After 18 months of research and development, a New Zealand beauty brand is officially the first in the world to be dubbed carbon-positive, garnering a commendation from iconic environmentalist Dr Jane Goodall.
Data from Zero Waste Week shows at least 120 billion units of waste are produced annually by the beauty industry, the majority of which is due to unrecyclable products.
Local brand Emma Lewisham announced on Wednesday its full range is now carbon positive, a goal the company says it's been out to meet since its inception in 2019.
Founder Lewisham has also promised to publicly release its intellectual property (IP) for its circular designed product packaging and model free of charge, encouraging competitors to make similar changes and "start making widespread change within the beauty industry".
"'Circular designed' means designing out waste, keeping materials in use through reuse, repair and recycling, and regenerating the environment," the company said in a statement.
"It is no longer acceptable for brands to claim recyclability and rely on differentiating local curbside recycling programs."
In fact, virtually no curbside recycling systems in Aotearoa have the means to recycle beauty packaging.
"Packaging is the beauty industry's number one contributor to carbon emissions, and by moving to a circular model, beauty brands could lower their carbon emissions by 70 percent."
Environmental certification agency Toitū Envirocare confirmed that Emma Lewisham's refillable product vessels have up to a 74 percent smaller carbon footprint than that of the original packaging.
Lewisham had previously partnered with waste recycling system Terracycle as a means of recycling empty packaging. Other skincare brands are still available to be recycled through the TerraCycle scheme.
The move towards a fully circular business model has garnered Lewisham an endorsement from United Nations Messenger of Peace Dr Jane Goodall, who addressed the model in an open letter calling the NZ brand an example of a "truly sustainable business".
"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," she wrote.
"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."
It's the first beauty brand and Aotearoa business she's personally endorsed Dr Goodall has endorsed.
Emma Lewisham skincare previously made headlines when its night cream outshone cult favourites like Estée Lauder 'Advanced Night Repair' and La Mer's 'Crème de la Mer' in a worldwide collagen study.