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Exclusive interview: L'Oréal unveils its sustainability ambitions

Alissa Demorest
Exclusive interview: L'Oréal unveils its sustainability ambitions

Philippe Thuvien, general manager of packaging & development at L'Oréal, shares his road map for sustainable packaging with Formes de Luxe. A sneak preview of our exclusive interview published in the magazine's November issue.

In 2007, L’Oréal committed to reducing the environmental impact of its packaging.

Indeed. Spurred by the fact that packaging can represent up to 50% of an end product’s environmental footprint, the group set itself ambitious goals. In 2013, ceo Jean-Paul Agon committed to the fact that by 2020, 100% of new products would have an improved environmental or social impact. That means that for each product launched, we evaluate the packaging and formula impact using SPOT (Sustainable Product Optimization Tool), a tool developed in-house. This generates a rating, and all new products must have a better ‘grade’ than those that came before. However, social progress cannot compensate a decrease in environmental per­formance. In 2018, 79% of our new or revamped products had an improved environmental or social profile. We’ve made another commitment through the Elen MacArthur Foundation. And in 2025, all our plastic packaging will be rechargeable, refillable, recyclable, or compostable, and 50% of the plastics we use must be either recycled or bio-based.

Is your partnership with Carbios a bid to increase the volume of recycled plastic?

Yes. Carbios’s bio-enzymatic technology will enable us to expand our feedstock of recycled plastic. Today mechanical recycling is done with beverage bottles, but the bio-enzymatic process allows for the recycling of textiles, polyester carpets, and a number of other polyester products. The quality is nearly that of virgin plastic: it is totally transparent and food-grade. Our goal is to support Carbios so that we can source enzymatic PET by 2023. Given that mechanical recycling currently doesn’t produce the same quality product as virgin plastic, our teams are working to find an acceptable compromises. Garnier’s Bio line, for example, is entirely recyclable and comes in 100% post-consumer recycled PET and we’re launching more and more bottles with ambitious levels of PCR. But enzymatic PCR will offer the same visual and aesthetic quality as virgin plastic by 2021.

Rechargeable formats are gaining ground at L'Oréal.

The group is coming out with more and more of these products. We’re currently launching a refillable jar for Yves Saint Laurent and another for Lancôme. Saint Laurent’s first Pure Shot serums will also soon be released: beautiful packaging that comes with glass refills. It might be easier for the luxury segment as it’s simpler to offer complete products and refills in selective distribution. But we’re working on this across all of our divisions and have even just launched a rechargeable jar for L’Oréal Paris.

Read the full interview in Formes de Luxe n° 133

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