Indonesia’s beauty commerce, Sociolla, shows e-commerce can fight plastic pollution

Many cosmetics, skincare, or other beauty products are packaged very attractive to engage buyers. Realize it or not, waste is commonly and inevitably built into the beauty industry’s business model. With the rising beauty consumption that leads to the growing impulsive beauty shopping trend in our society, the waste issue in the beauty industry is getting more critical than ever.

Research by Cosmetic Packaging Market (2020-2025) stated that almost 50% of cosmetic products are made from plastic. The Minderoo Foundation report also revealed that the global cosmetic industry has produced more than 120 billion stated packages every year, most of which could not be recycled. 

Addressing this problem, Indonesia’s leading beauty commerce, Social Bella or more familiarly known as Sociolla, has taken some initiatives to tackle the plastic pollution in Indonesia, especially in the beauty industry. 

Founded by Christopher Madiam, John Rasjid, and Chrisanti Indiana in 2015, Sociolla has evolved from beauty e-commerce to integrated beauty commerce (online and offline channels), powered by beauty communities and journals. East Ventures has become the early believer which invested in Sociolla in 2015. 

While Sociolla expands the business, the company is concerned with sustainability, not only for the business but also for the environment. Chrisanti Indiana, Co-Founder, and CMO of Sociolla revealed that the company must contribute to reducing the packaging which will be thrown into the landfill. 

The first movement is the ‘Waste Down Beauty Up’ campaign in January this year. The movement consists of four main initiatives, aiming to raise awareness in Indonesia’s beauty industry in reducing plastic waste. Those four initiatives are: 

  • Encourage mindful beauty purchase behavior by offering small/mini-sized beauty products before buying the regular size product. 
  • Promoting mindful shopping by encouraging buyers to look up trusted reviews before buying products.
  • Encouraging customers to finish up their beauty products before buying a new one.
  • Promoting e-gift to avoid gifts that will not be used.

“As a leading beauty retailer in Indonesia, Sociolla has committed to driving a sustainable future for the beauty industry in Indonesia. We want to use the power of our ecosystem to advocate, promote, and help consumers make mindful beauty purchases. We believe the ‘Waste Down Beauty Up’ campaign is the starting point of sustainability in the beauty industry,” Chrisanti said. 

To date, more than 42 million users across Indonesia within the Social Bella ecosystem network have joined the movement and made a real impact on the environment. 

Sociolla has also stopped using bubble wrap in delivering packages, pinned the company as the first significant e-commerce firm in Indonesia committed to a zero bubble wrap policy. The firm also changed the delivery packaging to eco-friendly boxes to ensure sustainability in the business. Switching from bubble wrap to recycled paper wrapper is estimated to reduce the company’s plastic usage by around 250,000 meters/year.

Additionally, it also launched the Sukin x Sociolla Recycle Station, an initiative partnered between Sociolla and a global skincare brand, Sukin, to run a national-scale recycling program in March 2022. Currently, the recycling program is available at 43 Sociolla stores in 25 cities across Indonesia. In doing so, Sociolla collaborates with Waste4Change, a waste management company in Indonesia. Beauty enthusiasts can drop off their empty products to be collected and sent off to waste management facilities run by Waste4Change and will be recycled into valuable materials. 

Within two months since Sociolla started the recycle stations, the company has successfully prevented 1.4 tons of beauty waste from ending up in landfills. This positive behavior is believed to continue to grow and create a continuous impact, so more people will take on the responsibility of maintaining a green environment and be aware of implementing 3R (reduce, reuse, and recycle) in their daily lives.

Supporting the nation to achieve SDGs goals by tackling the plastic pollution 

Indonesia is grappling with a serious problem of plastic pollution. The World Bank stated Indonesia generates approximately 7.8 million tons of plastic waste annually. Approximately 4.9 million tons of plastic waste is mismanaged – uncollected, and leaked from improperly managed landfills. Only 10% of it ends up in recycling centers. 

The country is the world’s largest archipelago, with over 17,000 islands, 81,000 kilometers of coastlines, and rich marine ecosystems. Ironically, plastic waste has threatened and harmed marine biodiversity and resulted in Indonesia as the second-largest contributor to the plentiful plastic waste in the ocean. 

In the World Economic Forum 2020, the government stated its commitment to tackling the plastic waste problem and aimed to cut marine plastic debris by 70% in the next 2025. Moreover, the country aims to achieve a plastic-pollution-free Indonesia by 2040. 

The Sociolla initiatives in reducing plastic pollution and educating the market are contributing to the nation’s goals and aligned with several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs), including: 

  • No.12: Responsible Consumption and Production. 
  • No.13 : Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
  • No.14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.
  • No.15 : Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. 

By implementing these actions, Sociolla shows that digital companies can also create positive impacts on the sustainable environment. At the same time, supporting the nation and the world to combat environmental problems, and achieve Indonesia’s SDGs together.

“The initiatives are huge moves and not easy for us to make, but these are aligned with Sociolla’s long-term passion and first mission. We want to help people find the best products that suit their needs and only buy products they need. Being beautiful does not have to be wasteful. This movement is not only about caring for themselves in the best possible way but also can contribute to the world and environment. We are happy to bring more beauty enthusiasts into the force,” Chrisanti said.

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