California’s ban on animal-testing could remake cosmetics industry

Global Business

The state of California is often a leader in setting standards in environmental and social policies so it’s no surprise that recently, the state became the first in the U.S. to ban the sale of all animal-tested cosmetics. Although this is a huge victory for animal rights activists, there is a limitation to this new law and it has to do with China. CGTN’s May Lee reports.

It’s a practice meant to ensure the safety of cosmetic products, but it comes at a price to animals.

California, however, is leading the charge to ban animal testing. The state passed the Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, which prohibits manufacturers to sell any products in the state that have been tested on animals. The ban begins Jan. 1, 2020.

Animal welfare groups said it’s about time.

“Traditional animal testing on rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats, they are forced substances down their throat, into their eyes across their skin until they die a very painful death”, Crystal Moreland, California director of the Humane Society of U.S. said. “In this day and age with the science and human ingenuity we have to create such innovative solutions we don’t need these tests anymore.”

California joins nearly 40 countries that have banned animal testing for cosmetics including members of the EU, India and South Korea. And given that California is the world’s fifth largest economy, it’s likely to have an impact on the global cosmetic market, which in 2017, was valued at more than 532 billion dollars.

The fastest growing sector of the cosmetics industry is vegan, which hit nearly 13 billion dollars in 2017. And it’s forecast to grow seven percent through 2025.

In China, the cosmetic market is booming and demand for more organic, cruelty-free products is on the rise. But there’s a catch. China still requires animal testing on all imported cosmetic products.

For vegan cosmetic entrepreneur Jill Munson, who is launching her line “Wildling,” the China market is off limits…for now.

“I would never consider testing on animals” Munson said. “My company ‘Wildling’ is definitely not going to be able to sell in China until something like that changes because we’re not going to test on animals no matter what.”

Munson, who has worked in the beauty product industry for nearly two decades, holds out hope the growing demand for non-animal tested products will incite change both in the U.S. and around the world.

“Several of the retailers that we are working with they tell me the top questions that consumers ask across all of their stores in the US, in Canada, in other countries…is this product fair trade, is this product cruelty-free, this is what the consumers care about,” Munson added.

And consumers really can’t be ignored as that demand continues to rise. The global market size is projected to reach more than 20 billion dollars by 2025 with some of the fastest growth expected in China.