The household products and personal care sector could generate up to $62 billion in annual business value by 2030 if it puts nature at the heart of operations, according to new World Economic Forum research. This is part of the $10.1 trillion in business opportunity which could be unlocked if nature-positive solutions are adopted more widely by the private sector. By prioritizing water stewardship, responsible sourcing, nature conservation and circularity, the household products and personal care sector can transform and play its role in halting and reversing nature loss by 2030.
The sector generates about $700 billion in annual revenue, although this sometimes comes at the expense of nature. The cosmetics industry alone, for example, produces 120 billion packaging units a year and palm oil – a common ingredient in many cosmetics and detergents – accounted for 7% of global deforestation from 2000 to 2018. According to the World Economic Forum’s new research, titled Nature Positive: Role of the Household and Personal Care, it is imperative for the household and personal care products sector to ensure it operates within the safe and just Earth system boundaries and contributes to a nature-positive and net-zero future.
Plastic production alone from the sector generates 3.4% of GHG emissions globally, higher than aviation’s carbon footprint. Reusing only 10%-20% of plastic products could prevent the equivalent of nearly 50% of marine plastic pollution every year. This is one of the recommendations from the research. It is one in a series of sector-specific research pieces which offer guidance to the 12 sectors that have the biggest dependencies and reliance on nature.
“Companies are increasingly concerned with nature-positive transitions, in addition to net-zero outcomes. A nature-positive, net-zero strategy mitigates against escalating risks in relation to the collapse of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity and also provides new business opportunities of up to $10.1 trillion. These reports provide sectoral guidance for CEOs and their senior executives and support them in translating to action the ambitions of COP15 and the Global Biodiversity Framework,” said Gim Huay Neo, Managing Director, World Economic Forum.
In partnership with Business for Nature and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the Forum has released guidance to empower businesses from 12 sectors with the greatest impact on nature to spearhead the protection, restoration and sustainable use of nature, in line with the mission of the Global Biodiversity Framework to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030.
Urgency for action
Despite the increased awareness and attention from business to take action on nature, progress remains slow. Recent research shows that although 83% of Fortune Global 500 companies have climate change targets, just 25% have established freshwater consumption targets, with that number dropping to 5% having targets related to biodiversity. Only 5% of companies have assessed their impacts on nature, with less than 1% understanding their dependencies.
Yet, in this crossroads of crisis lies the seed of opportunity. Businesses that act now will be more resilient to risks and better prepared for new environmental regulations. At the same time, there are also strong commercial arguments for companies to engage in biodiversity, with nature-positive business models potentially offering opportunities for new products and services worth $10 trillion a year to business, contributing to the welfare of both the planet and the bottom line.
The sector-specific actions, drafted in consultation with world-leading companies, serve as a foundation to transform business practices and help businesses contribute to a nature-positive future.
Ulrike Sapiro, Chief Sustainability Officer of Henkel, a leading chemical and consumer goods company, said: “Our customers and investors expect us to adopt sustainable practices and develop products that do no harm. They also want us to be transparent and accountable for any nature and biodiversity related impacts throughout our supply chains. Each of our organizations must play our part in shaping an industry that not only fulfils our everyday needs but also secures a flourishing planet for generations to come.”
Thriving businesses rely on thriving nature. While individual sectors are deeply reliant on nature across their value chain, they also play a role in exacerbating the factors leading to nature loss when their true impact is not accounted for in decision-making.
The climate crisis is exacerbating biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse: rising temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns and extreme weather are damaging ecosystem resilience. Tangible and integrated actions to protect and restore nature, fight climate change and create an equitable future cannot wait. Nature-based solutions can contribute up to 37% of the emission reductions required by 2030 to keep the global temperature increase below 2°C.
Businesses can, and should, already begin taking credible action to reverse nature loss and contribute to a nature-positive, net-zero and equitable future for all. The release of this new set of sector-specific guidance provides companies with a consistent approach to start or advance their nature-positive journeys.
The 12 sectors are: Building and Infrastructure, Chemicals, Construction Materials – Cement and Concrete, Energy Systems, Fashion and Apparel, Finance, Food (which includes Agricultural Products and Meat, Poultry and Dairy), Forest Products, Household and Personal Products, Tourism, Waste Management, and Water Utilities and Services.