company define microbeads for their commitment?
3. Deadline: When would the company meet their commitment?
4. Application scope: Did the commitment cover all products in all markets?

Each company was scored by GEA based on their responses to a Greenpeace survey, as well as any publicly available information. Each criterion was weighted equally and scored out of 100, to give a final maximum score out of 400.

On the company website Avon had defined microbeads as “… any intentionally added, 5 mm or less, water insoluble, solid plastic particle used to exfoliate or cleanse in rinse-off personal care products." The company had made the commitment: “Avon will no longer use synthetic plastic microbeads as exfoliants and cleansing agents in the development of new rinse-off products such as face and body washes”, with a deadline set for 2017.

In scoring 320 out of 400 coming joint second in the report, Avon’s commitment was found to have fallen short of an acceptable standard because it was too narrow:

1. It applied to microbeads designed for a certain function - exfoliation or cleansing - rather than all functions;
2. It applied to certain types of product that were designed to be rinsed- off, rather than all products.

As a result, Avon was marked down in the Pollution and Toxics category.

Reference:

Global Cosmetics & Personal Care Companies' Microbead Commitment Ranking (July 2016)

Forest 500, ‘the world’s first rainforest rating agency’, is a project of the Global Canopy Programme. In 2019, it published its fifth annual ranking. It ranks 350 of the biggest companies in forest-risk supply chains and the 150 biggest investors in these companies.

Tropical rainforests cover 7% of the earth, but contain 50% of global biodiversity. Their ecosystems regulate global water systems and the climate, and they directly support the livelihoods of over a billion people. The social and economic benefits of these services are estimated to be in the trillions.

Over two thirds of tropical deforestation is driven by the production of a handful of commodities including; palm oil, soya, timber, paper and pulp, beef, and leather. These commodities are in products we use every day and are present in more than 50% of the packaged products in our
supermarkets.

Companies and financial institutions had been assessed and ranked in respect to their policies addressing potential deforestation embedded in forest-risk commodity supply chains. The 2018 report stated that "the Forest 500 methodology was updated in 2018 to better distinguish between companies who have set commitments, and those that have taken the next step towards implementation. This new methodology has meant that many companies have received lower scores this year." A document on the 2019 methodology stated that had been updated again to better align with the guidance of the Accountability Framework, a set of norms and guidance on ethical supply chains developed by a coalition of civil society partners. Three new indicators were added and two indicators were updated.

The Forest 500 ranking and analysis will be repeated annually until 2020, to help inform, enable and track progress towards deforestation free supply chains.

Each company was rated from 0-5, across five categories:

Natura Cosmeticos was one of the 350 companies rated in the 2019 report.

It received an overall score of 2. Its scores in each category were as follows:
Overall Approach 1 out of 5

Commodity Score (palm, paper & pulp) 3 out of 5

Commitment Strength 3 out of 5

Reporting and implementation 2 out of 5

Social Considerations 2 out of 5

The company had not signed up to the following collective commitments:

New York Declaration on Forests signatory
Consumer Goods Forum member

As it had scored under 4 overall, it lost half a mark under Habitats and Resources.

Reference:

Forest 500 - 2019 ranking (2019)

Forest 500, ‘the world’s first rainforest rating agency’, is a project of the Global Canopy Programme. In 2019, it published its fifth annual ranking. It ranks 350 of the biggest companies in forest-risk supply chains and the 150 biggest investors in these companies.

Tropical rainforests cover 7% of the earth, but contain 50% of global biodiversity. Their ecosystems regulate global water systems and the climate, and they directly support the livelihoods of over a billion people. The social and economic benefits of these services are estimated to be in the trillions.

Over two thirds of tropical deforestation is driven by the production of a handful of commodities including; palm oil, soya, timber, paper and pulp, beef, and leather. These commodities are in products we use every day and are present in more than 50% of the packaged products in our
supermarkets.

Companies and financial institutions had been assessed and ranked in respect to their policies addressing potential deforestation embedded in forest-risk commodity supply chains. The 2018 report stated that "the Forest 500 methodology was updated in 2018 to better distinguish between companies who have set commitments, and those that have taken the next step towards implementation. This new methodology has meant that many companies have received lower scores this year." A document on the 2019 methodology stated that had been updated again to better align with the guidance of the Accountability Framework, a set of norms and guidance on ethical supply chains developed by a coalition of civil society partners. Three new indicators were added and two indicators were updated.

The Forest 500 ranking and analysis will be repeated annually until 2020, to help inform, enable and track progress towards deforestation free supply chains.

Each company was rated from 0-5, across five categories:

Avon Products was one of the 350 companies rated in the 2019 report.

It received an overall score of 2. Its scores in each category were as follows:
Overall Approach 1 out of 5

Commodity Score (palm, paper & pulp) 3 out of 5

Commitment Strength 3 out of 5

Reporting and implementation 2 out of 5

Social Considerations 2 out of 5

The company had not signed up to the following collective commitments:

New York Declaration on Forests signatory
Consumer Goods Forum member

As it had scored under 4 overall, it lost half a mark under Habitats and Resources.

Reference:

Forest 500 - 2019 ranking (2019)

In March 2020 Ethical Consumer searched the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil website for information on Avon's performance. The company was a member and had submitted the latest Annual Communication on Progress (ACOP) for 2018.

The figures disclosed volumes of palm products used in the period, and showed that 31% were covered by the RSPO book and claim certification mechanism, and the remainder was not certified.

The company stated:

"In 2018, in partnership with Earthworm foundation, we focused our sustainable palm oil efforts and invested financially in traceability within our supply chain, targeting 10 key suppliers..By the end of 2018, we engaged with all 10 of our key suppliers and had 69% traceability to mill information. We also contributed funds to Earthworm foundation to deliver transformation work in plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia to ensure worker rights and helping children in plantations as well as NDPE awareness and compliance within our supply chain. Because we could trace 69% of our PO supply to mill and having helped fund the above mentioned transformation projects, in 2018 we purchased credits amounting to 31% of our PO supply that we could not yet trace to mill."

Overall the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its palm oil policy.

Reference:

Avon 2018 ACOP (4 March 2020)

In March 2015 the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) published a report called 'Fries, Face Wash, Forests:
Scoring America’s Top Brands on Their Palm Oil Commitments.' The report was an updated version of its 2014 report ‘Donuts, Deoderants, Deforestation: Scoring America’s Top Brands on Their Palm Oil Commitments.’

The report noted that palm oil production had contributed to climate change through the destruction of carbon-rich tropical forests and peatlands. It also highlighted exploitation within the industry, particularly child labour, poverty wages and dangerous working conditions, and the violation of indigenous land rights.

The report evaluated the same 30 firms across three sectors (packaged food, personal care, and fast food), scoring them on the extent of their global commitments to use palm oil that is deforestation-free, peat-free, and traceably and transparently sourced. In addition it had added a new sector, scoring the top ten largest supermarket, pharmacy, and discount companies based on their sourcing commitments for their storebrand products, bringing the total to 40 companies examined.

Companies scoring more than 60 overall were deemed to have a ‘strong commitment’, those scoring 36-59 were classed as having ‘some commitment’, those with 35 or less were described as having ‘little commitment’ and those scoring 0 were considered to have ‘no commitment’.

Avon received a score of 20 and was considered by UCS to have a little commitment to sourcing palm oil sustainably.

Reference:

Fries, Face Wash, Forests: Scoring America’s Top Brands on Their Palm Oil Commitments (March 2015)