Blockchain can help end child labor in cosmetics supply chains

The cosmetics market is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, with it being valued at $532 billion last year and projected to grow rapidly – buoyed by social media influencers and targeted marketing. But what is ironic is the fact that sustaining the world of glitz and sparkle ultimately boils down to lackluster supply chains, which power the market by sourcing ingredients for cosmetics businesses to continue addressing market demand.

Like all global supply chains, cosmetics logistics contends with its fair share of complexities, which flare up due to the lack of transparency and visibility into operations of all the stakeholders within the value chain. Of the several raw materials being shipped around the world to cosmetics manufacturing plants, mica is proving to be a staple commodity, with most of the cosmetic brands using the mineral to add the much-needed “glean” to their products.

However, it is only when the discussion moves to the sourcing of mica that it starts becoming a concern. Most of the biggest brands in the business – like L’Oreal and Estee Lauder – source their mica from India, which is one of the largest producers of mica worldwide. In India, mica production is concentrated in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand and account for roughly 25% of the global mica production.

The problem with sourcing mica from these states is the rampant existence of forced child labor, in a population base that is part of the poorest demographic within India. About 35% of the population of Bihar and Jharkhand live on less than $0.50 per day, forcing low-income families to send their children to the mines rather than to schools. The Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), an organization fighting against child labor, estimates that around 10 to 20 kids die in collapsed mica tunnels every month in this region.

A report from the non-governmental organizations Terre des Hommes and SOMO estimates that about 20,000 children…

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