L’Oréal Lays Out 2020 Sustainability Targets

Jean-Paul Agon believes that the “Sharing Beauty with All” program will be an integral part of helping the company to conquer a billion new consumers.

Jean-Paul Agon

PARIS — L’Oréal chairman and chief executive officer Jean-Paul Agon has laid out the company’s 2020 sustainability targets, highlighting his belief that in the corporate world of the future, corporate social responsibility concerns are just as important as those of profitability.

This story first appeared in the October 24, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“There can be no economic success without commitment to the environment and society,” he told journalists gathered at a press conference here. “We are redefining L’Oréal’s strategy for the next 20 years.”

Diminishing the negative impact of the global beauty industry’s largest company on the environment and society will be a key part of helping L’Oréal succeed in its aim of attracting a billion new consumers worldwide in the next 10 to 15 years, Agon said.

The “Sharing Beauty with All” program, which builds on the company’s existing 2015 targets, includes innovation, production, consumption and development aims.

By 2020, the company intends for 100 percent of its new products to have an economic or social benefit — for example, a reduced environmental footprint, sustainable or green-chemistry ingredients, more environmentally friendly packaging or a positive social impact.

The company is researching ways to reduce consumers’ water use when rinsing its shampoos from seven liters currently to one liter, Agon said by way of example.

In terms of its industrial footprint, L’Oréal plans to reduce its impact by 60 percent compared with a 2005 base, including 60 percent reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from its plants and distribution centers (at the end of 2012, the company had reduced these by 39 percent since 2005) and water consumption per finished product unit.

It also intends to send zero waste to landfills and reduce emissions from the transport of its products by 20 percent (from a 2011 baseline and per finished product unit).

L’Oréal is also working on devising a product-assessment tool to allow its consumers to make choices about products based on sustainability criteria, and has asked each of its brands to raise consumer awareness about sustainable lifestyle choices.

“We think it is our responsibility as a company to make sustainable development desirable,” Agon commented. “Let us make the act of purchase into a responsible act.”

In social terms, the company plans to extend access to top health care, social protection and training to all of its 100,000 employees around the world.

All of L’Oréal’s strategic suppliers, meanwhile, will be required to participate in its supplier sustainability program and be evaluated and selected on social and environmental performance.

Community commitments include enabling more than 100,000 people from underprivileged backgrounds — the size of L’Oréal’s global workforce —access to employment through various initiatives.

In Brazil, for example, the company has already begun working with women living in the favelas, or slums, of Rio de Janeiro to help them to distribute Matrix products to hair salons within their communities, and is looking into training women to become hair stylists in certain parts of Asia.