Essential’s Sustainability Commitment

Written by: | June 22, 2016 | 3 responses

Our Sustainability Mission

Sustainability is more than a buzz word at Essential. Essential’s sustainability commitment shows in our business practices, responsible sourcing, and in our giving back to the community. These efforts reflect our core values: every team member, every product, every day. Working together with our customers, suppliers, and business partners, we continually strive to reduce our impact on the environment while building value for the future.

Sustainability in Action

Located in beautiful Portland, Oregon, in the eco-friendly, Northwestern United States, Essential Wholesale & Labs embraces our region’s sustainability commitment. Consistently named one of “America’s Greenest Cities,” Portland boasts over 10,000 acres of public parks and protected natural areas. As well as the government policies, residents of Portland work hard to protect our green corner of the world by enacting comprehensive policies that promote alternative energy, transportation, and sustainable building practices.

At Essential, we promote sustainable values by:

  • Choosing Portland’s industrial sanctuary to take advantage of its many regional environmental programs
  • Choosing renewable energy. With the support of our building owner, Essential is powered by the one of the largest solar-powered commercial buildings in Portland.
  • Partnering with UPS to provide 100% carbon-neutral shipping
  • Committing to responsible sourcing of ingredients as close to the grower as possible
  • Never, ever testing our products on animals
  • Sourcing packaging peanuts made from 100% compostable sorghum starch; they can be reused or dissolved in compost
  • Implementing LEAN Manufacturing practices to eliminate waste
  • Donating 55 gallon drums to the community for rainwater collection
  • Providing a robust in office Recycling program

Essential’s Core Values

We help our customers grow their business by offering an exceptional customer service experience. We create amazing, premium, and safe science- based skin care products from responsibly sourced ingredients from around the world. We believe in full transparency in our communications, our labels, and our business practices. We believe we are members of a broader community, and we want to do our part to contribute to and influence sustainable measures through the industry and our local community, too. These values drive our day-to-day activities and decisions.

Sustainability in our Facility

Q. Do you have or use renewable energy (solar panels, etc.)?
A. We have a large array of solar panels, providing 147,000 KWHs of power. Our facility has one of the biggest solar-powered installation of any commercial building in Portland. The balance of our power comes from Oregon’s clean, renewable and non-emitting hydroelectric power plants, which helps reduce carbon emissions.

Q: Is your building LEED certified?
A. In 2012 we moved the company into a vintage building in Portland’s Northwest Industrial area. Built in 1910 and made of brick and beam construction, we have modernized the space to allow for GMP compliant manufacturing and to maintain our USDA Certified Organic facility status. Though we are not LEED certified, and it’s unlikely the building could be, we are essentially a monument to recycling and re-purposing older properties.

Q: How do you clean the factory? Do you use harsh chemicals?
A: We only use three types of cleaners in our facility: Citrajet, Simple Green, and Alcohol. We follow strict regulatory guidelines for cleanliness and do not use harsh chemicals to maintain the stringent requirements of GMP compliance and organic certification.

Q. Is your water clean?
A. Portlanders are very proud of the quality of water in Portland. The Bull Run Watershed, located in the mountains above the city, is fully protected and provides most of Portland with quality water. This watershed contains some of the purest city water sources in the U.S. We have more than 150 microbreweries in and around Portland for this exact reason. Within our facility, we filter and de-ionize our water before using it in any products.

Sustainability in our Products

Q. How do you source your ingredients?
A. We source from growers and producers around the globe. As part of our commitment to responsible sourcing, we buy ingredients as close to the source as possible whenever we can, and we work hard to establish brilliant relationships with trusted, honest, and ethical vendors. We also work to replace high-impact ingredients, like Argan Oil, with lower-impact ingredients, like Marula Oil. Every ingredient that enters our building comes with a Certificate of Analysis and SDS (Safety Data Sheet). We know where the vast majority of our ingredients come from, as well as how they are harvested and produced. 

Q. Are your products Vegan?
A. The vast majority of Essential products are vegan, though a small number of  products are made with animal by-products. The non-vegan ingredients we use are: lanolin, beeswax, honey, lactose, goat’s milk, keratin, collagen, silk powder, and pearl. We are currently trying to source silk powder that does not come from silk worms.

Q. Are Essential’s products tested on animals?
A. No. We never test on animals. Therefore, our team members volunteer to be test subjects for our formulations.

Q. How many products do you manufacture that are USDA and Ecocert certified?
A. Since 2007 Essential has held USDA Certified Organic designation through Oregon Tilth. As of the time of writing, we offer 41 USDA Certified Organic ingredients and eight products on our website. We also manufacture USDA Certified Organic products for our private label customers. We do not carry Ecocert Certification.

How does Essential handle waste and waste water?

Q: How does Essential manage waste?
A: We manage our waste in a variety of ways:

  • We recycle paper, glass, and aluminum as part of the City of Portland’s Sustainability at Work program. The City of Portland has a robust curbside recycling and compost program.
  • We donate rain barrels – Essential gives our retired drums to the community for rainwater collection. Portland City residents are committed to water conservation, and many of us collect rain water in 55-gallon drums for use at home to water gardens and yards.
  • We reuse pallets – we continuously recycle and re-use our pallets. Retired pallets get given to the community for re-use instead of filling up landfills.

Q: What about waste water? Is it treated and reused?
A: We work hard to minimize our wastewater. Portland’s comprehensive water treatment and analysis program processes the small amount of waste water we do generate. You can learn more at Portland Water Bureau’s website

Q: Does Essential have a recycling program?
A: The City of Portland has a comprehensive Sustainability at Work program in which Essential participates. Prominent and plentiful collection locations for paper and glass waste are throughout our facility. Additionally, all employees use recycling bins at their desks. As well, recycle bins located at printer stations and in each break room. Signage clearly identifies recyclable materials. For confidential information, we employ an onsite shredding service that recycles all shredded materials.

Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Year after year, Essential commits to continually expanding our sustainability initiatives. Particularly relevant to this year’s efforts is our new tree-planting initiative working with One Tree Planted to help reforestation efforts in Indonesia and other fragile forest ecosystems. As part of this endeavor, Essential donates one tree for every product review we receive on our website or through social media. As part of Essential’s sustainability commitment we continue to invest in LEAN manufacturing as part of our ongoing efforts to reduce waste in every area of our business. Additionally, we attend Organic Monitor’s Sustainability Conference every year and look for both small and large ways to be a positive influence in the natural and organic cosmetic space, as well as in Portland, Oregon.


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