The Ultimate Sun Protector series, advertised as an ocean-friendly sunscreen created for surfers, is launched by Shiseido together with the World Surf League to support ocean protection through the Shiseido Blue Initiative. Shiseido seems to be a company that genuinely commits to environmental protection and sustainability; its production process and company ethics are largely in line with the UN SDGs. Its environmental data are very transparent and easy to find, with whole datasets and reports directly accessible on the sustainability page of their official website. However, despite being advertised as ocean-friendly, the sunscreen lotion and stick still contain ingredients that might harm the ocean reef environment. I believe this product can be recommended given the many efforts Shiseido is putting into environmental conservation, although the harmfulness of certain ingredients in the sunscreen certainly needs to be addressed.
Sunscreens are likely to contain harmful substances that threaten marine reefs, which is important to be aware of since Shiseido’s sunscreen is designed especially for surfers who spend a lot of time in the ocean. The new formula from the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protector lotion and stick are both supposed to be ocean-friendly. Indeed, they are free of oxybenzone and octinoxate–chemicals that cause a lot of damage to the ocean and reefs. This is a big step toward ocean conservation and sustainability. With their new water-resistant formula, less product is supposed to be washed into the water. Not only does it mean more sun protection for the consumer, but also less water pollution–something Shiseido should be praised for. Unfortunately, the product has not yet fully gotten rid of harmful ingredients. Active ingredients such as avobenzone, homosalate, octocrylene still make up a large part of the product, which are harmful to marine reefs. One should have a second thought when purchasing these products and not blindly trust the glamourous ocean-friendly advertisements.
Although not much information could be found on the production process of this specific product (and they could definitely improve this), information on Shiseido’s general approach toward sustainable production is very detailed and promising. Data on their environmental footprints, environmental finance reports are easily accessible from their website, providing transparency to the consumer. Compared to many other companies, Shiseido puts in the effort to set clear, achievable goals. It has for instance set a target to achieve 100% sustainable packaging by 2025. A lot of plastic products are being replaced by certified paper, and glass used for packaging contains recycled glass cullet, largely reducing the melting temperature of the production process and the CO2 output. Products are constantly going through lifecycle assessments, and around 50% of them are produced in local Japanese factories. Besides taking care of the product materials, Shiseido also assesses their suppliers, as well as palm oil-derived materials and paper regularly through their procurement guidelines. Above all, Shiseido works with NGOs and palm oil smallholder farmers to promote human rights. These efforts could help them overcome many of the issues with palm oil certification, such as the social injustice of local farmers. Yet ultimately, one should always view these data with a critical eye, as they are mostly derived from Shiseido’s official website and may be linked with a bias in support of the company’s benefits.
Shiseido is a Japanese beauty company committing to Japanese tradition and innovation with a long history. It is partnering with the World Surf League (WSL) in the launch of the Ultimate Sun Protector series, striving to make a positive impact on the ocean environment. So far, it has introduced initiatives under the Shiseido Blue Project such as organising beach cleanups, planting dunes to safeguard shorelines from erosion, and promoting ocean- and sun-safe habits. Together with the WSL, and being an official partner of We Are One Ocean, Shiseido is also calling on world leaders at the 2021 UN Convention on Biological Diversity to protect and conserve at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030. In its business, Shiseido aims to work toward sustainability with all stakeholders involved in the production and sales process, this includes business partners, employees, consumers, and the earth. A clear set of goals can be found on their website accompanied by clear steps to get there; these goals don’t seem like unrealistic claims out of the thin air. Some goals include clean-sourced water use, endeavours to decrease waste while increasing recycling, renewable energy, water-saving, and employee training for proper disposal of industrial waste. All in all, Shiseido can be viewed as an excellent example in terms of sustainability commitments.