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Beiersdorf: putting the 'care' into sustainability

By Michelle Yeomans , 27-Nov-2012
Last updated on 03-May-2013 at 10:12 GMT

For many cosmetic companies, implementing a sustainable strategy that applies to all areas of the business whilst also encouraging consumers to get involved along the way has been at the forefront of many ‘to do’ lists in recent years. Here, a Beiersdorf expert explains their strategy and why they 'care’ about going green.

According to the personal care giant’s VP of corporate sustainability, Inken Hollmann-Peters; “As resources get smaller and consumer demand gets bigger, strategies like our ‘we care’ plan needs to be addressing all areas right through from raw material sourcing to resource usage, production and processes, and packaging.”

The "We care" plan Hollmann-Peters refers to is an overarching theme of Beierdorf’s CSR strategy - a slogan said to represent the company's goal for product quality as well as for its' responsibility to people and the environment.

‘Making sustainability fun’

The sustainability expert notes that last year Beiersdorf seen group sales of €5.633 billion and has invested €163 million in its Research & Development departments to date, in an effort to keep things moving on the green track.

"The topic of sustainability is an ongoing one, in order to keep coming up with innovative ideas we need to make it fun for the likes of marketing departments to get them on board. And remember you don't need to be a trend setter, but rather have a licence to play."

In its commitment to the environment over the last 25 years, the global giant is said to have eliminated CFCs from its spray cans, was one of the first companies to introduce refill pouches, taken part in a worldwide ‘Responsible Care’ initiative, established a sustainability advisory board, and issued a renewed global sustainability strategy in 2009.

To continue being successful in an increasingly changing world, we need to take the initiative and embrace the challenges ahead of us as opportunities.”

Today, the expert reveals that nearly 100 per cent of Beiersdorf's packaging materials are already recyclable and that it develops additional savings ideas for packaging materials in co-operation with its customers and suppliers.

All our CSR activities are based on the principle of ‘helping people to help themselves’.”

Practice what you preach…

According to Hollmann-Peters, in order to get across to consumers that sustainability is key for a company, it is important to set an example by getting top management committed to the cause and some of Beiersdorf's executives in Europe are already said to be leading the way by driving more environmentally-friendly cars.

The company's goal to be more environmentally friendly like many others is on-going and it’s priority for now is said to be on engaging consumers into sustainability dialogues, implementing a product scorecard to assess environmental impact, setting up partnerships with selected customers, and developing roadmaps for reducing carbon emissions in all SC processes.

"Some of our commitments for 2020 is to generate 50 per cent of our sales from products with a significantly reduced environmental footprint, and to reduce our carbon footprint by 30 per cent per product sold," Hollmann-Peters concludes.  

The VP of corporate sustainability delivered a presentation on this matter at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit , in Paris last week.

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