On 11 January I had the pleasure of attending the first IFRA (International Fragrance Trade Association) Members Information Day of 2018. My manager and I were invited to speak about the Packaging Waste Regulations and how this might affect their members. I came away with greater appreciation and empathy for people within industries such as beauty and cosmetics, and felt inspired to share a few thoughts.
Below are 5 insights that I took away from the day, most of which would apply to any sector trying to navigate regulatory compliance in today’s world.
1. Partnerships are key
The day started off with an overview on product testing and research from Jim Romine, President at RIFM (The Research Institute for Fragrance Materials). Jim gave an enlightening talk about the technical processes typically used for safety assessments and also touched on how the work RIFM do is linked closely with compliance under the REACH regulations.
But what came across most clearly from this presentation was the fact that although different organisations each have their own role to play, without partnerships such as the one between RIFM and IFRA, crucial work being done by organisations such as RIFM would not necessarily have the appropriate channel to be shared and communicated to the people and companies that depend on it.
2. Trade associations play an important role
Jim’s presentation was followed by a talk from Martina Bianchini, President at IFRA. Martina gave us a look at the wider strategic plans for the association and it was clear from the start how passionate she is about maintaining and building relationships with not only organisations that bring such valuable knowledge, but also relationships with their members who are at the core of their organisation.
It was evident that IFRA plays a key role in driving further research and understanding of processes involved in the manufacture and production of fragrances, but also an understanding of the industry's consumers and what their needs and expectations are.
3. “The cost of compliance is high, but the cost of non-compliance is even higher”
‘Compliance’ was not surprisingly a major theme throughout the day. And despite having worked within the industry of environmental regulations for several years now, I hadn’t heard a quote before that so perfectly summarises what I spend a large part of my job communicating to our clients. “The cost of compliance is high, but the cost of non-compliance is even higher” - this was referenced by Martina during her talk and is so very true.
When I first started in my role as an Environmental Consultant I couldn’t help but feel sorry for businesses trying to navigate this maze of rules and regulations, and often felt like the bearer of bad news. But now I’ve realised that being informed is always better than blissful ignorance and in addition to financial repercussions, there can be significant reputational damage associated with non-compliance.
4. Brexit is going to have a huge impact not only on how new UK policy is created, but also wider EU legislation
You might be thinking I’m stating the obvious here, but so much of the media focus since Brexit has been on what might happen to the UK policy making process and UK law. However, the excellent talk made by Charles Laroche, IFRA Europe, truly opened my eyes on how UK leaving the EU will have a fundamental impact on the policy making process for all member states that remain within the European Union. It will be during this 2nd phase of negotiations that the framework for future regulations is built. And although the UK will have greater autonomy over what is set in their own law going forward, we cannot forget that in order to continue trading with Europe successfully, we will still need to abide by the standards and regulations that are set at EU level.
5. Companies in the cosmetic industry face continual regulatory challenges
I suppose this last point is true for most industries. The regulatory landscape is forever changing and developing. As such, more and more companies are understandably struggling to keep up. We have seen an increase in uptake of services that involve what is often referred to as ‘horizon scanning’ and I think this is a trend we are likely to see grow as more changes are looming in the near future.
One of the most recent examples within the cosmetic industry is the UK-wide prohibition (Environmental Protection (Microbeads) (England) regulations 2017) on the use of plastic microbeads in the manufacture of cosmetic and personal care products which came into effect on 9 January 2018.
If you’re in a similar industry and would like Valpak to present at an upcoming information day please do not hesitate to get in touch. We would be more than happy to address any concerns relating to Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations.
A special thank you to Lisa Hipgrave and IFRA for inviting Valpak to attend this informative day!