Unilever has stated its support for a global ban on animal testing of cosmetics as part of a collaboration with animal protection NGO Humane Society International.
The Anglo-Dutch corporate giant says it is backing HSI’s global #BeCrueltyFree initiative, which aims to ban animal testing for cosmetics across the globe within five years.
"The organisations hope that this new collaboration will accelerate policy change in the cosmetics sector globally toward a shared goal of animal testing bans in 50 major beauty markets worldwide by 2023," HSI said in a statement.
HSI and Unilever have also launched an initiative to encourage companies and regulatory authorities to make safety decisions for cosmetics based on non-animal test methods. The initiative will invest in training for safety scientists in the use of non-animal, "next generation" risk assessments.
Unilever, which reported revenue of €53.7bn for 2017, is the first among the beauty sector’s top 10 to actively support legislative reform to prohibit animal testing of cosmetics, HSI said.
Unilever operates across 190 countries, manufacturing everything from Vaseline to TRESemmé. In 2017, it created Unilever Cosmetics International, consisting of Calvin Klein Cosmetics and Unilever Prestige, the latter dedicated to fragrance and beauty brands.
Separately, Unilever announced that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has awarded cruelty-free accreditation to Dove, the company's largest "beauty and personal care" brand. The accreditation recognises Unilever is commited to refrain from conducting any tests on animals anywhere in the world for the Dove brand.
Peta has listed Unilever as a "company working for regulatory change", indicating that Unilever conducts no tests on animals, for any of its brands or products, unless specifically required to by law.
In May, the European Parliament voted to adopt a resolution calling for a global ban on animal testing of cosmetics by 2023. The practice has been banned in the EU since 2013, but is still allowed in most other regions.
European industry association Cosmetics Europe has said that implementing a global ban would be difficult for several reasons. In particular, not all hazard endpoints are associated with validated non-animal test methods, which means it is already hard to bring new products to the market.
Furthermore, it would be challenging to get countries that now require the use of animal testing of cosmetics – such as China – to change their approaches, the association told Chemical Watch in March.