Each year, eco-conscious brands vie to win CEW’s highly coveted Sustainability Excellence Award. The award recognizes a beauty brand that demonstrates best practices and progress towards the goal of sustainability. Entries were vetted based on four science-based sustainability principles promoted by The Natural Step, and their integration through the entire product life cycle. In April, the six finalists presented their brands’ sustainability practices to the award Voting Committee, comprised of Firmenich executives, select CEW Board members and sustainability experts. The committee will select the winner, who will be announced on May 18 at the annual 2018 CEW Beauty Awards Luncheon at the New York Hilton Midtown. Click here to purchase your ticket. Here, the six Finalists.

Alaffia – Launched by Olowo-n’djo Tchala and Prairie Rose Hyde, this wild-crafted skin care company was formed with the goal of providing assistance to West Africa, and dedicates 10 percent of sales towards funding empowerment projects in the West African nation of Togo, where Olowo-n’djo grew up. The brand uses sustainably harvested and traditionally extracted unrefined ingredients in its skin and hair care products, including handcrafted, unrefined shea butter from wild shea trees and virgin coconut oil extracted by hand from fresh coconuts grown organically on small farms. Most of the products in the line carry the “Made Safe” seal, certifying the product is made without known toxic chemicals. At the company’s U.S. headquarters in Olympia, Washington, raw ingredients from Togo are used to produce the finished products, which are created by hand in small batches, ultimately reducing energy consumption and increasing quality. For packaging, the company aims to use glass wherever possible as well as easily recyclable HDPE and PETE plastics for products that are too heavy for glass packaging. The company is also certified Fair for Life: Social & Fair Trade by IMO (Institute for Marketecology).

Avalon Organics – This line of skin care, hair care and bath and body products was founded on the belief that “all beauty comes from the Earth,” and uses plant-based organic ingredients sourced from organic agriculture. All of the brand’s products are certified to the NSF/ANSI 305 Standard for Personal Care Products Containing Organic Ingredients or the USDA National Organic Program standard. To minimize its carbon footprint, the brand utilizes packaging made from post-consumer recycled material and sustainably sourced paperboard, which is recyclable after use. All product formulas are tested to evaluate the organic carbon to CO2 conversion rate necessary for biodegradable certification. The company has pledged to have its manufacturing facility, located in Culver City, California powered by 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020.

Biossance – The birth of the brand centers around its plant-based powerhouse ingredient, squalane, a derivative of squalene, a molecule naturally found in the skin responsible for moisture, which decreases with age. Scientists at industrial bioscience company, Amyris Inc., were able to produce squalane through a plant-based fermentation process using sugarcane, resulting in the development of its consumer beauty brand, Biossance. Sugarcane is also used to create the brand’s secondary packaging, reducing its environmental impact. Additionally, the products are housed in green bottles with pure petal labels and copper detailing, designed to evoke a luxurious, earth-friendly vibe. Outside of packaging sustainability, the company also follows a “no compromise” approach when it comes to ingredients and sourcing, blacklisting more than 2,000 ingredients that are potentially harmful to people or the planet.

NaturaBrasil – Originating from Brazil, the company is committed to using Brazilian biodiversity ingredients, such as açaí and cacau, to obtain the maximum benefits for its skin and hair care products. The company is one of the first publicly traded companies to become a certified B-corporation, which requires rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. NaturaBrasil works with over 30 local communities in the Amazon region to source the biodiversity ingredients, while also helping to develop sustainable business models that benefit the forest.

Plantioxidants – This USDA certified organic skin care line, utilizes a concentrated formula of antioxidants from plants, with the goal of protecting the skin from free radicals while providing skin-nourishing benefits. Products range from masks to toners, and the ingredients list of each product details the quantity of how much plant antioxidants are in each bottle. The company uses BPA free bottles, which are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic, and its boxes are made from 100 percent recycled and recyclable paper. The brand also prints the information on its boxes using environmentally-friendly soy ink.

The Divine Company – This collection of premium Australian certified organic beauty, baby and personal care products was founded in a small Northern NSW town in Australia by Therese Kerr and her business partners. The company holds events 3–5 times a month, where Therese presents information on chemicals and toxicity and the implications on people’s and the planet’s health. Australian Certified Organic (ACO) requires a minimum of 70 percent certified organic ingredients, and all of The Divine Woman products are ACO certified. When it comes to ingredients, the brand’s formulas are 100 percent biodegradable, 100 percent natural and contains the highest percentage of certified organic ingredients. Additionally, minimal water is used in the products; instead, aloe vera is used as the formula base to reduce water usage. The brand primarily uses glass bottles, any plastic used is recyclable, and its “outers” and shippers are recyclable as well. In addition to practicing sustainability with its products, all of The Divine Company’s advertising and marketing materials are made from recyclable, non-plastic ingredients.

Firmenich is the sponsor of the Sustainability Excellence Award. Sustainability is in Firmenich’s DNA. As early as 1991, Firmenich signed the International Chamber of Commerce Business Charter on Sustainable Development, and almost 25 years later, their commitment to sustainability remains unwavering.