EcoVadis as the Unifying Standard for Global Corporations: Summit Cosmetics’ Journey Towards Sustainability Management

May 27, 2024 EcoVadis EN


With a mission of “Believe in the power of cosmetics, and create a more beautiful world,” Summit Cosmetics Corporation not only imports and exports cosmetic ingredients but also operates as an ODM (Original Design Manufacturer). The company is the lead cosmetics material business of the Sumitomo Corporation Group and has expanded globally along with Group companies in Europe, North America, and South America. 

In 2022, Summit Cosmetics completed its first EcoVadis assessment and received a Bronze Medal. The following year, the company improved its performance and earned a Silver Medal. 

We spoke with Yoshiteru Shimuta, General Manager of the Corporate Department, and Daisuke Sumino, Manager of the Cosmetic Material Department, about global sustainability standards and how Summit Cosmetics utilizes EcoVadis.


Can you tell us about Summit Cosmetics’ sustainability efforts? 

Shimuta: Our company was established in 2019, separate from the Sumitomo Corporation Group, specializing in cosmetics. At that time, the Group’s cosmetic businesses overseas were already actively committed to sustainability. Summit Cosmetics Europe in France had achieved a Platinum Medal, and Presperse (United States) and Summit Cosmetics LATAM (Brazil) had received Gold Medals from EcoVadis. It made sense for us to follow this precedent of promoting sustainability and taking the EcoVadis assessment.

When I joined the team in 2021, one of our first initiatives was to engage more deeply with sustainability. We discussed with each department and decided on being resource-efficient, respecting human rights in supply chains, and promoting our safe and environmentally conscious products.

Yoshiteru Shimuta, General Manager of the Corporate Department

Please share your thoughts on the importance of sustainability in the cosmetics industry.

Shimuta: Being proactive about sustainability in cosmetics is highly significant. Major global cosmetics manufacturers try to anticipate trends, visualizing the entire production process, from raw materials to the end consumer, to add value to their products.

Sumino: From a sales perspective, sustainability promotion in cosmetics is progressive compared to other industries. With increasing consumer demand for safe and reliable ingredients, more companies are incorporating sustainability into their missions.

What were your first impressions of EcoVadis?

Sumino: I initially heard about EcoVadis from the Group’s overseas companies. Although there are other third-party sustainability assessment organizations, EcoVadis is frequently mentioned by those in the cosmetics industry—especially our clients. We considered taking the EcoVadis assessment a must.

What challenges did you face during your first EcoVadis assessment?

Shimuta: Our management and business departments formed a task force to prepare for the assessment. As we delved into EcoVadis' questionnaire, we discovered it covered various topics, including sales activities, internal regulations, education, and training. In particular, it took time to organize data that had been previously unmanaged, such as the time employees spent on training courses.

We carefully reviewed and adjusted our sustainability practices across various departments to better align with EcoVadis standards. In doing so, specific challenges became apparent, like our supplier relationships and internal awareness around sustainability. We then used the feedback we received from EcoVadis to prepare for the next assessment the following year.

 

Daisuke Sumino, Manager of the Cosmetic Material Department

Your score on the second assessment improved markedly. What steps did you take to improve your score?

Sumino: Drawing inspiration from case studies from our overseas Group companies, we focused mainly on sustainable procurement. First, we investigated the CSR initiatives of our cosmetic material suppliers. We requested scorecards from companies that had undergone the EcoVadis assessment and sent our own questionnaire to solicit responses from those that hadn’t. 

Since we deal with many overseas suppliers, we created our questionnaire in both English and Japanese. We communicated to each supplier the importance of sustainability and our company’s commitment to it.

By integrating responses from EcoVadis' Scorecards with our own questionnaires, we gathered comprehensive information from all our suppliers. Through this year-long process, our sustainable procurement theme score improved significantly by over 20 points. The Ethics theme was identified as our strength from the first assessment, so we further improved scores for that theme by updating compliance-related regulations and conducting internal awareness campaigns.

What has changed since you started working on advancing sustainability?

Shimuta: The EcoVadis assessment has made our management team and the company more conscious of sustainability. When we think of sustainability, we often focus on reducing energy consumption and other environmental considerations. However, I believe corporate governance is equally crucial as a broader aspect of our sustainability efforts. All employees play a part in sustainability, and this awareness continues to permeate throughout our company.

Sumino: The EcoVadis assessment helped us become more unified in learning about sustainability promotion, especially during our routine CSR meetings, which include participants from our Group companies abroad. Summit has also gained recognition from EcoVadis due to the high ratings received by our international companies. We are now considered trusted global project partners, especially to European clients. Our company’s sales represent our suppliers, so the trust placed in us greatly benefits our suppliers.

In 2023, our group company in the US, Presperse, participated as a panelist at EcoVadis' global event, World Tour Americas. By promoting sustainability throughout our entire Group, we significantly increased our presence and emerged as leaders in the cosmetics industry.

Summit Cosmetics’ booth at a Paris exhibition

What do you want companies considering undergoing the EcoVadis assessment to know?

Shimuta: We didn’t do anything extraordinary to score highly. Our company started the assessment process not long ago and has been entirely focused inward — we have not sought external assistance. This has led to our employees' more profound understanding and sustainability awareness. A third-party assessment like EcoVadis provides an objective view that helps us fully understand and improve our sustainability initiatives.

What is next for sustainability initiatives at Summit Cosmetics?

Sumino: Through initiatives like EcoVadis, we've learned that even small companies can make significant strides in sustainability. For example, conducting supplier surveys has allowed us to engage more deeply in these efforts. Our overseas group companies continue to lead in sustainability efforts, and we also want to strengthen them.

Shimuta: The modern customer seeks sustainable products: our company aims to meet that need. Moving forward, we are committed to deepening our sustainable management practices, continuously leveraging insights from EcoVadis assessments to enhance our global initiatives.

About the Author

EcoVadis EN

EcoVadis is a purpose-driven company whose mission is to provide the world's most trusted business sustainability ratings. Businesses of all sizes rely on EcoVadis’ expert intelligence and evidence-based ratings to manage risk and compliance, drive decarbonization, and improve the sustainability performance of their business and value chain. Its AI-powered risk mapping, actionable scorecards, benchmarks, carbon action tools, and insights guide a resilience and improvement journey for environmental, social and ethical practices across 200 industry categories and 175 countries.

Follow on Twitter Follow on Linkedin Visit Website More Content by EcoVadis EN

No Previous Articles

Next Article
Our Newest Chief Impact Officer, Nicole Sherwin
Our Newest Chief Impact Officer, Nicole Sherwin

EcoVadis announces the promotion of Nicole Sherwin to Chief Impact Officer, responsible for implementing be...