Global cosmetic giant L’Oréal has launched a new, ambitious, sustainability programme, establishing the company’s vision towards 2030 with a notable focus on the impact of its products during use-phase. The strategy, entitled ‘L’Oréal for the Future’ has three core pillars: 1. Transforming ourselves and respecting Planetary Boundaries; 2. Empowering our business ecosystem helping it transition to a more sustainable world; and 3. Contributing to solving the challenges of the world by supporting urgent social and environmental needs. Across these pillars, the company commits to targets such as 100% renewable energy and ensuring all L’Oréal industrial sites are carbon-neutral by 2025; switching 100% of plastics used in products to recycled or bio-based plastics; and reducing emissions per product by 50% by 2030.
At first glance, these targets do not seem particularly unusual. Why then is this strategy ambitious? The answer comes in its second strategic pillar. In looking at its “business ecosystem”, L’Oréal is committing to extend its influence beyond production, by empowering consumers to reduce their footprint associated with product use. Part of this work is about inspiring and informing customers to make sustainable choices. Through a proprietary Product Impact Labelling system, due to be rolled out to its rinse-off products by 2022, L’Oréal will enable consumers to see the environmental and social impact of the group’s different products. And the company is also innovating its products for reduced use-stage impacts, for instance developing a shampoo that reduces the amount of water used. Measuring the impact of consumer-related commitments will admittedly be a challenge, reliant on a significant number of estimations. However, influencing consumers to achieve wider societal impact is a necessary ambition companies must strive towards over this decade, to meet global climate goals. With the leadership L’Oréal is showing, more companies must also look to effect change in places beyond their direct control.