The Body Shop is a skin and beauty product retailer with a robust online store and over 2,500 physical locations around the world. From Body Shop’s self-reporting, it seems to be a very proactive organisation in pushing for more sustainable considerations in the production processes. There are conflicting opinions from critiques and the company itself regarding if petrochemicals, fragrances etc. are used. Due to the lack of transparency, it is very hard to distinguish self-proclaimed usage of more sustainable resources if the whole supply chain’s information is not pubically available.
Its ingredients include (Sourced from official website): shea butter, which is sourced from Ghana and the ginger in the ginger spices come from Sri Lanka. Just looking at the international sources from 2 contents may not be sufficient to suggest a large carbon footprint, nonetheless, it is true that not all ingredients are locally sourced hence carbon emissions from internationally shipping might be a large concern.
It self-declares to be 100% free of petrochemicals, phthalates, toxic ingredients, artificial colouring and fragrance, which are great news for health.
Its packagings are made with 75% Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) plastic, a material that already exists and doesn’t require a new material to be created. Body shop has pledged to change a minimum of 75% PCR in all bottles. This accounts for approximately 580 tonnes of new plastic being saved every year.
However, it is NOT CLEAR what the remaining 25% of ingredients are either from their website or packaging.This might be due to the substance used is not extremely desirable to disclose.
Out of the millions of products they produce every year, only soap products are made by The Body Shop itself in Scotland; all other products including this body butter are outsourced to third parties across different countries, meaning when being transported from factories afar including Thailand, Italy and the USA. No matter which transportation method it employed, due to the vast number of product it sells, the carbon footprint in terms of shipping emissions will inevitably be huge. Thus, this is not very sustainable.
The Body Shop, a UK brand that is widely popular among UK consumers, is praised as champions in fair trade (or community trade) ingredients that are sustainably sourced’ by the Derm Review. Founded in 1976 in Brighton, UK by Anita Roddick, the brand is widely perceived by the public for its strong moves towards the protection and conservation the natural environment, and other good social causes such as anti-animal testing of cosmetic products.
Nonetheless, is the brand they really so as they proclaim to value sustainability is the question. As they proactively update their websites with great infographic designs, allocate funds to advertise their sustainability efforts on various social media channels, their indeed have a positive brand image. However, the brand lacks green transparency because it has never published exact numbers in its sustainability reports.
Body Shop revamped one of its existing stores on Bond Street to showcase how the company plans to adapt its products to become more sustainable. The shop featured a refill station where customers could bring their empty bottles and restock on their favourite products. The store also included a water station for customers to refill their water bottles and featured upcycled furniture.
Alongside their trial store, the Body Shop also introduced a packaging return scheme in partnership with Terracycle. For a limited time, customers could receive a five pound gift voucher for simply bringing five empty bottle/containers back to selected stores. Although customers will no longer receive a voucher
However, this scheme is not necessarily a move that will have huge success; first and foremost, this trail movement stopped only within a year and was not spread to any other outlets; secondly, an incentive as a form of voucher to be used for one’s next purchase might be more of a promotion scheme than a genuine move to improve sustainability of its retailing activities.