How far must the cosmetics industry go to be ethically sustainable? The L’Oreal case

L’Oreal is a cosmetic brand known all over the world, the son of a multinational that, according to the recently published Sustainability Report, a few years ago (from 2005) began a process of transformation, albeit slow, to make products and the companies that produce them, more sustainable.

In the press release accompanying the Sustainability Report released in 2021, the company made it known through the words of the Global President of L’Oréal Paris Delphine Viguier-Hovasse that for the multinational:

“The time has come to accelerate sustainable innovation, to move to a circular economy and reduce the impact of our products. We don’t start from scratch. Between 2005 and 2020, our factories and distribution centers they have already reduced CO2 emissions by 82%, water consumption by 44% and waste production by 35%. There is still a lot of work to do, but we are strongly determined to make a difference in this one race against climate change. As the world’s # 1 beauty brand1 , we have the duty to change the codes of beauty to adopt a more sustainable approach and to allow our consumers to achieve responsible consumption “.

But what are the activities on which the company focuses in the coming months and years to reach the highest level of sustainability?

Here’s the list

The change involves some packaging optimization activities to facilitate the transition to a circular economy such as reducing the weight of products (those in aluminum, glass, but also paper).

  • PACKAGING By 2030, L’Oréal Paris will reduce the amount of packaging by 20%. Using 100% recycled plastic – L’Oréal Paris is working to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, in which materials are kept in use for as long as possible, optimizing the recyclability of packaging, striving to conserve resources and prevent pollution from plastic. This includes an increased use of recycled material in packaging, with the aim of reach 100% recycled or bio-based plastics by 2030 (or 0 virgin plastics). From 2020, Elvive, has initiated a major transformation in Europe using recycled PET al 100% (polyethylene terephthalate) for shampoo and conditioner bottles.
  • CONSUMER INVOLVEMENT The company will undertake an “educational” path towards consumers who will be encouraged to use, for example, refills or reuse of packaging. For this L’Oréal Paris will join the LOOP initiative and take part in a project to test new types of resistant packaging.
  • Improve the formulas for the reduction of the environmental impact – L’Oréal Paris is improving the biodegradability of its formulas and reducing their water impact. Among the products launched in 2019, Elvive Full Resist Power Mask and Men Expert Barber Club Shaving have biodegradability levels higher than 94% (97% and 94% respectively).
  • Save the water Furthermore, to encourage a more conscious use of water during the use phase of the products (which represents 50% of the brand’s CO2 impact, linked to the heating of the water for rinsing the products) and help reduce the time needed in the shower, L’Oréal Paris has developed formulas which require less water for rinsing

Facts and figures: L’Oréal Paris’ sustainability results and future goals

  • 2020: 93% of the brand’s new and refurbished products improved based on the cycle methodology life
  • 2030: 100% of all L’Oréal Paris products will be eco-designed Packaging
  • 2020: 76% of PET plastic is made from recycled plastic 100% of Elvive shampoo and conditioner bottles are made with 100% recycled plastic
  • 2025: 50% of the plastic will be recycled plastic, including 100% recycled PET 100% of L’Oréal Paris plastic packaging will be recyclable, reusable or compostable
  • 2030: 100% of the plastic will come from recycled or bio-based materials L’Oréal Paris will reduce the amount of packaging used for its products by 20% Formulas
  • 2020: 11,453 beneficiaries of our sustainable procurement programs for raw materials
  • 2030: 100% of L’Oréal Paris’ renewable and mineral raw materials will come from sustainable sources 95% of the brand’s ingredients will be of renewable origin, derived from surplus minerals or circular processes
  • 2020: 11 zero impact plants (out of 26 plants) 2025: 100% of the brand’s factories will be carbon neutral
  • 2030: 50% less CO2 emissions per product, compared to 2016 Environmental projects
  • 2025 10 million euros invested in environmental projects 88,515 tons of residual carbon emissions by 2025 54,000 protected hectares water
  • 2030: 100% of L’Oréal Paris factories will be “waterloop factories” The brand will offer a full selection of water-free hair care products Transport 2030: the intensity of carbon emissions related to the transport of our products will be reduced by 50% for each product

It is encouraging that a multinational like L’Oreal Paris works on all these environmental fronts linked to sustainability, however it would be equally commendable if the company did not comply with the laws of some countries, such as China, where there is the obligation of tests carried out on animals for the marketing of cosmetic products. Sustainability is also ethical and a powerful brand like L’Oreal can do a lot to change culture, given, for example, what it has done for women’s empowerment

(edited by, the lifestyle sustainable blog)


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