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Clarins Develops Sustainable Alcohol for Fragrances

The process combines growing trees and bushes with sugar beats over a long term.

PARIS — Clarins Fragrance Group is taking a sustainable tack to the development of alcohol used in its perfumes.

The parent of brands including Thierry Mugler and Azzaro said Thursday that it is involved in a program aimed at producing such alcohol in a manner that meets increasingly strict environmental and social requirements.

“We’ve been working on that idea for three years now,” Sandrine Groslier, president of Clarins Fragrance Group, told WWD, adding that the idea was spawned en route back from Brazil. “There, eco-consciousness is more important than ever.”

In order to ecologically produce sugar beets destined for alcohol production, a key ingredient in perfume formulas, Clarins has teamed with the Remicourt farm in France’s Amifontaine region, near Reims, to create a balanced ecosystem at the production site that protects and regenerates the environment.

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The way the agro-forestry domain operates is to use nature’s “free services,” which involves combining trees and bushes with the sugar beets over a long term. “The goals are to promote biodiversity and positive interactions between agriculture and nature, as well as reestablish an ecosystem that balances itself in a natural, intelligent way,” Clarins said.

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Last December, almost 2,200 trees — including alders, cherry trees, hornbeams and dogwoods — were planted on a 12.5-hectare plot of land. They included a double hedge made of about 20 tree varieties planted around the land area as a protective barrier, and in the field were planted trees with local wildflowers around their roots to help beat soil erosion and to retain water.

The sugar beets were planted in late March and are to be harvested in October.

Clarins said there will be both short- and long-term effects of the biodiversity, including a longer flowering period that’s beneficial for bees and adds more natural organic material to fertilize the soil, for instance.

The company said the project gives new perspectives on issues that it had been focused on since the Eighties. “They include improving our sourcing procedures by giving new emphasis to biodiversity in agricultural practices, based on the major advantages of local production and a short circuit — with minimal transport — between the harvest and transformation sites,” Clarins said.

Grolier emphasized such an eco-vision is part of the group’s DNA. “At the end of the day, we are doing something good for the planet, and also for the ecosystem and even for the economy. It’s not green washing. It is really a vision we have had since the beginning,” the executive explained.