The World’s First Carbon Positive Beauty Range

Ilona Marchetta

Sustainability & Home Editor

Oct 08, 2021

Emma Lewisham has been declared the world’s first beauty brand to develop a carbon positive product range.

And that’s not all; The New Zealand brand has also been recognised for its 100 percent circular business model.

Incredibly, in the spirit of collaboration the brand has shared its Intellectual Property, enabling small and large competitors to capitalise on the time and effort already invested to start making widespread change within the beauty industry.

Iconic environmentalist, ethologist and United Nations Messenger of Peace, Dr Jane Goodall has backed the brand, stating: “Emma Lewisham is demonstrating what it means to be a truly sustainable business. Through their carbon positive and circular business model, 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.”

The beauty industry currently produces 120 billion units of waste every year, with the majority of this being non-recycled; this has the largest impact on the industry’s carbon emissions.

What’s this difference between Emma Lewisham and other ‘carbon-positive’ brands?

Carbon certifications can be granted at the corporate level and the product level.

While many businesses globally have measured their Corporate Carbon Footprint (CCF), very few have dedicated the time and resources to measuring the Product Carbon Footprint (CPF) – which is what Emma Lewisham has just done.

Related reading: Tips On Eco-Beauty Shopping From The Brands Trailblazing Sustainability 

Emma Lewisham’s carbon positive range.

How Emma Lewisham achieved a carbon positive product range

Emma Lewisham spent 12 months working with world-leading independent environmental certification agency, Toitū Envirocare, to measure the carbon emissions emitted at each stage of its product’s lifecycle and have the brand independently verified as carbon positive at a product level.

Emma Lewisham went further than accounting and compensating for the product footprint to achieve full Toitū climate positive product certification.

The brand sought to measure its emissions throughout its entire supply chain, including the harvesting and production of raw ingredients used, transportation, product packaging and end-of-life for each product in order to put reduction plans in place before positively offsetting what could not be reduced by an additional 25 percent – making it the world’s first beauty brand to be verified carbon positive at a product level.

Founder Emma Lewisham says she made reduction, not off-setting, her priority.

“It’s not just about measuring and then offsetting our impact,” she said. “We are focused on reducing our carbon footprint to the lowest number possible and implementing strategies, such as moving to a circular business model to illustrate this is more than just offsetting for us. We are doing the work. We’d love to be in a position where we eliminate the need to offset altogether.

Emma Lewisham’s refillable product vessels have up to a 74%* smaller carbon footprint than that of the original packaging.

“There was no roadmap to follow in becoming a circular designed luxury skincare brand. We have had to reimagine our business processes, technology and our product packaging. This is a new model of beauty. It has required strenuous investments in both time and capital; however, there was no other option for us. We believe businesses are uniquely placed to drive change and possess the power to use their resources for the good.

Emma is also passionate about educating brands and customers on the unaddressed reality of recycling – that almost no ‘recyclable’ beauty packaging is actually being recycled. For Emma Lewisham, recyclability is defined not by the potential but by what actually happens in practice.

“What people don’t know is that virtually no curbside recycling systems actually recycle beauty packaging. Although products might ‘technically’ be recyclable, the economics just don’t stack up – so to landfill it goes.”

“If we are to ensure packaging is recycled, we (brands) must take ownership of our materials and work with our customers to take back all packaging globally to be recycled through specialised recycling partners who ensure this happens. Labelling a beauty product ‘100% recyclable’ without a takeback programme and reputable recycling partner in place – should be considered an irresponsible business practice.”

More reasons we love this eco-beauty brand

  • Measuring its emissions at a product level has allowed Emma Lewisham to assign a carbon number to each product – showing exactly how many kilograms of carbon (kgCO2e) is emitted to make each individual product.
  • All of Emma Lewisham’s products are manufactured using 100% renewable energy.
  • Toitū Envirocare has established that Emma Lewisham’s refillable product vessels have up to a 74%* smaller carbon footprint than that of the original packaging.
  • The products are fantastic.

The circular beauty blueprint

The blueprint includes refill designs, sterilising processes, recycling and returns processes, packaging supplier connections, take back procedures and carbon calculation guides. From today, all brands have access to Emma Lewisham’s extensive research, processes and innovations.

On the decision to immediately share their knowledge, Emma says: “We genuinely want to see change. The problems we face are so much greater than the success of one business or brand, and if we are going to solve them, collaboration is key. We must tear down the barriers of competition once and for all – unifying around a greater vision where future generations may thrive.

“This has to be the future of beauty.”


By Ilona Marchetta

Sustainability & Home Editor

Ilona Marchetta is The Carousel's Home and Sustainability Editor. She is a change manager and journalist specialising in sustainability. Ilona is passionate about slow and mindful living, from fashion to interiors to beauty and self care.


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