How does animal testing in the cosmetics industry impact the environment?


Animal testing refers to procedures that are done on live animals for various research purposes. According to the Humane Society this can be for basic biology and diseases purposes or for assessing the effects and effectiveness of new medicinal products or testing consumer products such as cosmetics and household products on human health. Whatever the reason for the animal research even those considered as mild cause the animals physical and psychological distress and suffering. While most animals are killed at the end of the tests to note down observations and results, some are re-used in further experiments.

The impacts of animal testing are far reaching not only for the animals concerned but for its environmental impacts as well. The pollutant effects on our water, air and soil are concerning as animal testing releases large amounts of environmental waste and toxic chemicals. There is the further fear of dangerous exposure to biohazards and radioactive materials. The impact of animal testing can be felt across a number of areas some of which are detailed below.

Resource consumption

Over a million animals are used for experiments every year with exact number of animals being uncounted as most of the animals used in experiences such as birds, rats, mice and cold-blooded animals are not covered by the Animal Welfare Act. Testing includes being genetically modified, force feeding, forced inhalation of toxic fumes, dripping corrosive chemicals into eyes etc. There is a massive energy consumption associated with animal testing as generally toxic carcasses and tissues are incinerated with many research facilities maintaining and operating their own incinerators. A great percentage of energy consumed in testing facilities is due to ventilation, maintaining indoor air quality, lighting and for operating intensive equipment.  A vast amount and variety of chemicals are used during testing from sterilization to sanitation disinfections and animal care. These chemicals are most often washed into waterways while the created animal waste can also result in water contamination.

Waste generation

Waste generation is a real issue with the animal testing industry as it creates large amounts of toxic and hazardous waste. It emits toxic waste into the air and releases harmful substances such as reactive, toxic and corrosive waste into the environment which has a terrible impact on the ecosystem. Animal carcasses is one of the major waste items created which can be contaminated with chemicals, lead, PCBs, ethanol and other such chemicals. The disposal of such contaminated biological waste does raise environmental concerns which is why the general method is incineration.

Animal testing is a huge waste of resources because most of the experiments are so worthless that they never even get published which is a massive waste of time, money and other resources that could be spent on research that would actually benefit humans.


The improper disposal of generated waste is one of the greatest threats animal testing produces. Millions of animal bodies many of which are contaminated with chemicals or infectious diseases and other hazardous substances enter our ecosystem. On top of this are the discarded research items such as bedding, excess feed, animal excrement, needles, syringes and caging all of which have an adverse effect on the environment.

Air pollutants from testing include the emission of gases and particles created by the incineration of animal bodies and lab supplies that can contain dangerous substances. The effects of animal testing on the environment include soil and water contamination as well as animal waste and other debris, chemicals and drugs are sometimes simply sent out into waterways. These toxins also seep into the soil causing contamination which affects the environment, animals and humans alike.

Is animal testing really required for the safe manufacture of cosmetics?

There is sufficient evidence proving that toxicity testing on animals is not necessary with in fact many cosmetic manufacturers looking for alternative to animal testing. In the United States the FDA does not require animal testing to prove that a product is safe though it does prohibit the sale of mislabelled products. However despite all of this old habits of using laboratory animals for testing still continues because unfortunately some markets such as China still prefer products that have been tested on animals.

More and more ethically conscious cosmetic companies are opting for cruelty free procedures and ingredients not sourced from animals. In the search for finding products that are safe for humans, the use of modern science techniques have found safe and effective alternatives to the cruel practice of testing on animals.

  • Stem cell research
  • Non-invasive diagnostic imaging
  • Testing cells and tissues in cell cultures and test tubes
  • Clinical research involving people
  • 3D tissue cultures

There is a growing movement of shared knowledge and best practices to replace experimenting on animals in labs. Researchers are sharing and comparing results done on healthy volunteers.

How you can make a difference as a consumer

Consumers too can make the conscious decision to not purchase cosmetics that have been tested on animals. Reduced consumption of animal tested cosmetics will reduce the demand which will then encourage manufacturers to look for alternative methods to sell their products.

Look for cruelty free products with certifications from companies such as The Leaping Bunny, donate to places that research alternatives to animal testing, do not buy from companies that are not cruelty free and help educate others.


The cosmetic market today has many top quality products that are cruelty free. Independent companies are making great strides in producing quality cosmetics that are great alternatives to those tested on animals. Thanks to scientific innovations the price of these products are reasonable as well because they do not require testing over and over again. Once research is done it can be used without requiring re-testing which helps significantly reduce costs.

The most important point though is that these products have no adverse effect on the environment which is a gift we leave future generations. We have just one planet and we all need to do out part to protect it. By making simple but significant changes we can all help to eradicate animal testing completely.

Seren Scents

Seren Scents is an ethical, cruelty free and Vegan brand house based in London that specialises in cosmetics, men’s grooming and sun care. Our vision and greatest strengths have always been uncompromising product quality and the strive to make beauty affordable and cruelty free.