Operations play a major role in responsible and sustainable performance

As part of the L’Oréal for the Future programme, the Group continued to transform its business with a focus on respecting planetary boundaries. Operations and their extended ecosystem play a key role in achieving this goal.

Operations: pioneering sustainable transformation

At the heart of the Group’s business, Operations bring L’Oréal’s commitments to life throughout their extended ecosystem, which covers every stage in the value chain, from packaging design to supplier relations and from manufacturing to distribution. These commitments most notably include reducing carbon emissions, responsibly managing water and waste, and preserving biodiversity.

L’Oréal’s plant in Burgos, Spain, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021, is an environmental pioneer. In 2017 it became the Group’s first Waterloop plant, meaning it only uses city mains water for human consumption and as a raw material in product manufacturing. All other uses—cleaning equipment, producing steam, etc.—are covered by water which is recycled and reused in a closed loop. The site also includes a biomass power plant which enabled it to achieve carbon neutrality in 2015, a 1,500 square-metre solar farm and a biozone to promote biodiversity. This year, the plant added a greenhouse to dry sludge and reduce the waste it produces. The environmentally friendly drying system will use solar power to reduce sludge volume by 50%, which will also halve related transport and CO2 emissions.

All in all, by the end of 2021, six of L’Oréal’s 39 plants worldwide had earned Waterloop status, and 100 of its sites were "carbon neutral".

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L’Oréal USA achieves carbon neutrality

L’Oréal continued to decarbonise its business this year. Following China in 2019, L’Oréal USA—the Group’s largest subsidiary—achieved carbon neutrality in 2021 for direct and indirect emissions (scopes 1 and 2) at all 25 of its sites, including manufacturing plants, distribution centres, administrative sites and research centres.

The Group’s decarbonisation efforts are in line with the UN Business Ambition for 1.5°C initiative, which L’Oréal joined in September 2019. The goal is to achieve net-zero emissions of CO2 by 2050, to keep global warming under 1.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels, in keeping with IPCC trajectories.

To achieve this zero-carbon goal, L’Oréal has rolled out initiatives to reduce energy consumption and use more renewable energy. Examples include installing high-output air compressors, vacuum pumps, and solar panels, and using locally produced renewable energy or renewable natural gas provided by the methane produced from the natural decomposition of organic materials.  

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Limiting the use of virgin plastic in packaging

L’Oréal is also determined to pursue its efforts in eco-designed product packaging, working with suppliers to reduce the amount of packaging used and ensure it can be recycled, reused or refilled. The launch of refillable bottles and cases is an integral part of this approach. Rosso by Valentino, which was launched in 2021, is a prime example: the lipstick features an innovative refill system that reduces plastic, metal and cardboard use compared with standard lipsticks. In the premium skincare category, Absolue by Lancôme’s bottle is made of 40% recycled glass and can be purchased with an easy-to-use refill, reducing plastic use by 63% and cardboard by 37% compared with a full set.

Operations are committed to contributing to a circular economy process and developing partnerships in the fields of scientific and technological innovation to promote the use of recycled plastic on a large scale. For example, L’Oréal collaborated with Carbios to develop the first cosmetics bottle made entirely of recycled plastic using enzymatic technology. One major advantage of this process is that it can treat all types of PET plastic, whether transparent, colourful, opaque or multi-layered, and it can recycle them an infinite number of times. Biotherm was the first cosmetics brand to create a fully recycled bottle using Carbios technology in 2021. L’Oréal aims to put bottles based on this disruptive innovation into production by 2025.