Sustainability

Taking action for a brighter future

Sustainability at DSM – taking action for a brighter future

Through a strategy based on tangible action, and driven by DSM’s overall corporate sustainability goals, we are working to build sustainable practices into the foundations of everything we do. Our approach targets all aspects of our business – from product development and manufacturing, to the way we work with suppliers and engage with local communities.

At product level, we provide clear information about the social and environmental footprint of our ingredients, their traceability and any applicable eco-certifications. And through sustainable innovation, from biotechnology to more eco-friendly suncare, we also hope to inspire conversation and overall change within the personal care industry.

DSM’s corporate sustainability goals in action

Safeguarding our world and its people

To make the world a brighter place we all need to work together. Our approach to sustainability is therefore driven by DSM’s overall corporate strategy - which is underpinned by five key United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

DSM's five key Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 2: Ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture

We improve nutrition for those that most need it – at the base of the economic pyramid - through fortified foods and micronutrients, delivered through our Nutrition Improvement and Africa Improved Foods initiatives– as well as long-standing partnerships with the World Food Programme and the independent nutrition think-tank, Sight and Life.

SDG 3: Ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages

Our health, nutrition, biomedical and high-performance materials are boosting health in all age groups - for example, by reducing salt and sugar levels in processed foods; and cutting carbon emissions from chemical manufacturing processes. Our First 1,000 Days Program supports mother and child health. Our DSM Life Saving Rules protect our people from harm; and the DSM Vitality Program promotes their good health.

SDG 7: Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable modern energy for all

At DSM we are making affordable, renewable energy a reality for all through materials technology that boosts solar power; and biofuels made from plants like corn. Our Bright Minds Challenge has nurtured bold renewable energy innovations like new lithium extraction methods ...

SDG 13: Taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

.. While inside DSM we continue to advocate responsible action on climate change with our stakeholders and are increasing the use of renewables in our energy mix - and reducing our carbon footprint - in partnership with RE100.

SDG 12: Ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns

Thermoplastics used in automotive parts like oil pans and car lighting are reducing weight – and waste. Our Niaga® Technology enables products like carpets to be 100% recyclable. We are taking a big bite out of food waste through products like Pack-Age®- a packaging solution for meat and cheese that extends shelf life. We are creating bio-based chemical building blocks like bio-succinic acid that will enable everything from packaging to footwear to be produced without fossils. Meanwhile, our Brighter Living Solutions are created to minimize waste across the value chain.

In Personal Care and Aroma Ingredients we work towards our Group’s sustainability targets by focusing on three of the SDGs:


Product stewardship is an essential aspect of corporate strategy and this is reflected in our own approach. From sourcing, production and processing, to transport, disposal and recycling, we are committed to managing and minimizing any possible adverse effects our products may have on people and the environment throughout the value chain.

Sustainability on the product level

Making it tangible

The DSM Imp’Act Card™ - making sustainability tangible for our customers

As socially and environmentally responsible cosmetic ingredients suppliers, DSM is committed to making all its products as sustainable as possible throughout the value chain. One way we are working towards this goal is with our Imp’Act Card™ which we have introduced to measure the sustainability of our products and to provide customers with transparent product information. 

The Imp’Act Card™ is organized around four pillars of sustainability: environmental impact, social impact, traceability and identity. Environmental impact takes account of carbon emissions, biodegradability, and water footprint. Traceability covers supply chain control, with suppliers asked to sign up to the DSM Suppliers’ Code of Conduct, and certification from respected environmental organizations.  Social impact focuses on two aspects: working standards and community development, and the health and wellbeing of consumers; and external certification is used to define identity such as naturalness, which might be ISO 16128 compliance, or NatTrue and Cosmos Ecocert labeling.

To give customers extra reassurance, all DSM’s own criteria are assessed against internationally recognized benchmarks such as the SEDEX SMETA audit for ethical trade, the RSPO guidelines on palm oil use, or the European Chemical Industry Council’s Responsible Care® initiative.

