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L’Oréal’s Big Plan Is To Be Carbon Neutral and Plastic-Free in 10 Years

The global beauty brand wants to break your single-use sachet habit.
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Sustainability is one of those lofty concepts that’s hard to pin down. How can you stop being a jerk to Mother Nature? Do you use a bamboo straw but deprive baby pandas of food? Do you use a metal straw, save baby turtles (instead), but risk puncturing the roof of your mouth? Or do you just use your natural water hole when drinking from… a plastic cup? These are the big brain questions that can leave the well-meaning person paralyzed.  

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L’Oréal plans to be carbon-neutral and plastic-free in the next 10 years.

As workaholics know, the best way to conquer a complex idea is by making a solid plan and then breaking it down into bits. That’s what big beauty company L’Oreal is doing.

The ambitious plan includes these: By 2025, the company’s manufacturing, administrative, and research sites will be carbon neutral (by improving its energy efficiency and using of renewable energy), and by 2030, 100 percent of the plastics used in its packaging will come from recycled or bio-based sources. The French-based company, which houses skincare, haircare, and makeup brands, from Kiehl’s to La Roche-Posay, is rapidly shifting toward a green business model this year. 

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In addition to the goalposts above, the company has identified similar targets in the areas of climate change, water sustainably, biodiversity, and natural resources. Another notable goal? By 2030, 100 percent of water in its industrial processes will be reused in a loop. It's also establishing two separate funds, each with €50 million (around P2.8 billion), to restore marine and forest ecosystems and support the circular economy. 

It’s launching a labeling system that provides the green scores of products.

Those are the faraway goals, but you can expect green changes on the horizon. At the local presentation of the sustainability roadmap, an image of scores was flashed on the screen. Supriya Singh, country managing director of L’Oréal Philippines, underlines how sustainability is about education and awareness—in other words, it starts with you.

For this, the company has rolled out an Environmental and Social Impact Labeling system, which scores products from A to E—A being the best for the environment. According to L’Oréal, the score takes into account 14 impact factors, from greenhouse gas emissions to impact on biodiversity, measured at every step of a product’s life cycle.

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For the company, reaching its big sustainability goals is a community affair. It’s all about empowering consumers, who Singh notes are asking better questions about the products they see in stores right now. Giving you access to an array of information, from manufacturing conditions to packaging profiles, is the first step to achieving sustainability as you can quickly choose the greenest products to include in your life.

The labels, which can be accessed on the brands’ websites, are already included Garnier France’s hair care products and will be applied to all of L’Oréal’s rinse-off products by 2022.

L’Oréal is doing its hardest to break your sachet habit—plus other sustainability plans.

1 | Skincare brand Garnier leads the way for L’Oréal’s big plans. 

Garnier takes on, what it calls, Green Beauty with an end-to-end approach, from the use of 90-percent natural ingredients in its formulas to ensuring packaging is made from recycled plastic. Included in its plan is the use of cardboard-based packaging and also lighter plastic, both of which will contribute to its goal of zero virgin plastic packaging by 2025. 

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2 | Other labels in the company’s portfolio are magnifying their sustainability efforts, too.

Kiehl’s, a more familiar name (the Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel-Cream is a summer lifesaver), already has a recycling program, in which clients are encouraged to recycle a certain number of empties to get a fresh product. This is a family affair for L’Oréal and more of its brands will be powering up their green efforts soon. 

3 | L’Oréal is trying its hardest to break the Filipinos’ sachet habit.

L’Oréal leaders note that the first step to breaking your love of sachets is education: You shouldn’t be using single-use sachets, especially when you know that you’ll use a tub of shampoo for the month. The good news is that younger consumers are more enlightened today, upgrading to larger product sizes that have a smaller environmental footprint. 

Also in the works are recycling and refillable programs, but the infrastructure for the systems need to be put in place.

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Bonus: The beauty brand addresses the whitening chatter.

Although the presentation was intended for green talk, a lot of questions about whitening and lightening came up. The official stance of the beauty brand is that it does not promote and has never released products for skin bleaching.

Moving forward in the Age of Wokeness (not whiteness), L’Oréal will rework its branding and marketing to underline what these products do—sun protection (important!) or managing uneven skin tone and dark spots—and not just chuck them under the umbrella term of whitening. While not part of the green movement, this is important, too.

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Clifford Olanday
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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