L’Oreal's 100% carbon neutral production site unveiled

By Katie Nichol

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Carbon dioxide

Cosmetics giant L’Oreal has unveiled its first 100% carbon-neutral production site in Libramont, Belgium, the result of a three-year collaboration with Belgian-based energy players Eneco and Bio Energie.

Claimed to be the first European industrial plant based on a sustainable energy island, the plant utilizes state-of-the-art technology that allows it to be, in principle, independent of the national electricity and gas grids.

An industrial biogas plant was built close to the L’Oreal site to convert natural materials into the biogas that then generates the heat and electricity required by the factory.

Biomass, from local farmers and the agro alimentary industry, is collected in a hermetically sealed tank, which is then converted into methane through fermentation. The resulting biogas is then transported to the factory through an underground pipeline.

The biogas bought by L’Oreal is used in three cogeneration engines that generate both green electricity and heat for the site.

The biogas plant generates more electricity than the Libramont site requires and the surplus power, which is enough to meet the needs of about 4,000 households, is then injected into the public grid.

Valerie Pierrut, communications manager for L’Oreal Libramont, explained to ComesticsDesign that the heat generated by the biogas plant supplies 80% of the site’s requirements, with the remaining 20% being supplied by natural gas.

She added that although the biogas plant generates a constant heat supply, the heating requirements of L’Oreal Libramont changes depending on the time of year; during the summer months those requirements are met by the biogas plant, but during winter, there is a small deficit.

It is expected that the excess electricity generated will offset the CO2 emissions produced by the natural gas consumption, thus making the plant carbon-neutral.

L’Oreal aims to cut its worldwide CO2 emissions by over 50% by 2015, and the completion of the project at the Libramont plant is an important step towards achieving that goal.

The company says that the annual reduction in CO2 emissions at Libramont is 31,940 tons, the equivalent to the yearly CO2 emissions generated by 20,000 passenger cars, (based on an average mileage of 15,000km).

L’Oreal hopes to implement similar technology in its French production plants to continue its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, and a study to this effect is currently underway.

L’Oreal Libramont, a branch of the L’Oreal Group, employs around 400 people and produces hair products and colour kits.

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