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L'Oréal unveils 2030 sustainability strategy with environmental labeling

 L'Oréal office in Milan, Italy
DELBO ANDREA

L'Oréal unveiled Thursday a suite of new environmental targets for 2030 that it claims will allow it to keep its operations within "planetary boundaries."

In a new sustainability strategy published last week, the cosmetics giant announced it intends to gradually roll out environmental and social impact labeling on its products by the end of the decade, while also ensuring all its packaging is sourced from recycled or bio-based materials in the same timeframe.

It also pledged to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its finished products by half by 2030 compared to 2016 levels, and confirmed it intends to achieve "carbon neutrality" across its sites by 2025 through building energy efficiency upgrades and replacing fossil fuel energy systems with renewables.

The challenges the planet is facing are unprecedented, and it is essential to accelerate our efforts to preserve a safe operating space for humanity.

In addition, the company pledged to mitigate its impact on natural habitats by "holding flat" the total land occupancy required for ingredients sourcing throughout the decade to come.

"The challenges the planet is facing are unprecedented, and it is essential to accelerate our efforts to preserve a safe operating space for humanity," said Jean-Paul Agon, chairman and chief executive of L'Oréal. "We do so in our own business operations and in our contribution to the society at large. We know that the biggest challenges remain to come and L'Oréal will stay faithful to its ambition: operate within the limits of the planet."

Planetary boundaries are nine environmental "red lines" that researchers have warned will compromise life on Earth if crossed. The boundaries range from climate change and biodiversity to ocean acidification and freshwater use; three limits already have been passed, according to scientists.

L'Oréal has been collaborating on sustainability research with the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the Swedish research institute that founded the concept of planetary boundaries, and last week confirmed that the nine limits formed the basis of its sustainability targets.

In order to help consumers make more informed decisions about their purchases, L'Oréal has said it gradually will introduce environmental and social impact labeling across its product range, with all "rinse-off products" labeled by 2022.

The labeling, which will be certified by an independent auditor, will score products on their environmental impact from A to E, with an A product considered "best in class."

Over the past decade, we have profoundly transformed our company, putting sustainability at the very core of our business model.

L'Oreal's plan to introduce green labelling to its product line comes the same month that consumer goods firm Unilever pledged to communicate the carbon footprint of all its products and technology company Logitech confirmed plans to roll out carbon labelling across its entire product range, starting later this year.

Alexandra Palt, L'Oréal chief corporate responsibility officer, said the company had a responsibility to build a more inclusive and sustainable society.

"Over the past decade, we have profoundly transformed our company, putting sustainability at the very core of our business model," she said. "With our new commitments, we are entering a new phase of acceleration of that transformation: going beyond our direct environmental impact, helping consumers to make more sustainable choices, as well as generating positive social and environmental contribution."

The commitments also build on the French beauty company's recent pledge to spend $112 million on environmental causes, split between projects that advance the circular economy and projects that restore ecosystems, over the next decade.

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