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November 1, 2015

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L’Oréal eyes ‘carbon balanced’ with China plant

FRENCH cosmetics giant L’Oréal has reached a milestone in China as one of its plants in the country became the first factory reaching carbon footprint neutrality in Asia Pacific as L’Oréal strives to build a “carbon balanced” company by 2020.

The plant, which was required from former Chinese skincare brand Mininurse in Yichang, Hubei Province, started to use 100 percent hydroelectricity from the nearby Gezhouba hydro-plant from September, and now generates zero carbon emission on both direct and indirect discharge, the company said.

Being L’Oréal’s largest make-up production center in Asia Pacific, Yichang plant covers an area of 237,067 square meters with the capability to manufacture more than 210 million units annually. It also takes charge of all production of Maybelline, Yue-Sai and L’Oréal Paris brands to be consumed in China’s mainland.

“For Yichang to become carbon neutral demonstrates our continued confidence in the long-term prospects for China and the Asian market, as well as our strong commitment to sustainable development,” said Alexis Perakis-Valat, executive vice president of L’Oréal Asia Pacific and chief executive officer of L’Oréal China.

This project is part of the strategic agreement between the Yichang government and L’Oréal regarding the use of clean and renewable energy, and was announced at a ceremony in Toulouse witnessed by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
Total investment led by the local government reached 15 million yuan (US$2.4 million) over the project, including the construction of direct links between the hydroelectricity generator and the plant as well as a specialized hydroelectric substation.

According to Wang Bin, EHS director of engineering and property at L’Oréal China, the Yichang plant has been innovated to improve its energy efficiency and to subsequently reduce its carbon footprint for years.

“The plant is one of L’Oréal’s best performers with regard to sustainability,
having reduced carbon emissions by 60 percent from 2005. While water consumption was reduced by 86 percent and transportable waste by 73 percent per unit during the same period,” Wang said. The plant obtained the LEED Gold environmental certification
in 2014.

“It is our firm belief that eco-friendly, responsible growth is the key to becoming the market leader within China’s new economic development model, which demands steady, sustainable
growth,” said Perakis-Valat. “We have made huge progress in terms of sustained growth, only because we keep that right at the core of all our operations.”

L’Oréal’s another major factory in China in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, is also taking endeavors to reach that core, with 70 to 80 percent of its carbon emissions cut through use of wind power for the past 2014. The site is also L’Oréal’s second factory among its 43 factories in the world to use reclaimed water, allowing about 50 to 70 percent reduction in waste water.

The company’s efforts also extended to its product range, said Perakis-Valat. Its latest shampoo, for instance, is silicone- and oil-free, meaning it is 90.6 percent biodegradable. It was developed within Suzhou’s “green raw-material development department”, which focuses on new and environmentally friendly materials.

“We’d love to identify our products made in Yichang plant and Suzhou plant as green cosmetics to our sales terminals, and labeled so to our consumers once given the identification approval,” Perakis-Valat said, indicating that L’Oréal is ahead of the curve in terms of zero carbon emission products of the whole consumer industry.

L’Oréal said last month that it aims to become a “carbon balanced” company by 2020, reinforcing its commitment to fighting global climate change. The group aims to generate carbon gains equivalent to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions linked to its activities.

Besides its “green” efforts in China, the group is heading toward a low carbon sourcing model through several projects worldwide: improving energy efficiency in the supply chains, promoting productive low-carbon agriculture practices and forest management projects.

Practices include using less wood to produce shea butter in North Africa and combining the agriculture land of two raw material plants to avoid the extension of farmland in Indonesia.

To ensure the program is globally effective, L’Oréal will also put together an expert committee of international carbon specialists to monitor the ad hoc scientific methodology used and evaluate the results annually.

Jean-Paul Agon, chairman and CEO of L’Oréal said: “This renewed commitment
shows L’Oréal’s capacity to leverage its innovation power in order to address a major environmental challenge alongside its suppliers and communities. Companies must play a leading role in the quest for solutions to the challenge of our time.”


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