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L’Oreal Cuts Water Per Product, Carbon, Waste; VOCs Up

L’Oreal made improvements on almost all of its environmental measures in 2010, including water consumption, carbon emissions, SO2 emissions and waste output, according to its 2010 Sustainable Development Report.

The company reduced water consumption per finished product by more than six percent last year, a total of 16.5 percent since 2006, while overall water consumption in its factories and distribution centers rose by just over four percent.

L’Oreal has a target to reduce water use per finished product by another 10 percent in 2011, compared to 2010 levels, the report said. In 2010, the company became a Founding Responder to the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) water reporting initiative.

The biggest use of water in L’Oréal factories is for cleaning production equipment and packaging, representing about 44 percent of all water consumption at its industrial sites. To meet its water targets, the company says that it is aiming to reduce the amount of water used for cleaning without affecting quality.

“This is a major challenge, because cleaning is a complex process that takes place in different ways, depending on the equipment used and the formulas involved,” the report said.

One new method, called OptiCIP, allows L’Oreal to take into account site specifics such as equipment and type of product, then apply the most efficient cleaning processes for the particular factory. In 2010, several of its factories ran pilot projects with initial findings showing significant water savings of 50 percent or more on certain types of equipment. Test facilities included Warsaw, Poland; Solon and Florence in the U.S. and Vichy, France.

The company is now drawing up implementation plans, with the aim of standardising the OptiCIP method by 2015.

In 2010, the company reduced chemical oxygen demand (COD) of wastewaster before treatment by four percent, which corresponds to 17.5kg COD per ton of bulk produced.

Last year L’Oreal achieved an absolute Scope 1 and 2 carbon reduction of 8.7 percent over 2009 levels, for a total 27.8 percent cut to carbon since 2005. In 2011, it aims to reduce its CO2 emissions from industrial sites by 10 percent in absolute terms, compared to 2010. And in 2015, the company is targeting a 50 percent reduction from a 2005 baseline.

In 2010 the company’s total energy use increased by 1 percent compared to 2009 but decreased by 1.2 percent compared to 2006.

Last year total SO2 emissions decreased by 83.3 percent, and SO2 emissions per finished product decreased by 85 percent. These reductions have resulted from energy efficiency measures and from converting sites from fuel oil to natural gas wherever possible, the company says.

In 2010 the company reduced waste by 7.4 percent compared with 2009 by re-using pallets, using more eco-efficient wrapping and reducing obsolete products, the report said. For 2015, L’Oreal is targeting a 50 percent reduction in waste (grams per finished product) compared to 2005.

And L’Oreal brand Garnier has committed to reduce the weight of its packaging by 15 percent by 2012. As of 2010, Garnier has achieved a reduction of 8 percent compared to 2008. Last year the Garnier, Vichy and Biotherm brands launched a jar that contains 40 percent post-consumer recycled glass.

Also last year, L’Oreal Paris redesigned its Pearl make-up display cabinet (see diagram, above) to reduce metal use by 50 percent and to employ low-energy lamps, cutting the number of light bulbs used in half. These changes have cut the display’s carbon footprint by 46 percent, reduced the cost per unit by 20 percent, and reduced in-store energy consumption by 50 percent, the report said.

But in 2010 emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) rose by 8.5 percent. The company’s VOC emissions arise mainly from raw materials, the filling of aerosol products, evaporation from mixing products, wastewater treatment processes, and from inkjet inks used in printing. It says it is pursuing a range of initiatives to reduce VOCs.

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