In November 2020 Ethical Consumer searched the Avon website for an environmental report or policy and downloaded the company's Responsible Business Report 2019.

An environmental policy was deemed necessary to report on a company's environmental performance and set targets for reducing its impacts in the future. A strong policy would include two future, quantified environmental targets, demonstration by the company that it had a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts, be dated within two years and have its environmental data independently verified.

The report discussed climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and sourcing, waste, recycling, water use, packaging, deforestation, animal welfare and the sourcing of raw materials. It also provided performance data on these. It was considered to have demonstrated a reasonable understanding of its main impacts.

The company had a number of targets, including:
- 20% reduction of total GHG emissions from Avon operations on an absolute basis by 2020 compared to 2005, with an added goal of a further 5% reduction by 2025 compared to 2020
- 40% reduction in water intensity by 2020 compared to 2005 with a further 5% reduction in water intensity reduction by 2025 compared to 2020.
- 100% of paper purchased from certified or post-consumer recycled content sources by 2020
- 95% recycling of waste in own operations by 2025

No evidence could be found that the information provided in the report and been independently verified.

Overall, Avon received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for Environmental Reporting and lost half a mark in this category.

Reference:

Responsible Business Report 2019 (2019)

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer searched Avon's website, looking for information on what the company was doing to tackle climate change. The company's Responsible Business Report 2019 was downloaded. Ethical Consumer was looking for the following:

1. For the company to discuss its areas of climate impact, and to discuss plausible ways it has cut them in the past, and ways that it will cut them in the future.

For the company to not be involved in any particularly damaging projects like tar sands, oil or aviation, to not be subject to damning secondary criticism regarding it’s climate actions, and to have relevant sector-specific climate policies in place.

2. For the company to report annually on its scope 1&2 greenhouse gas emissions (direct emissions by the company), and,

3. to go some way towards reporting on its scope 3 emissions (emissions from the supply chain, investments and sold products).

4. For the company to have a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with international agreements (counted as the equivalent of at least 2.5% cut per year in scope 1&2 emissions), and to not count offsetting towards this target.

If a company met all of these criteria it would receive a best rating. If it met parts 1&2 (impacts and annual reporting CO2e) it would receive a middle rating. Otherwise it would receive a worst rating.

The company stated "In 2019, we reduced our GHG emissions by 11.8% compared to 2018 and by 23.2% when compared to 2005 levels, meaning that we exceeded our target of a 20% reduction by 2020. When the purchase of renewable energy is taken into account, our emissions reduced by 52.7% from a 2005 baseline". It also stated that "By the end of 2019, 50% of the energy we used came from renewable sources, verified by I-RECcertificates. Accounting for this, in 2019, we achieved an overall 52.7% reduction in GHG emissions from our 2005 baseline". It stated that it would continue to use renewable energy where possible and provided some specific examples of where it had made energy saving improvements in factories in Brazil and Argentina. However, overall it was not made that clear what the company's strategy for reducing emissions over the coming years was. It was, therefore, not considered to have met part 1.

The company reported its greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 (the company's baseline) and for the previous three years (2017-2019). It defined these as "GHG location-based emissions (metric tons)" but did not clearly stated whether they covered scope 1, 2 and/or 3. It was therefore not considered to have met part 2 or 3.

The company had exceeded its target for 2020 emissions and had a target to reduce emissions by a further 5% between 2020 and 2025. This was not considered adequate as it did not equate to a 2.5% reduction per year. It was not considered to have met part 4.

Overall, the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for carbon management and reporting and lost a whole mark under Climate Change.

Reference:

Responsible Business Report 2019 (2019)

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the Natura Cosmeticos website and Annual Report 2019, and the Natura&Co website and Annual Report 2019, looking for information on what the company was doing to tackle climate change. Ethical Consumer was looking for the following:

1. For the company to discuss its areas of climate impact, and to discuss plausible ways it has cut them in the past, and ways that it will cut them in the future.

For the company to not be involved in any particularly damaging projects like tar sands, oil or aviation, to not be subject to damning secondary criticism regarding it’s climate actions, and to have relevant sector-specific climate policies in place.

2. For the company to report annually on its scope 1&2 greenhouse gas emissions (direct emissions by the company), and,

3. to go some way towards reporting on its scope 3 emissions (emissions from the supply chain, investments and sold products).

4. For the company to have a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with international agreements (counted as the equivalent of at least 2.5% cut per year in scope 1&2 emissions), and to not count offsetting towards this target.

