New position to tackle trio of sustainability challenges

Posted on 27 Jan 2022 by The Manufacturer

Natural ingredients manufacturer, Stephenson, has appointed its first-ever dedicated sustainability manager.

The appointment of Marie Maisonnette in the specially created role further illustrates the business’s ongoing commitment to sustainability in the personal care market.

Last year Stephenson launched its first solid shampoo base, Syndopal, a product innovation designed to help reduce water use in the formulation and plastic packaging. Launched to widespread industry acclaim, the solid bar product has sold well across international markets and embraced by a number of global personal care and cosmetic brands as part of their own product ranges.

The new role will be predominantly based at Stephenson’s manufacturing plant in Leeds. Maisonnette joins from Stephenson’s successful offshoot business CO2Sustain, where she was previously a business development specialist, covering Europe and South America.

The role

Prior to this, Maisonnette was a raw material buyer for Stephenson, sourcing eco-friendly ingredients from across the world which has helped to build a specialist knowledge of product and technological innovations and ingredients including responsibly sourcing palm oil for product formulation.

Her direct work with plantation managers and refiners has led to a deep understanding of the issues surrounding palm oil and its widespread usage. She is a French native who can also speak Spanish and a graduate of Kedge International Business School in Paris.

Marie Maisonnette, new Sustainability Manager at Stephenson
Marie Maisonnette, Sustainability Manager at Stephenson

Maisonnette brings all of her experience from raw materials purchasing and innovation capture to implement this to focus on a number of core areas including palm oil sustainability, eco ingredients, packaging and overall production site efficiency.

The role also involves working closely with other specialists across the business such as the packaging buyer to ensure the most eco-friendly production, containment and distribution methods are being employed. The role will also involve working with department heads including health and safety management, engineering and marketing.

Sustainability plan

The sustainability plan is transverse and Stephenson is already tackling issues in the industry. In 2013, it became the first manufacturer in the world to launch a melt and pour soap base made using 100% RSPO certified sustainable palm and palm kernel oils. Named CRYSTAL SP SG, this pioneering melt and pour soap sits alongside Stephenson’s other RSPO product bases.

The company has also partnered with global sustainability consultancy, Anthesis to manage its strategy and CSR projects. Its aim is that by the end of 2022, it will have switched 85% of its palm derivatives volume to physically RSPO certified mass balanced, segregated or identity-preserved supply chain models.

Continuing demand from consumers to search for and buy more sustainable and environmentally friendly products has driven a significant shift in purchase habits. The company has seen a notable increase in product launches with 100% RSPO certified ingredients and more sustainable or even less packaging keeping in mind the Net 0 target.

Maisonnette commented: “I am looking forward to implementing what I’ve learned over the years in a positive and productive way that will benefit the business overall, its customers and ultimately the planet. The primary focus is threefold – raw materials, packaging and net zero targets. As a responsible manufacturing business, we have a duty to act in the most eco-friendly way possible in order to effect change.

“Stephenson has always been at the forefront of innovation and sustainability but it’s important to recognise that more can always be done and that we are in a strong position of authority to work closely with our customers and partners to inform and educate as well as lead by example.

“Two of the main concerns that personal care product consumers have are deforestation and packaging and these are important issues that we are helping many of our customers and partners to address in the way they source and formulate their products, what they add to them and how they package and present them to the market. This is a huge undertaking but one that we are fully committed to on an ongoing basis. This cannot just be a short term fix in response to the latest market trends.”

The value of the conditioning and shampoo solid bar market is estimated to be worth around $10m but shows signs of huge growth potential. This is due to increasing consumer awareness of personal health and hygiene combined with the harmful side effects associated with the long term use of chemical cosmetics and personal care products. Consumers are also consciously adopting plastic free personal care products in a bid to reduce their own plastic waste as evidenced by the boom in high street refill outlets.

James Clews, Commercial Director at Stephenson commented: “Marie’s appointment as dedicated sustainability manager is another clear demonstration of our commitment to environmental issues. It’s also a clear signal of our sustainability intentions as an innovative and progressive manufacturing business. It’s not difficult to see that consumers are calling the shots in terms of what ingredients they want to see in their cosmetic and personal care products and also how they are presented and what they are contained in.

“Our range of personal care products has been constantly evolving in line with the explosion of eco demands and changing consumer trends. Sustainability is a key driver at Stephenson as this is a primary concern of many of the global formulators we partner with.

“Following the recent COP26 global summit which has helped to refocus on environmental issues, Marie’s appointment combined with industry-leading innovations such as the launch of our first-ever solid conditioning bar, is in direct response to how the world needs to change. As a business, we will continue to pave the way for a future range of products that are not just good news for individual health and wellbeing but also completely sustainable too.”

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