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    How L’Oreal Became a Sustainability Leader

    The biggest cosmetics brand in the world is on a mission to prove that all businesses can become sustainable without compromising their profitability.

    The L’Oréal Group is the largest and most profitable company in the cosmetics industry, currently valued at $13.69 billion. Nonetheless, between 2005 and 2016 the company was able to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by an impressive 67% while at the same time it managed to increase its entire production by 29%. This is an amazing accomplishment that demonstrates a true devotion to sustainability. As Alexandra Palt, L’Oréal’s chief sustainability officer recently mentioned to FastCompany magazine “We are really serious about sustainability across all of our products and services”.

    Sustainability Can Go Hand-In-Hand With Economic Success

    Achieving sustainability in the cosmetics industry is nowhere near as simple as swapping out petroleum-based products for plant-derived alternatives, since the entire industry supply chain from the sourcing of material to the packaging of products can leave a huge environmental footprint. However, L’Oreal’s CSO was able to focus on each stage of product development and achieve an effective sustainability overhaul. Mrs Palt was able to do that through the following steps: Sourcing from renewable raw materials like plants; tightening transit routes and switching to electric vehicles to reduce transport-related emissions; converting manufacturing facilities to run on renewable energy; reducing the amount of water wasted in the production process by installing on-site treatment mechanisms; re-engineering packaging to use less plastic, or biodegradable materials when possible.

    The Importance Of Employee Training Programs

    Under the leadership of the L’Oreal CSO, the company was able to tackle this daunting task mainly through comprehensive employee training programs (like the sustainability training programs offered by CSE) on various areas of sustainability (CSR). This is extremely important in order to create a strong sustainability department that can guarantee positive results. When the CEO has such a strong vision for how a company can transform, you have to have a way to transform that strategy into action,” Palt says. So, the CSO’s department has been able to accelerate its plans to increase sustainability by linking all L’Oréal brand and country managers’ bonuses to outcomes on environmental targets.

    As the largest cosmetics company in the world, L’Oréal is an obvious benchmark in the industry. However, Palt doesn’t want the company’s sustainability efforts to be seen as attempts to teach other businesses a lesson. Instead, these efforts are driven by a sincere desire to effect real change and ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the same benefits as we do.


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