Beauty will save the world! What do you feel and imagine when reading these words? Some imagine the beauty and purity of the soul, the beauty of love to people and nature. Some do imagine the actual physical beauty, flawless skin, highlighted cheeks, and lips. But if so, how can beauty save the world if the cosmetics industry is so badly polluting the environment? Let's have a short talk about the cosmetics industry and environment, Arkive's ideation and the beginning of the lifelong struggle.
Before taking you through the journey of Arkive and its challenges, here are some rough numbers from the cosmetics industry. More than 120 billion plastic packaging units are used every year, and only 9% of plastic waste is recycled. 79% of packages end up in landfills and the natural environment. Those numbers will worsen because the production scales grow every year, increasing pollution and resource consumption simultaneously. Can you imagine what will happen in a couple of years if no preventive actions are taken? Big market players don't waste resources on recycling, disrupting the industry transformation from a linear economy to a circular one.
Regardless of gender, age, education, and belief, any conscious consumer will feel responsible for taking action and making changes, even insignificant. So did the founder of Arkive. The idea of Arkive started from the consciousness that there was a huge problem, our problem - confirmed by markets e.g. France, who moved their destruction activities to The Netherlands.
The journey of Arkive through the eyes of Sinem Tuncer
"Everything started in October 2019. I knew there was a problem, employees of large cosmetic corporations confirmed it and numbers said it all. We will keep their names private as gratitude for sharing invaluable data. We started extensive market- and supply chain research and immediately faced a problem. There was no evidence to be found, whilst voices from the inside were explaining the opposite. Fortunately, there were advocates of environmental protection who liked the idea of Arkive and secretly shared internal data. We found out that information is hidden within the regions and never shared outside of it. The other thing is that the problem is spread in the overall beauty the supply chain as it starts from manufacturers, but somehow ended up in black markets. The funny thing, nobody feels accountable, and we created the problem with our own goals and contract terms.
The first challenge was to develop a tangible business plan with numbers that would attract partners to collaborate for waste reduction. Arkive was rejected, unfortunately, and we understood that the problem mostly came from the unawareness of many levels, especially consumers. No demand, no supply, quite rational, isn't it? That is why we started to work in two ways: raising awareness among consumers, pushing our mission in the cosmetics industry, and looking for supporters. We emailed the whole supply chain, including the brands, distributors, manufacturers, channels that sell makeup and store owners. Hard work finally gave results, and after a couple of months, we got the first partners who supported our mission.
Arkive faced another big challenge along the way. Having no income and being a self-invested platform, it needed support. You know, money has a bizarre feature; they keep running out. That was when Antler came in to help us. We will definitely talk about them soon to appreciate their contribution to Arkive's development.
Going back to those days, it seemed that Arkive would never fulfil its mission. We lost team players along the way; we got rejected by most companies.
We still were persistent along this journey and even facing so many challenges, and we knew where we wanted to go. The next step was the European Green Deal program and our attempts to work with the government. Unfortunately, again Arkive faced a massive wall of indifference. The explanation for rejection was not quite convincing. For the Green Deal, plastic was more important than product destruction. But the thing is that when destroyed, the products, mainly with plastic packaging, are buried in the ground.
That was it; we got rejected by environmental programs, our government, and brands who were scared of PR drama because of the sensitivity of the topic. It was apparent the ego and power were overplaying the actual problem for waste management and circularity.
There were moments we thought we would never make it, and at some point, we were almost ready to give up, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel…”
To be continued.