In 2019, we have already produced an Imp’Act Card™ for a select number of personal care ingredients and actives: D-Panthenol, Vitamin E, Niacinamide PC, ALPAFLOR® EDELWEISS CB, PENTAVITIN®, AMPHISOL® K, VALVANCE® Touch 210, PARSOL® MCX, PARSOL® Shield and PARSOL® TX. In 2020, we extended the program with the following personal care ingredients: ALPAFLOR® ALP®-SEBUM, ALPAFLOR® GIGAWHITE, ALPAFLOR® NECTAPURE PF, ALPAFLOR® SCUTELLARIA AO, SYN® -AKE, SYN® -GLOW, TILAMAR® Boost 150, PARSOL®  1789 and PARSOL® ZX.

Silke Adamietz, Marketing Communication Manager PCA interviews Gaelle Bathany, Sustainability Director PCA on the new Imp’Act Card™ methodology and how it can benefit our customers and the consumer of today.

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DSM UV-Task Force- bringing you the facts about UV-filters and the new sun care formulations

Environmental, health, and societal concerns all play a growing role in today’s consumers’ decision making- and there is an increased uncertainty towards UV-filters. At DSM, we believe in empowering customers and consumers to make smart choices. One way we do this is by sharing our expertise and insights and by providing transparent information about our beauty and personal care ingredients. Another is by educating, informing and facilitating discussions in order to encourage new ways of thinking and to support shaping the future of the industry.  With the DSM UV-Task Force DSM created a group of experts that does exactly that – monitoring current concerns and challenges related to UV-filters, with the clear aim to define strategies to bring clarity, transparency in order to provide best solutions. Learn more about the task force members and their projects they are working on here.

Sustainable Innovation – the future of personal care

A fully embedded approach

To be fit for the future, we all need to consider the value we can bring consumers in terms of transparency and social and environmental responsibility. One way we do this is through our Impact Card system. As well as giving customers clear, tangible and comparable data about the sustainability of our current products, these cards provide a benchmark when developing new ingredients.

Our innovations aim to pave the way for smarter, more sustainable production:

Accountability and transparency through certification and industry standards

A fully embedded approach

To address customer and end consumer concerns about the sustainability of our products and practices, we strive to provide transparent and objective information about our production, processes and operations.

One way we do this is through Royal DSM’s participation in Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) ratings and benchmarks. Overall corporate strategy prioritizes ratings and benchmarks that use a transparent methodology, rely on public information and are commonly completed by industry peers. This is so that stakeholders can easily understand, interpret and compare results, and make assessments on an equal basis. The Group takes part in a number of ESG ratings but the most relevant to Personal Care and Aroma Ingredients are the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Ecovadis and SEDEX.


DSM believes that convergence towards a single set of ESG indicators is urgently needed and is actively engaging with other companies and organizations towards this end.

DJSI (Dow Jones Sustainability Index)

After careful consideration, in 2019 DSM decided to no longer actively participate in the DJSI assessment process. Nevertheless, in September 2019 RobecoSAM announced that DSM remains listed among the leaders of the DJSI World Index - for the 16th consecutive year. Naturally we are proud that the publically available information on our sustainability performance is sufficient to remain listed among the leaders of the Index.

The House of Naturals - a guide to DSM’s natural, organic and sustainable beauty ingredients

We have also reviewed and measured our entire personal care and aromas portfolio against the criteria set out in the ISO 16128 standard on definitions for natural cosmetic ingredients. This internationally recognized standard has been introduced to harmonize definitions of natural, providing greater transparency for manufacturers and consumers, and is the only one to do so. By using ISO16128 as a benchmark, we can show that more than 45% of ingredients in our portfolio are of natural origin.

The ISO standard aims to harmonize definitions for natural and organic cosmetic ingredients in order to provide greater transparency for manufacturers and consumers, and to date it is the only internationally recognized standard to do so. DSM values the clarity it provides and would like it to go even further. DSM has therefore joined with other industry representatives in a working group led by the European organization FEBEA to compile a report that will provide fresh insights into technical aspects of the standard.

