LONDON — Unilever is moving to the front lines in the war on animal testing in cosmetics through a partnership with Humane Society International, and cruelty-free accreditation for its Dove brand from PETA.
October is proving one busy month for the consumer goods giant, parent of brands ranging from Dove and Vaseline to Ben & Jerry’s and Lipton: Last week, it nixed plans to quit London and base itself fully in the Netherlands, bowing to pressure from major shareholders who want it to remain a blue-chip company on London’s Stock Exchange.
On Tuesday, Unilever will reveal that it’s supporting a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics as part of a deal with Humane Society International. It will also say that PETA has officially recognized Dove, Unilever’s largest beauty and personal-care brand, as a brand that does not test on animals anywhere in the world.
Unilever will support HSI’s global #BeCrueltyFree initiative, which is lobbying for legislative reform in key beauty markets to prohibit cosmetic animal testing and trade, consistent with the European Union model. Animal testing for cosmetics has been banned in the EU since 2013.
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Unilever and HSI have launched a multiyear, open collaboration to develop long-term, animal-free testing solutions across companies and regulatory authorities. One aim is to invest in training future safety scientists in “next generation” risk assessments that don’t involve animals.
David Blanchard, chief research and development officer at Unilever, said the hope is that other countries adopt the EU model, develop alternative approaches to testing products’ safety and eliminate the need “for any animal testing for cosmetics anywhere in the world.”
Dove will begin displaying PETA’s cruelty-free logo on its packaging from January, trumpeting to customers that it does not, and will not, test on animals.
Sophie Galvani, vice president of Dove Global, said for more than 30 years the brand has used “nonanimal approaches to assess the safety of our products and ingredients, and we are delighted to say that our products will now carry PETA’s cruelty-free logo.”
PETA also plans to list Unilever as a “company working for regulatory change,” meaning that Unilever conducts no tests on animals unless specifically required by law for any of its brands or products.
Unilever is no stranger to the fight against animal testing: According to the company, it has more than 30 years’ experience in developing nonanimal approaches for assuring product safety, collaborating with more than 50 key partners across the world, including governments and NGOs.
The company said it shares its scientific expertise and approaches, and has offered to collaborate with a range of stakeholders on a global scale to share its safety assessment knowledge.
“We’re very hopeful that through collaboration — amongst companies, NGOs and governments — it will soon be possible to assess the safety of all cosmetics products without any need for animal testing anywhere in the world,” said Blanchard.
The latest moves are part of Unilever’s wider Sustainable Living Plan, which involves international health and well-being initiatives and a commitment to halving the environmental impact of its products by 2030.
The company said its sustainable living brands are growing 46 percent faster than the rest of the business and delivered 70 percent of the company’s growth in 2017. Unilever has pledged to become carbon positive in its operations by 2030, and to ensure that 100 percent of its plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.