If a company met all of these criteria it would receive a best rating. If it met parts 1&2 (impacts and annual reporting CO2e) it would receive a middle rating. Otherwise it would receive a worst rating.

A document was found titled Sustainability Vision 2030. It stated that the Natura brand had been carbon neutral since 2007. Its website stated this meant reducing emissions, avoiding air freight and offsetting. This appeared to apply to the Natura brand only. The Sustainability Vision document listed its current activity, which appeared to relate to the whole company group as: "Total estimated GHG emissions of between 1,800,000 – 2,200,000 tons CO2 eq. (Currently measures around 450,000 tons CO2 eq. carbon emissions*). Current GHG activity: Renewable energy; Energy efficiency; Lower Carbon Logistics/Distribution Solutions; Offset emissions through carbon credits projects; 1.8 mi hectares of Amazon forest preserved." It laid out goals including continuing work to protect the Amazon from deforestation and acheiving net zero accross the group by 2030. The company's Annual Report 2019 also discussed the company's steps to protect the Amazon Rainforest, the use of renewable energy, reducing air freight and working to streamline logistics as well as reducing greenhouse gas emission in general. The company was considered to have met part 1.

Natura Cosmeticos was reporting on its Scope 1, 2 and 3 annual CO2e emissions. It stated: "Our greenhouse gas emissions inventory takes into account total emissions from all stages of our operation, from the extraction of raw materials, through our processes and those in our production chains, to the final disposal of post-consumer packaging". However, these were only reported in the Natura Cosmeticos Annual Report (and not the Natura&Co Annual Report) and stated that it applied only to Natura Cosmeticos and did not include the activities of its wholly owned subsidiairies Aesop and the Body Shop which were addressed in the Natura&Co Annual Report 2019. It also stated that it did not include Avon which still reported separately. Further to this its CO2e emissions data stated that it did not apply to operations in France, the US or Malaysia.
Natura&Co did not report emissions in its Annual Report. However, its Vision 2030 document stated "Total estimated GHG emissions of between 1,800,000 – 2,200,000 tons CO2 eq. (Currently measures around 450,000 tons CO2 eq. carbon emissions*)". It was not made clear what scopes these emissions figures refered to. Natura was not considered to be adequately reporting its scope 1, 2 or 3 emissions for the whole company group.

The company had a goal of acheiving net zero emissions by 2030. It also had a goal of setting "Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) for all companies, scopes 1, 2 and 3" within the next two years. A target for a "33% reduction in the company’s relative emissions by 2020 on 2012 emissions" was also found but this was just for the Natura brand and also referred to relative emissions rather than absolute. It, therefore, did not appear to currently have a target to reduce absolute emissions in line with international agreements and was not considered to meet part 4.

Overall, Natura received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for carbon management and reporting and lost a whole mark under Climate Change.

Reference:

Sustainability Vision 2030 (16 November 2020)

In November 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's of Natura's subsidiary brands the Body Shop, Aesop and Avon.

The Body Shop
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. A questionnaire response received from the Body Shop in November 2020 stated "In 2015 we removed microbeads from all our products. We're working hard to remove microplastics from our existing products too, which will take some time. We're committed to keeping our customers informed on our progress."

Aesop
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".

Avon
No information on microplastics could be found on the Avon website nor in its Responsibility Report 2019. A number of products were said to contain 'special polymers'.

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:

Natura 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)

Natura Cosméticos, the Brazilian-based owner of brands such as Ekos and Chronos, 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.

With a deadline given on its website as between 2016 and 2017, the company stated: “Natura does not use polyethelene spheres as exfoliating agents,” and gave “vegetal prime matters” as the alternative it would use.

Scoring 300 out of 400 ranking joint 3rd in the report, Natura was considered to have fallen short of an acceptable standard because its microbead definition was too narrow:
1. It was limited to just a single plastic type - polyethylene - rather than all types;
2. Only the use of microbeads as an exfoliant in products was covered by the definition, rather than all possible functions;
3. It was silent about whether or not there was a size limit on the microbead.

Natura had a further restriction in that its definition of microbeads only applied to a certain shape - spheres - used in products, rather than all.

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. Ethical Consumer searched for further information in November 2020 but the company had not submitted any more recent ACOPs to the RSPO so the following rating remained unchanged.

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 and lost a whole mark under Palm Oil.

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)