Biolage Raw Nourish

Sustainable beauty lines, such as L’Oréal’s recent launch Seed Phytonutrients, are not the only examples of the beauty company’s efforts to reduce its impact on the environment. L’Oréal recently published its 2017 Progress Report on its global sustainability program, “Sharing Beauty With All,” which provides a snapshot of the company’s environmental efforts.

“At L’Oréal, we are committed to advancing sustainable business, and our teams have made incredible strides in the last year, particularly in the U.S.,” said Danielle Azoulay, head of CSR & sustainability for L’Oréal USA. “We manufacture more than one billion units of product in the U.S. With that scale comes influence and opportunity to address environmental challenges.”

Azoulay, who joined L’Oréal USA in May from Marc Jacobs International where she started the company’s environmental program, said the efforts aren’t just to meet “goals for a report,” but an overall mind shift. “We are making this part of our ethos and embedding this value into everything we do,” she said.

Here, Azoulay digs deeper into L’Oréal’s efforts and what makes the environment so critical to the world’s largest beauty company.

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WWD: Why is sustainability so important to L’Oréal and how does the company approach it differently from others?

Danielle Azoulay: Sustainability is at the core of our DNA and everyone from the chief executive officer to our interns are making this program come to life throughout our organization. Our employees have embraced our global strategy. It is a holistic approach to sustainability where we look to identify and manage social and environmental impacts throughout our entire value chain. That includes the cultivation of our key raw material ingredients through to consumer use and end-of-life disposal of the product, and everything in between.

We have ambitious goals around waste, water and carbon emissions reductions. A differentiator for us is that it is really an “all-hands-on-deck mentality.” Our employees have embraced it and they are the driving force and momentum behind our progress. That’s why we have already exceeded some of the goals we put in place for 2020.

That is 21 facilities in the U.S. We were actually able to cut our CO2emissions by 84 percent in 2017, carrying us closer to our goal of carbon neutrality by 2019.

WWD: Consumers seem to be reading up more and caring more about the efforts of brands they buy. Do you find that is true?

D.A.: Millennials and younger consumers are really evaluating companies they support to make sure the company’s values are in line with their own. As the biggest beauty company in the world, we are able to leverage our scale in a way that others might not be able to and look at how we can positively impact society. That could be enabling more than 100,000 underprivileged people to access work, as an example. Our supply chain is big, so we hope our values have a ripple effect upstream.

We are always looking for ways to connect the dots to consumers. Last year, we had our first shampoo and conditioner [Biolage Raw Nourish] receive Cradle to Cradle certification, which looks at products in a holistic way, evaluating everything from water stewardship to energy management to social impact, culminating into one product level score. We are looking for different ways to let consumers know what we are doing to make these changes tangible. The Cradle to Cradle certification is a third-party validation and is one way we are doing this.

WWD: What is one of your most proud milestones?

D.A.: The renewable natural gas project we announced in March is an important project for us. It will help us reach carbon neutrality by 2019, which is ahead of our global goals. There are two types of energy we use in our operations; energy to generate electricity and thermal energy. We were able to reach 100 percent renewable electricity last year through on-site solar and wind installations and locally sourced renewable energy credits. For the thermal energy, the energy we use to generate heat in our facilities, we still needed to find a renewable solution. We identified a partner where we could prepurchase 15 years of renewable natural gas, which helped to finance the development of a processing plant at a landfill in Kentucky. The renewable natural gas processed at this facility will be injected into the Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline. The scale of this project is unique and will allow us to reach carbon neutrality across all of our U.S. operation facilities by next year.

WWD: How do you measure all of the environmental progress you’ve made?

D.A.: During the past year, L’Oréal implemented its Sustainable Product Optimization Tool, or SPOT, for short. It is one of the first sustainable product measurement tools in the beauty industry and it will be applied across our entire brand portfolio. Since 2014, L’Oréal’s teams, with the support of external experts, have worked to develop the methodology of this tool, which measures all of the environmental and social impacts of our products to help us identify additional areas for improvement. SPOT is instrumental in helping achieve L’Oréal’s goal of improving the social or environmental profile of 100 percent of new products by 2020. The tool was used to evaluate all new or renovated products in 2017, and 76 percent of the products launched in 2017 have been improved.

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