DSM goes further

In the meantime, although the ISO standard permits materials with 50% natural content, we have decided to stipulate a natural origin score of 60% or above for the ingredients in our House of Naturals. We have also excluded any ingredients which meet the requirements purely because the formulation solvent is of natural origin.

Transparency along the value chain

The future of personal care

A purpose led, performance driven approach

At DSM Personal Care & Aroma Ingredients we want to contribute towards a brighter, sustainable future and therefore have a strategy consistent with DSM’s overall corporate sustainability goals and underpinned by purpose led activities. For example, to improve the environmental and social footprint along the lifecycle of our products we are implementing various measures to optimize our production processes, reduce our emissions and waste, and offer equitable working conditions for our suppliers: Our ALPAFLOR® portfolio of skin actives is testament to this.

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And as part of DSM’s strategic alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #3, to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing, we have initiated a Safer Under the Sun campaign, to make an active contribution towards skin cancer prevention.

To provide customers with transparent information about the sustainability of our products DSM cooperates with independent organizations, such as the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Ecovadis and SEDEX. In addition to external evaluations, we have also introduced tools such as the DSM House of Naturals and the DSM Imp’ACT Card™. Both these programs enable us to measure the current sustainability footprint of ingredients against tangible criteria and to convey this information to customers. For example, as an outcome of reviewing ingredients for our House of Naturals concept, we can show that more than 45 % of DSM’s personal care portfolio is of natural origin according to the recently introduced ISO 16128 standard on definitions for natural ingredients. In the longer-term, DSM aims to roll out full transparency and traceability across all its supply chains.

Good health and well-being for all

Safer under the Sun

UV filters: part of a wider approach to skin cancer prevention

Although skin cancer is a preventable disease, rates have been increasing for decades. According to WHO statistics, currently, between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. In the USA meanwhile, the American Cancer Society reports that American people have a 20% chance of developing skin cancer by the age of 65. As a leading supplier of UV filters, DSM makes an important contribution to prevention of this illness. Our activities in this area are one of the key ways in which we support UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 - ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all - at all ages.

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With our unique portfolio of UV filters, emulsifiers and sensory modifiers, and through constant innovation to bring the latest sunscreen technologies to the market, DSM aims to make sunscreens both more effective and more appealing to use. This is essential because consumer studies consistently show that unpleasant sensory attributes are a key barrier to appropriate sunscreen use. But because many consumers still underestimate the power of the sun or are unaware of the dangers of UV light, DSM is also committed to educating people about the risks of UV and the benefits of applying sun protection regularly. Through our “Safer under the sun” program we aim to work with customers, consumers, governments, health authorities and NGOs to increase knowledge and understanding, harmonize SPF testing and develop legislation on sun protection worldwide. By encouraging people to make sun protection part of their daily routines we hope to take a big step towards reducing the number of people living with preventable skin cancers.

Racing to prevent skin cancer

Lifestyle changes lead to increased recreational exposure to the sun. While people do not adequately protect themselves from the sun, the risk of sun-related skin damage is increasing.  As infrequent sunscreen users, men are even at a higher risk of developing various forms of skin cancer; only 14% use sun protection daily, compared with 30% of women.

Awareness is a key battleground

To further advance the fight against skin cancer, DSM Personal Care & Aroma has been helping to raise awareness of the importance of sun protection, particularly among traditionally resistant groups such as men. As part of a wider awareness DSM Personal Care & Aroma has been working with the professional cycling team, Team Sunweb, to showcase a powerful example of men building sun protection into their daily safety routine without compromising on the activities that they are passionate about.

Over a series of race days, the riders tested DSM’s Millennials SPF 30 light texture lotion, often for hours at a time. “Our goal was to show that suncare products can be comfortable and quick and easy to apply,” says Christophe Vilain, Sun Care Application and Customer Support at PCA. “But we also wanted to demonstrate the resilience of our solution: they hold up in tough, competitive environments. The Team Sunweb project certainly did that.”

Check out in the video why Robert Power of Team Sunweb really likes DSM’s sunscreen solution.

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