L’Oreal underlines plans for future sustainable development

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sustainable development Carbon footprint Sustainability Unilever

L’Oreal has been acknowledged for its efforts on sustainable development several times in the past year and its recently published annual report stresses how this area will continue to be a core focus for the business.

L’Oreal’s ambitions on the sustainability front are big, and new targets have been set during the course of 2009 that focus on reducing the company’s manufacturing carbon footprint.

As part of its aim to be one of the most ‘exemplary companies of the 21st century’, the company says it wants to reduce its carbon footprint and its use of natural resources through greater eco-efficiency and lowered environmental impact.

Waste and greenhouse emissions to be lowered by half

In line with this, the company has laid down the goals of reducing greenhouse emissions, waste generated by finished products and water consumption per finished product by 50 percent over the next five years.

As part of its sustainability measures, the company has also outlined its commitment to ethics, a factor that is stressed by the company’s Code of Business Ethics – a guideline for employees on ethics – together with a company-wide Ethics Day, which is held annually.

To help enforce this code of practice, the company has now appointed a team of 18 employees in key business areas throughout the group as ‘ethics correspondents’.

Sustainability initiatives and achievements

In the course of the past year L’Oreal has undertaken a number of significant initiatives as part of its sustainability aims and has also been acknowledged on a number of occasions for its achievements in the area.

Earlier this year L’Oreal announced its membership of the Sustainability Consortium, an independent organisation that unites academics, governments, NGO’s and businesses focused on developing an index to measure the sustainability of consumer products through the creation of a global database of lifecycle information.

Back in February The Global Canopy Foundation commended L’Oreal as a ‘best performer’ in its 2009 Forest Footprint Disclosure review, being heralded as the most progressive company in its category.

The company was also named for the third year running as one of top 100 most sustainable companies in the world by Corporate Knights magazine, as well as being ranked one of the top ten companies for the responsible use of palm oil by the WWF.

L’Oreal will be publishing its next annual Sustainable Development Report in June.

Unilever also stresses sustainability

Recently, L’Oreal’s major rival in the personal care field, Unilever, announced plans to double the size of its business while simultaneously reducing the company’s environmental impact.

At a recent sustainability conference held in London at the beginning of March, Unilever CEO Paul Polman said that the key to Unilever achieving its objectives would be persuading consumers to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle through the product purchases they make.

However, industry experts were quick to note that, in contrast to Unilever’s vision for the future, L’Oreal announced at around the same time a three-pronged strategy to increase its consumer base by one billion, which gave no specific mention to environmental concerns or sustainability.

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