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L’Oréal banks on transparency and green sciences

Katie Nichol
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L’Oréal banks on transparency and green sciences

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In a bid to develop renewable alternatives to the use of petrochemical ingredients, L’Oréal is putting a focus on green sciences in research and innovation. Luxe Packaging Insight attended the beauty group’s first Transparency Summit earlier this month, which outlined its goals in this area for the years to come.

L’Oréal is adopting a ‘green sciences’ approach across Research and Innovation as the group works towards the goal of having 95% of its ingredients derived from renewable plant sources, abundant minerals or circular processes by 2030. By this same date, it aims for 100% of its formulas to also be “respectful of the aquatic environment”.

To achieve this, L’Oréal says it plans to leverage advances in agronomics, biotechnology, formulation science, Green Chemistry and modelling tools, and is also inking strategic partnerships with its raw material suppliers, start-ups and universities.

“Green sciences will allow us to cultivate natural ingredients in a sustainable way; respect for nature should be considered an engine to create renewable alternatives to petrochemical ingredients,” Nicolas Hieronimus, L’Oréal Deputy Chief Executive Officer, in charge of Divisions (and CEO of the group from this May) said during L’Oréal’s first transparency summit in early March. He added that currently, 34% of the group’s raw materials are natural or of natural origin, 59% are renewable and 80% “easily biodegradable”.

“Green science is changing the future of beauty,” agrees Barbara Lavernos, Chief Research, Innovation & Technology Officer. “We will revisit and reinvent our portfolio of raw materials and formulation; integrating the principle of circularity will enable us to penetrate new areas of innovation.”

Transparency is also a major focus. “Consumers want products that are good for them and good for the planet, and expect full transparency from brands and companies,” said Hieronimus. ”We want to explain what our products are made of, and how we define our formulas,” he stated, adding that safety is also a major consumer concern that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis.

In 2019, L’Oréal launched the Inside our Products platform, which answers consumer questions about its products’ composition and ingredients and is now available in 45 countries and eight languages. In the same vein, L’Oréal Paris has The Other Side program, while La Roche-Posay products feature QR codes that can be scanned to access product transparency information. Starting with its Garnier brand, L’Oréal will provide transparency on the environmental profile of its products, noted Hieronimus, enabling consumers to access information on products’ carbon and water footprint.

Packaging also has its role to play. While L’Oréal is working on reducing and lightweighting its packaging by using recycled plastics or other less environmentally impactful materials - one innovation being La Roche-Posay’s cardboard-based tube developed with Albéa - the group says that changes in formulation can also result in more virtuous packaging. The group points to solid shampoo formats as an example; Garnier’s solid shampoos come in recycled, FSC-certified cardboard packs and are billed as the brand's first shampoos to not generate plastic packaging waste. More initiatives are in the pipeline.

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