L’Oreal Has Big Sustainability Goals

L’Oréal released its 2010 Sustainable Development Report on June 10, which it published as an integrated website. The cosmetics company has set big goals, which include the goal to “win the trust and confidence of a billion new consumers in the next 10 years.” L’Oreal also has targets for 2015 to reduce by 50 percent its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste and water consumption per finished product.

A chart in the report lists what L’Oreal has accomplished so far to meet its 2015 goals, which include reducing carbon emissions by 27 percent since 2005, and sulfur dioxide emissions by 83.3 percent. L’Oreal decreased energy use per 1,000 finished products by 9.2 percent, water use per unit of finished product by six percent, and waste generated with returnable packaging per unit of finished product by 7,4 percent. A total of 961 percent of waste was reused, recycled or recovered for energy last year. More than 50 percent of L’Oreal’s industrial sites sent no waste to landfills.

The report lists the number of awards received by L’Oreal for its sustainability measures, which includes being named by the Ethisphere Institute as one of the “Most Ethical Companies.” L’Oreal was chosen among 1,000s of companies in over 100 countries and 36 industry sectors after an in-depth survey and several stages of evaluation. L’Oreal also placed first in the Innovative Reporting category of the Ethical Corporation awards.

Is L’Oreal as sustainable as it thinks?

L’Oreal launched the first of our global stakeholder engagement forum events on June 22 in London. David Connor, founder of the CSR consultancy, Coethica, reports about the stakeholder forum held in London. Connor came away with this about L’Oreal’s sustainability efforts: “Overall: Not perfect (but nobody is); good performance across the board; maybe more women on the Board; some exceptional best practice, but yet another corporate needing to communicate much, much better and rise to adequately fill their sustainability leadership potential.”

In terms of the ingredients L’Oreal puts in some of its products, it can do much, much better. The report states that L’Oreal seeks “to remove all endocrine disruptors from our products.” Parabens, which are commonly used preservatives, are considered by some experts to be endocrine disruptors. A 2004 study found parabens in breast cancer tumors. Listed among the ingredients of L’Oreal True Match Super Blendable Liquid Makeup are two types of parbabens, methylparaben and propylparaben. There are a number of cosmetic companies which do not include parabens, so it makes little sense why L’Oreal, which makes much of its commitment to green chemistry, still includes them.

“We are equally convinced that sustainable innovation is the pathway towards better, responsible consumption,” CEO and Chairman Jean-Paul Agon says in his foreward to the report. ” Agon adds, “We continue to invest in eco-design, the eco-evaluation of our ingredients and green chemistry.” Considering the sheer size of L’Oreal, if the company lived up to the words of CEO and Chairman Jean-Paul Agon in his foreward to the report it could have a big influence in terms of the cosmetic industry.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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