Placed among the world’s 100 most sustainable company 4 years in a row, one of the company’s mottos is that “sustainable development is a driver for responsible growth and a source of inspiration for our brands”. The company states that it wants to reduce its manufacturing carbon footprint, as well as its use of natural resources with more eco-efficiency and lowered environmental impact. Since 2005, L’Oreal has targeted to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, waste and water consumptions per finished product by 50%, while doubling their business by 2015. Since 2004, the company has been publishing its annual Sustainable Development Reports, showing its commitment towards attaining these goals.
During the past years, L’Oreal has undertaken initiatives as part of its sustainability goals, and has also received acknowledgement for its achievements on this area. Its sustainability strategy has 3 main aspects:
_Incorporating the sustainability principle into innovative products and processes
_Designing a more environmental-conscious business model that can bring economic successes while meeting social responsibility
_Maintaining “intangible value drivers” such as human and intellectual capital, and stakeholder relations.
These initiatives have also been put in place at L’Oreal factories around the world. In Belgium, one of its factories is in a dairy farming area; therefore, since 2009, the company has been buying animal waste from farmers and transforming it into bio-methane to power the site. In China, L’Oreal has a factory in Suzhou, where it has installed 269,00 square feet of solar panels that are expected to produce 1.5 million KW/h of green electricity per year.
In terms of resources, since 2010, L’Oreal has been using 100% certified sustainable palm oil, and is currently working on using soya oil with similar aims. The company has been ranked as one of the top ten companies for the responsible use of palm oil by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). As Francis Quinn, the director of sustainable development, has commented:” It is about securing future resources and building our reputation”.
On the down side, the company admitted that it is much more complicated to communicate its aims to its consumers than to its investors. Consumers might still often see big companies like L’Oreal as environmental villains, since a lot of these initiatives are mostly behind-the-scene and invisible to consumers. However, the fact that L’Oreal has been acknowledged multiple times for its achievements in the area does say something about its efforts. At the end of 2010, the company has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 27%, water use by 19% and waste by 17%. No matter what people say, the beauty giant seems like it is on its way to the ambitious 2015 sustainable development targets.