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L’Oréal Sets ‘Carbon-Balanced’ Goal

The company by 2020 aims to generate carbon gains equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions related to its activities.

PARIS — L’Oréal said Thursday that it has set a “carbon-balanced” goal for 2020 as part of its Sharing Beauty With All initiative.

Via sustainable sourcing projects, the world’s largest beauty company aims to generate carbon gains equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions related to its activities. The announcement came three months prior to the United Nation’s COP21 conference on climate change that is to be held here.

Jean-Paul Agon, L’Oréal chairman and chief executive officer, discussed the plan during morning a press conference held in the company’s headquarters in the Paris suburb of Clichy. He was joined by Nicolas Hulot, special envoy of the President of the Republic for the protection of the planet and president of the Nicolas Hulot Foundation, and Christian de Perthuis, professor at Paris Dauphine University and founder of the climate economics chair.

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Since 2005, L’Oréal has cut by half in absolute terms – a year earlier than expected – the carbon emissions made by its operations while increasing its production by 22 percent.

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The company currently produces 400,000 tons of greenhouse gas annually.

L’Oréal has maintained its target for 2020 of reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent, as laid out by Agon when he unveiled the sustainability targets in October 2013.

In tandem, the company is working to deliver carbon gains with its suppliers of raw materials.

For example, there are is a project afoot in Indonesia, where the company culls patchouli for perfumes and L’Oréal has partnered with fragrance and flavors supplier Firmenich to grow patchouli and cinnamon plants together. That practice gives both producers a regular added income source and limits deforestation.

L’Oréal is to help the almost 22,000 women working in Burkina Faso who pick the nuts for shea butter to use cook stoves needing a reduced amount of wood. The results will be threefold: Producers can save economically, there is less negative impact on forests and the activity’s carbon footprint will be reduced.

L’Oréal’s goals for 2020 also include having no product linked to deforestation and reducing emissions from the transport of its finished products by 20 percent versus 2011.

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

Agon would not reveal the cost of the Sharing Beauty With All program.

“Whatever the cost, it must be done,” he said, adding that it is tiny compared to the benefits derived in social, societal, environmental and sustainable realms.

The executive has long maintained the belief that in the corporate world of the future, social responsibility concerns are just as important as those of profitability.

L’Oréal alongside experts has created a methodology to estimate its carbon gains, which will be made public. And an appointed committee of international carbon specialists now monitors procedures and evaluates the company’s results. The group meets yearly and is chaired by de Perthuis.