From today, Emma Lewisham is sharing her intellectual property industry-wide in a bid to reduce beauty waste. Photo / Supplied

Emma Lewisham Is Sharing Her Trade Secrets With The Entire Beauty Industry

It’s a matter of collaboration over competition for the skincare founder, who says she believes the future of beauty requires the industry to come together to design out waste 

Emma Lewisham has spent the past 18 months researching and developing ways to better improve her brand, only to give it all away. 

Starting today, the 100 per cent natural skincare label is laying all of its cards on the table, revealing its circular blueprints with beauty brands on a global scale in a bid to accelerate the shift towards a planet-positive, circular beauty model — a first for the beauty industry. 

It’s completely unheard of in beauty land — a brand publicly releasing its trade secrets in order to better the industry as a whole. But for Lewisham, the urgency and importance for industry-wide change far outweigh any personal or financial gain. 

“We genuinely want to see change. The problems we face are so much greater than the success of one business or brand, and if we are going to solve them, collaboration is key,” Emma says.

“We must tear down the barriers of competition once and for all — unifying around a greater vision where future generations may thrive. This has to be the future of beauty.”

Emma is inviting brands, big and small, to utilise the 18 months of research and development her and her team underwent to establish a truly circular business model. Photo / Supplied

Emma Lewisham's intellectual property for its 100 per cent circular designed product packaging and carbon positive model is now available at Emmalewisham.com/beauty-blueprint, enabling small and large competitors alike to benefit from the brand's investment to implement widespread change within the industry.

This beauty blueprint extends to all of Emma Lewisham's extensive research, processes and innovations, ranging from refill designs, sterilising processes, recycling and returns processes, packaging supplier connections, “take back” procedures to carbon calculation guides.

This announcement is flanked by three other notable achievements, with the brand revealing an endorsement by iconic environmentalist, ethologist and United Nations Messenger of Peace, Dr Jane Goodall; its new 100 per cent circular designed, refillable product range; and news of its status as the world’s first carbon-positive beauty brand.

Dr Jane Goodall has written a personal letter endorsing Emma's effort, the first-ever for a beauty brand. Photo / Michael Collopy

The 87-year-old is best known for her contributions to primatology and anthropology, and this endorsement is the first time she’s ever endorsed a beauty brand (let alone one from little old New Zealand). It reads:

“To Whom It May Concern.

Our Planet Earth is in a critical state. The damage we are inflicting on the environment has already had terrible consequences that will affect future generations for many years.

Fortunately, there are companies that are working to create positive change. New Zealand beauty brand, Emma Lewisham, is demonstrating what it means to be a truly sustainable business. Through their carbon positive and circular business model, Emma Lewisham is creating environmental prosperity and showing their peers that this business model is not just possible but paramount if we are to make a meaningful difference.

Emma Lewisham may be setting a new benchmark in beauty, but they are also setting a benchmark for how all industries should be operating – circular, waste-free and carbon positive. I wholeheartedly endorse Emma Lewisham’s Beauty Circle and all the systems they have put in place as a business striving to make the world a better place.

I admire Emma Lewisham’s passion for creating lasting change. Sharing their sustainability IP industry-wide is a powerful step, and I urge all brands to follow their lead. When someone reaches out with a helping hand, I always hope that it can be taken. This is when true change begins – when we work together.

The greatest danger to our future is apathy. I sincerely hope that the beauty industry can follow Emma Lewisham’s lead. I believe they are paving the way for the future.”

Emma says she and her team are "doing the work" to ensure emissions are not only offset, but minimised as much as possible, too. Photo / Supplied

The substantial environmental footprint of the beauty industry has been Emma’s catch-cry from the outset — it produces 120 billion units of waste annually, the majority of which is unable to be collected as part of curbside recycling.

It’s a vicious cycle of take-use-dispose, which has only served to skyrocket the industry’s waste and pollution problems (and its resulting contribution to climate change). The only way forward from here, Emma says, is for the industry as a collective to adapt to a circular, carbon-positive business model.

For the last 12 months, Emma Lewisham has been working behind the scenes with leading independent environmental certification agency, Toitu Envirocare, to measure the carbon emissions at each stage of a product’s lifecycle.

This included measuring the company's full value chain emissions — everything from the harvesting and production of raw ingredients, through to product packaging, transportation and end-of-life processes to ensure the proper measures were being followed to minimise emissions as much as possible.

Brands should aim to reduce their carbon footprint first, Emma implores, before they offset unavoidable emissions through the purchase of carbon credits that go beyond carbon neutrality to achieve roughly 125 per cent compensation.

READ: Consider These 7 Sustainable Beauty Swaps

“It’s not just about measuring and then offsetting our impact. We are focused on reducing our carbon footprint to the lowest number possible and implementing strategies, such as moving to a circular business model to illustrate this is more than just offsetting for us. We are doing the work. We’d love to be in a position where we eliminate the need to offset altogether,” Emma says.

For a brand to achieve “carbon positive” status, it means that it offsets more than it emits; and in Emma Lewisham’s case, this meant the brand offset an additional 25 per cent by allocating its carbon credits to the New Zealand Puhoi Forest Reserve, the Gyapa Cook Stoves technology in Ghana and the remainder to Malya’s Wind Power Project in India.

Eventually, Emma says, she wants to be in a position where the brand doesn't need to offset any emissions at all. Photo / Supplied

During its extensive auditing process, Toitu Envirocare found that each of Emma Lewisham’s refillable product vessels had up to 74 per cent smaller carbon footprint than the original packaging.

While recycling and recycling (or “take back”) initiatives are a step in the right direction, Emma says almost no curbside recycling systems actually recycle beauty packaging. While some products might be labelled as recyclable, the reality is that the time and resource it takes to sort and separate beauty products often means it makes a beeline for landfill instead.

“The industry seems to have become so focused on recycling. However, a solution that has a significantly lighter environmental impact is to reuse, or in our case, refill. There must be investment industry-wide into refillable models and reuse of material — recycling should be the final port of call,” she says.

READ: 5 Entrepreneurs Pioneering The Slow Beauty Movement In Aotearoa

Every product in the Emma Lewisham range is now refillable, further cementing the brand's commitment to circularity. Photo / Supplied

Every product in the Emma Lewisham range is now refillable, meaning they are all designed to fit within a circular system that keeps them in use and out of landfill.

Along a similar vein to slow fashion (buy once, love for a lifetime), a circular system in the beauty sector involves designing out waste, keeping materials in circulation by way of reuse, repair and recycling, thereby helping regenerate the environment. Sounds like a win, win, win to us.

“There was no roadmap to follow in becoming a circular designed luxury skincare brand. We have had to reimagine our business processes, technology and our product packaging. This is a new model of beauty,” Emma says.

“It has required strenuous investments in both time and capital; however, there was no other option for us. We believe businesses are uniquely placed to drive change and possess the power to use their resources for good.”

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