Weleda R&D head says circular green beauty possible with sustainable definitions and beauty collaboration

Established this year, Weleda’s ‘Futurum’ group [future in Latin] was formed of five people dedicated to speedy ideation, product development and market testing. Working across formulation, packaging and final products, the integration of a small but “agile”​ internal startup represented a “very new”​ way of working for Weleda, said Dr Bernhard Irrgang, head of R&D for natural and organic cosmetics at Weleda.

“It’s five people sitting together creating ideas and going quickly to a test market stage,”​ Irrgang told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

The team typically brought new product ideas to market in around half the time it took traditional NPD processes, he said, and ideas were then upscaled globally by wider R&D teams if successful. “We’re trying to switch our way of innovating,” ​Irrgang said.

So, what exactly was Weleda focusing on in innovation terms over the next 3-5 years?

Packaging, formulas and regulation

The R&D head said there were three areas driving and shaping innovation at Weleda: sustainable packaging, formula efficacy, and regulation.

The European Union’s Green Deal and integrated Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, he said, was especially critical for the natural sector because of how much it shrank toolboxes and increased checks and balances. He said the Chemicals Strategy, in particular, was an “over-regulation”​ that created a “real danger for the natural sector”.

“In the new chemical legislation, they have changed the system, so we have to prove that each little substance that it is safe. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had hundreds of years’ experience.”


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