L’Oréal chases “carbon-balanced” commitment as footprints shrink

Cosmetics giant L'Oréal has made significant progress in its sustainable development plan, with figures showing the company is on course to reach targets to reduce emissions, water consumption and waste generation by 60% by 2020.

Last year, L’Oréal made a commitment to become a “carbon-balanced” company by 2020 by reducing emissions linked to its industrial activities and generating carbon gains through the sustainable sourcing of raw materials.

The company has already made substantial headway in several key areas of sustainability, most significantly in carbon reduction. L’Oréal’s Sharing Beauty With All Report 2015 revealed that CO2 emissions from production decreased by 56% in absolute terms, despite a production increase of 26% from a 2005 baseline. The two-way progress highlights a success in dissociating carbon emissions from economic growth.

L’Oréal’s two-pronged approach to reducing water consumption – by optimising water use while developing projects to reuse and recycle water at production sites – has produced a 45% reduction in water consumption in plants and distribution centres since 2005.

The cosmetics firm’s commitment to reducing its industrial waste involves decreasing the use of materials in all areas of its industrial activity. This method has enabled a 31% reduction in waste from plants and distribution centres since 2005, in addition to a waste to landfill figure of just 2.2%.

L’Oréal chief executive Jean-Paul Agon said: “Our progress proves that we are capable of doing more and raising the bar even higher. In the fight against climate change, 2015 was a milestone year, marked by the signing of a historic agreement at the COP 21.

“Just before the conference, L’Oréal made a commitment to become a carbon-balanced company by 2020 by capturing as many emissions as we produce. This new ambition reflects our desire to develop an innovative low-carbon business model and to do our utmost to support the collective campaign to reduce global warming.”

Green makeover

L’Oréal’s ambitious programme reflects a long-standing tradition of sustainable responsibility aimed at establishing a positive impact on the environment. In February, LOréal’s largest retail brand The Body Shop launched an ambitious new CSR strategy including an overarching goal to be the world’s “most ethical and truly sustainable global business”.

New targets included ensuring 100% of The Body Shop’s natural ingredients are traceable and sustainably sourced; reducing the energy consumption of The Body Shop stores by 10% every year; and guaranteeing that that 70% of The Body Shop’s product packaging does not contain fossil fuels.

In the same month, edie reported that some of The Body Shop’s packaging could soon be made from greenhouse gases that would otherwise pollute the atmosphere, thanks to a new research partnership between the retailer and cleantech firm Newlight Technologies.

Last year, L’Oréal teamed up with self-adhesive label firm Avery Dennison to identify and reduce the environmental impacts of packaging labels throughout the entire label lifecycle.

George Ogleby

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