Patrick Koch, Business Manager Pharma & Cosmetics Brenntag DACH, on sustainability in Brenntag’s cosmetics division.

Mr Koch, everybody is talking about sustainability and the environment these days. What is your experience of the impact this development is having on the cosmetics industry?

Patrick Koch: Consumer perceptions and the way the cosmetics industry is viewed have undergone groundbreaking changes in recent years. Customers and consumers have begun paying close attention to the topic of sustainability and know exactly what to look out for. Those who buy cosmetics products want to do so with a clear conscience and the assurance that people, animals and the environment are being protected.

What does this paradigm shift mean for companies?

Patrick Koch: Consumer attitudes in cosmetics have certainly posed a challenge, but also presented us with a major opportunity to optimally position ourselves and set ourselves apart from the competition, with our distribution showing considerable potential. It’s important to establish a modern, credible image of our company in the area of sustainability. Sustainable practices are also good for business. If a company isn’t sustainable, I don’t see it having a future in the industry.

How is Brenntag preparing to lead the pack?

Patrick Koch: In the area of natural cosmetics, for example, we at Brenntag focus on ensuring that our suppliers increasingly utilize sustainable agricultural methods for their raw materials, and that their production is environmentally friendly. We have numerous natural raw materials in our supply range, many of which with Ecocert or COSMOS certification. And we are always expanding our assortment in this area.

What is most important to customers?

Patrick Koch: Customers want maximum transparency when it comes to raw materials and the production process. This offers us an additional opportunity to improve our image as a supplier of sustainable raw materials. We need to talk about this topic much more with our customers.

What role do digital distribution channels play in this dialogue with customers?

Patrick Koch: With the new BrenntagConnect, we have an important e-commerce tool at our disposal. It lets us provide our customers with useful information when it comes to finding the right products. This includes important details about sustainable aspects.

BrenntagConnect displays product information like “vegan” or “100% biodegradable”.

Patrick Koch: With good reason! This information is playing an increasingly important role for consumers. For instance, we have a synthetic vegan beeswax in our supply range. This is used to produce things like lip care products. But recyclable packaging made of materials like glass or bamboo, and generally avoiding the use of plastics for our cosmetics products, are also important aspects. Some pharmacies are already running trials for filling stations for a range of products. This lets customers take their own containers to the pharmacy and have them filled with the respective product, thus producing less rubbish.

These are all good ideas. How is Brenntag taking part in a creative sustainability process?

Patrick Koch: We are developing sustainable recipes for innovative products in our cosmetics labs. For example, we have created a water-free soap that has been well-received by customers. Because of global water shortages, refraining from using this valuable resource is a major contribution to sustainability.

What are you personally doing for more sustainability?

Patrick Koch: Whenever I can, I leave my car at home and walk, bike or take public transportation for example.