After decades of campaigning by consumers, and a series of bans dating from 2004, which banned the testing of cosmetics and their ingredients on animals, the EU finally prohibited the sale of cosmetics that had been tested on animals in 2013. This regulation became the gold standard for similar bans around the world.
However, Europe’s longstanding ban on animal testing for cosmetics is now under threat. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is calling for new animal testing on ingredients that have been safely used by consumers and handled safely in factories for many years – even those solely used for cosmetics.
For more than 40 years, Unilever scientists have been pioneering non-animal approaches to assess product safety including computer modelling and cell culture-based experiments. Committed to helping to bring an end to animal testing for consumer products and their ingredients, Unilever partners with more than 70 leading science teams globally to accelerate the use and regulatory acceptance of alternatives to animal testing, and collaborates with peers, NGOs and governments to share its safety science. As a result, Unilever is one of just five companies listed by PETA as a ‘company working for regulatory change’, and has a growing list of PETA-approved brands** taking action.
Julia Fentem, Head of Unilever’s Safety & Environmental Assurance Centre, said, “There is no reason to test cosmetics products, or the ingredients used in them, on animals. The European Chemicals Agency’s proposals pose a significant threat to the progress our industry has made towards ending animal testing for assuring the safety of cosmetics and other consumer products.
“If these proposals go ahead, hundreds of thousands of animals could be subjected to unnecessary tests, when innovative non-animal approaches based on leading-edge science and technology offer reliable alternatives to animal testing. We say use science, not animals.”
This change has the potential to affect all cruelty-free brands across the industry including the no animal testing and vegan claims that are desired and recognised by consumers, with three quarters of adults in EU member states agreeing that animal testing for cosmetic products and their ingredients is unacceptable in all circumstances***.
Earlier this year, Unilever launched its Positive Beauty vision, which aims to do more good, not just less harm, for people and the planet. As part of its commitments, Unilever stepped up its work and partnerships to support calls for a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics by 2023 - calls that were first made by the European Parliament in 2018.
Mimi Bekhechi, Vice President International Programmes, PETA UK said, “Unilever’s pioneering work on non-animal approaches has been critical to the progress the world has been making towards a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics. It’s only with collective action from companies, consumers, NGOs and governments that we can drive the changes citizens so want to see. It’s sad that once again we have to fight a battle that Europe’s citizens thought they had already won, but with a successful European Citizens’ Initiative, we can make decision-makers listen, protect the ground-breaking bans and secure concerted action to end the suffering of animals in EU laboratories for good.”
Giving European citizens the chance to make their voices heard, Unilever’s PETA-Approved brands are calling on consumers to take action. The aim of the companies, brands and animal protection organisations supporting this campaign is to get to the required 1 million signatures in the fastest time ever for a European Citizens’ Initiative - a mechanism for EU Citizens to help shape the EU by calling on the European Commission to propose new laws.
If reached, this will send a clear message to Europe that ECHA’s demands for new testing break with the policy of animal testing as a last resort, backed by the European Commission, and break with the wishes of EU citizens. The European Citizens’ Initiative calls on the European Commission to safeguard the ban on animal testing for cosmetics and commit to establishing a roadmap to phase out animal testing in the EU.
The time to take action is now.
Notes to Editors:
* Animal protection organisations behind the European Citizens’ Initiative:
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and its affiliates in Germany, France and the Netherlands
- Cruelty Free Europe
- Humane Society International/Europe and its affiliates in Germany, Italy, Poland and Romania
- Eurogroup for Animals
- European Coalition to End Animal Experiments
** Unilever’s 28 PETA-Approved brands: Dove, TRESemmé, Zendium, Love Beauty & Planet, Love Home & Planet, Simple, St.Ives, Suave, Sunsilk, Sedal, Seda, Elidor, The Good Stuff, Cafuné, Dermalogica, Murad, Hourglass, Kate Somerville, Living Proof, REN, Tatcha, Paula’s Choice, Nubian Heritage, Schmidt’s Naturals, Seventh Generation, Shea Moisture, Chistaya Linia, Emerge
***A survey by on behalf of Cruelty Free Europe reveals three quarters of adults in EU member states agree that animal testing for cosmetic products and their ingredients is unacceptable in all circumstances.
Additional data on the cruelty free market and consumer preference:
- According to the survey by on behalf of Cruelty Free Europe:
- Seven in ten (70%) adults in EU member states agree that enabling the full replacement of all forms of animal testing with non-animal testing methods should be a priority for the EU.
- Two thirds (66%) of adults in EU member states agree that the EU should immediately end all animal testing.
- Analysts forecast that the Global Cruelty Free Cosmetics market size is estimated to reach USD 10bn by 2024, and the market is expected to register a growth rate of 6.0% during the forecast period of 2019 to 2024. .