The Body Shop accelerates CSR commitments through East Croydon innovation hub

EXCLUSIVE: The Body Shop has officially unveiled a £1m innovation hub in East Croydon that it claims will enhance the company's ability to reduce the environmental impact of its product category footprints and develop an innovation pipeline to deliver pioneering cosmetics produced from biodiversity hotspots.

The new, 3,200 sq. ft laboratory will integrate marketing, product development and sustainable sourcing into a singular partnership in order to accelerate and clearly communicate the production of products with a reduced environmental impact.

The Body Shop’s East Croydon hub will source new Community Trade ingredients sourced from communities and bio-diversity hotspots across the globe. The lab with allow for fast-track testing and product reformulation using a “unique ingredient impact database” that allows the Body Shop to study and reduce the environmental impact of its most popular products.

“Earlier this year we committed to reducing year on year the environmental footprint of all product categories by 2020 as part of our Enrich Not Exploit Commitment,” The Body Shop’s research and innovation director Gaetane David told edie.

“Our new innovation hub is helping us to deliver that promise. By using a unique and extensive raw material database, we can test and reformulate our products to reduce their impact in a number of ways from biodegradability to water footprint.  It also allows us to innovate much more effectively – accurately calculating the environmental footprint of new variants, for example, before any further development.

 “The lab is also a key link in a truly innovative supply chain. We are able to test newly identified ingredients sourced from biodiversity hotspots and prospective community trade partners at a much faster rate. We are subsequently able to establish demand for these sustainably sourced and cultivated ingredients, which ultimately protects the biodiverse environments they are from.”

Operating with 3,100 stores across 66 countries, the Body Shop has committed to reducing year-on-year environmental footprints of all products categories as part of the Enrich Not Exploit commitment.

Building bridges

The strategy, launched in 2016, includes targets ensuring 100% of The Body Shop’s natural ingredients are traceable and sustainably sourced; reducing the energy consumption of The Body Shop stores by 10% every year; and guaranteeing that that 70% of The Body Shop’s product packaging does not contain fossil fuels.

Through this programme, the Body Shop will seek to double the size of its Community Trade programme. The Body Shop has an aim to ensure 100% of its natural ingredients are traceable and sustainably sourced, protecting 10,000 hectares of forest and other habitats in the process.

An integral aspect of this new CSR commitment is the new Bio-Bridges programme, which aims to regenerate and reconnect 75 million square metres of damaged forests. Working in collaboration with the World Land Trust, The Body Shop established the first Bio-Bridge in the Khe Nuoc Trong forest in Vietnam earlier this year, as a way of restoring wildlife corridors that helps endangered species reconnect, enabling them and local communities to thrive.

The programme has since been extended from its original site in Vietnam to two additional settings in Malaysia and Indonesia, with the company hoping to donate £200,000 to the sites during the Christmas period.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie