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L’Oréal Expands 'Sharing Beauty with All' Sustainability Pledge to Include Zero Deforestation

A plantation worker loads freshly cut palm bundles onto a truck. | Image credit: RSPO

To ensure that none of its products are linked to deforestation, L’Oréal has been implementing action plans with regards to the sustainable sourcing of palm oil, soya oil and wood fiber-based products since 2007. This week, as part of its ambitious "Sharing Beauty with All" sustainability commitment, the cosmetics giant has committed to sourcing 100 percent renewable raw materials from sustainable sources by 2020 and confirms its ambition to achieve zero deforestation through the sourcing of three key ingredients: Wood fiber-based products, palm oil and soya oil.

Wood fiber and paper

In 2007, L’Oréal mandated that all of its suppliers of wood fiber-based products for packaging applications only use wood fibers from forests that are either FSC- or PEFC- (and other certifications recognized by PEFC) certified, ensuring appropriate traceability and sourcing from forests that are managed sustainably. In 2012, L’Oréal reported achieving 97 percent certified board for packaging and extended this policy to point of sale (POS). The company says the goal is to have 100 percent certified board and paper for packaging and POS by 2020.

Soya oil

L’Oréal uses low volumes of soya oil as an emollient in its skincare products. With regard to soy procurement, the company says it does not use outside certification but implements its own internal Community Fair Trade program and purchases from small organic soy oil producers in Capanema, Brazil. 

From second semester 2013, L’Oréal says 100 percent of its soybean oil procurements were certified as sustainable — produced by organic farming not contributing to deforestation and obtained from fair trade sources. The goal is now to work actively with suppliers to improve traceability to point of origin, to address sustainability of soy-based derivatives so that 100 percent are sustainably sourced by 2020.

Palm oil

Palm oil, a nearly ubiquitous ingredient in everything from food to personal care products, continues to gain notoriety as the traditionally destructive nature of the industry comes to light and a growing wave of efforts by NGOs and major companies try to turn it around. L’Oréal uses palm oil as an emollient in its skincare & haircare products, as well as palm oil derivatives, which are chemically processed compounds that provide the detergent and foaming qualities of shampoos and whose supply channels are much more complex.

At the end of 2012, 100 percent of L’Oréal’s palm oil purchases were made according to Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standard and procedures, the aim of which is to guarantee the preservation of forest integrity and biodiversity. Since 2010, direct purchases of palm oil have been based on total traceability certified by RSPO SG (Segregated Model). Since 2012, palm oil derivatives have also been certified as sustainable by the RSPO, the Book & Claim model having been considered as a workable interim solution while waiting for a critical mass of certified materials to become accessible on the market.

Following recent commitments by companies such as Starbucks, Hershey and Unilever — one of the world’s largest purchasers of palm oil, which in November announced that all of its palm oil will be traceable to known sources by the end of 2014 — L’Oréal says that by 2015, 100 percent of the palm oil and major palm derivatives in its supply chain will be fully traceable and certified. And by 2020 at the latest, 100 percent of its palm supply will be free from deforestation.

Next steps

While reiterating its support to RSPO as one of the key standards that will support its goal to achieve zero deforestation by 2020, L’Oréal is also considering that:

  • palm-related deforestation is not slowing; companies urgently have to strengthen the involvement of their supply chain into a more sustainable and traceable palm sourcing
  • complexity of derivatives supply chains is a constraint towards indirect access to physically sustainable sources of palm.

Therefore the company has committed to working with its suppliers on more ambitious solutions to achieve its zero-deforestation ambition while taking into account local communities. L’Oréal says it will:

  • require from its suppliers that all materials are traceable back to each plantation, field or mill.
  • promote and support the most innovative and progressive suppliers, especially those who will overpass the challenges associated with the complexity of palm derivatives supply chains.
  • work with suppliers whose responsible practices can guarantee:
    • Full compliance with the laws in the country where they operate, and especially anticorruption legislations and land tenure rights.
    • A comprehensive and formal free prior and informed consent from indigenous people and local communities potentially impacted by new plantations development:
      • with a specific focus on respect for workers rights as defined by ILO
      • and bringing a special attention to palm oil smallholders by engaging partnerships with communities aiming at improving environmental, social and economic outcomes of their palm plantations
  • The conservation and restoration of High Conservation Value and High Carbon stocks Areas when expanding palm plantations
  • The renouncement to peat clearance for new plantations and the adoption of a responsible maintenance system of peatlands in existing plantation.

In the meantime, L’Oréal says it will continue to actively support the RSPO certification process with the objective of progressively accessing physically segregated sustainable palm derivatives (SG or MB model).

L’Oréal has committed to providing publicly available information annually about its progress on all of these fronts.


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