L’Oréal says growth and sustainable development are compatible – no need to greenwash

By Andrew MCDOUGALL contact

- Last updated on GMT

L’Oréal says growth and sustainable development are compatible – no need to greenwash
Carbon emissions and sustainable development are in the spotlight at the moment with the COP21 climate change summit happening in Paris and L’Oréal, who is presenting in its home city, says that there is no reason the company cannot make market gains and be sustainable.

Speaking at COP21, Alexandra Palt, Director of Sustainable Development and CSR at L’Oréal, who also welcomed French President Francois Hollande to the event, says that for the Paris-headquartered firm growth and sustainable development are compatible.

"Economic growth can be linked to the business and sustainable development, it is possible to be efficient while leading an ambitious sustainable development policy,"​ she says.

Also speaking at the event, as part of the LaPosteLive panel discussion, company CEO Jean-Paul Agon adds: “the beauty industry has low carbon emissions... Renewable energy is an obligation and an obvious choice for companies.”

As part of the discussion the L’Oréal boss also mentioned that the company is working on ensuring every product it makes is green, an example being that it is currently working on shampoos that require less water to rinse.

Go green – don’t greenwash

In a video interview to Bloomberg also at the event, Agon said that consumers want to buy green products, but they do not want to do so at a more expensive price, which presents a challenge for the company, leading to the commitment that every product it makes is green.

“But it’s not going to be an advertising claim or greenwashing; they will all be green. We will change everything we do to reduce our carbon emissions and the consumers will not have to pay any more for that,”​ he explains.

Referring back to the question of market gains and sustainable development, Agon admits that it is a challenge, particularly as L’Oréal posted a lacklustre performance in the last quarter​, but it is not that tough, and the company are still making gains.

“We are growing in every region and every division, and globally we are gaining market share. It’s not as easy as maybe a few years ago when some markets were growing double digit, but we are still gaining,”​ he says.

“There is no contradiction​ [between sustainable practices and financial gain]. You can really do both. You can gain market share, launch products, grow your business increase your profit and do what it takes for sustainability. In our industry it doesn’t cost that much.”

COP21

The COP21 Paris Climate Summit, which has taken place in Paris since November 30 and ends today, aims to achieve a universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world, to be signed in 2015, and implemented by 2020.

The key expected result according to the organizing committee is to limit the global warming to below 2°C.

Researchers in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2009 have agreed that this is necessary to avoid serious climate catastrophes, and that such a result in turn requires greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by between 40-70% by 2050 compared with 2010, and reaching a zero level in 2100.

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