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Calice's intervention in IFRA-Green Deal implementation

04 février 2022 Association
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How safety and sustainability set boundaries for perfumers-creators

 

Complying with the IFRA Code of Practice, including the IFRA Standards, and committing to the IFRA-IOFI Sustainability Charter are pre-requisites to join ISPC. A perfumer cannot assume the title of “perfumer-creator” without following these requirements.

In December 2019, the European Commission released its Communication on the European Green Deal, with the overarching goal of making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, fighting climate change and environment degradation.

As perfumers, we are extremely concerned by climate change and all the environmental threats and while Nature is our first source of inspiration we have an immense respect for it.

We are therefore fully supportive of the aspirations of the European Green Deal. Fragrance safety and sustainability set the boundaries to our creativity, and as perfumers-creators, we make sure sustainability is a cornerstone of our day-to-day work.  Over the past decade, we have been frontrunners in sustainability, integrating in our daily work processes and technologies inspired by nature.

Each fragrance house has its own methods to reach the same ideal: a greener and more sustainable world. Many of those initiatives have changed our way of creating a fragrance - increasing transparency for sustainable fragrance creation.

We have some tools that help us to consider the environmental impact of the chosen ingredients. This assessment tool is based on a deep understanding of the factors that affect fragrance sustainability, such as biodegradability, renewability, and sourcing. Through this, we increase the ratio of ingredients that have the most positive impact.

As the director and teacher of a perfumery school, we are raising awareness of sustainability among perfumer apprentices, and at a very early stage in their curriculum, helping them to adopt the most positive attitudes towards sustainability.

As a member of the innovation task force, we are developing digital tools that can help design more efficient formulae allowing, for smaller concentrations of oil in the end product. Those innovative tools can also help us reduce the number of trials and make the creating process greener.

Finally, we support sustainability by adopting new ingredients coming from our R&D green chemistry and upcycled ingredients.

As part of the European Green Deal, discussions are taking place at European level to implement measures towards a “toxic-free environment” (through the European Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS)). In this context, the European Union acknowledged that chemicals are essential for our well-being, high living standards and comfort of modern society. However, most of these chemicals have hazardous properties which can harm the environment and human health, and therefore, the EU will take some actions to ban the most harmful chemicals in consumer products.

We, as perfumers-creators, are keen to be part of the upcoming debates. While supporting these aspirational goals, we believe that this should be carefully considered, as the safe use of fragrances is ensured through a risk-based approach (i.e. considering the level of dilution of pure oil in the formula). Focusing on a hazard-based approach – without considering the levels of the fragrance ingredients in the final products – could have unintended repercussions, like losing the benefits of a pleasant smell, losing the benefice of positive stimuli of one of our 5 senses.

When it comes to substitution and how it affects iconic brands, we’ve made some trials to understand the potential impacts on one top European fine fragrance. If we consider that all hazardous substances should be eliminated whatever their level of use, all ingredients had to be removed. Instead of the fine fragrance, we would end up with an empty bottle. In such a scenario, the use of natural oils would also be banned as they all contain toxic molecules to a certain extent.

Most of the molecules used in perfumery are found in nature – and oranges are not being banned even though the amount of limonene left on our hands while peeling it is thousand time much higher than the one left by a Cologne.

Such a hazard-based approach, not looking at the levels of fragrances in the final products, would therefore be absolutely disproportionate. Very high safety standards apply for fragrance creation (legal requirements, IFRA Standards) so that consumers can enjoy safe products, and we need to continue building on this expertise and to advance safety based on the latest scientific knowledge. At outlined in the EU CSS, sophisticated chemicals laws are already in place in Europe. 

We often say that perfumer-creators are half chemist and half artist, because we take into account at the same time safe levels and the craft of reassuring to enchanting scents - whether it is in your fine fragrance, your shampoo, your soap, your detergent, your homecare product, or your cosmetic product.

We cannot stress enough the importance to consider risk and not hazard to assess the impacts of fragrances on human health or the environment.

Allowing the continued use of ingredients for fragrance creation – looking at the concentration level in formulae – will enable us to compose scents mimicking our natural environment, bringing back smells from our childhoods, from beloved moments of our lives and therefore, bringing back to all of us amazing memories.


Working together with IFRA and EU regulators, we should look proactively at where the potential rules are leading us. We must be careful not to pitch “natural” against “human made”, but rather take into account the use level of fragrance ingredients.

Our daily work is to create and respond to consumer demands for their wellbeing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve noticed that people were looking for clean smells. To smell fresh and good gives us a sense of reassurance, a sense of dignity, a sense of self-esteem, a sense of confidence, as well as comfort and hygiene. These aspects are part of the human being, and they are essential to consider.

At the International Society of Perfumers Creators, we are willing to build on our expertise to create safe and sustainable fragrances, and to maintain a dialogue with policy-makers and stakeholders on the EU Green Deal and CSS.

We are supportive of the overarching goals of the EU Green Deal and are committed to work together on how to implement future rules to advance on the safety and sustainability of fragrance creation, looking at the benefits of fragrances and caring about consumers’ demands and well-being.

 

For more background information, please consult:

The priorities of the European Green Deal, striving to be the first climate neutral continent

https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en

The EU’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, towards a toxic-free environment

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/strategy/chemicals-strategy_en

 

Calice Becker

ISPC co-President




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