L’Oreal to limit wastewater as multinationals clean up their acts

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

L’Oreal to limit wastewater as multinationals clean up their acts

Related tags Sustainability Globalization Ecological footprint

Consumer goods multinational L’Oreal has announced a partnership with water treatment service provider, Veolia, which will tackle the problem of wastewater discharged from the beauty giant’s factories in Indonesia.

L’Oreal’s move, which involves the installation of an on-site treatment plant, comes as part of its pledge towards increased sustainability by the year 2020; a commitment which mirrors that of fellow consumer goods giant Unilever.

The announcement also participates in L’Oreal’s renewed focus on Asia, which participates in progress towards its target of attracting a further 1 billion customers via ‘universalization’, an aim which was reflected in the recent brand manifesto change​, from ‘because you’re worth it’​ to ‘beauty for all’​.

2020 pledges

Coming three years after Unilever made its comparable sustainability pledge in 2010, L’Oreal’s commitment last year to a similar plan confirmed the ongoing rise in the profitability of sustainable practices for beauty brands.

The two consumer goods giants boast rivaling beauty and personal care brands, and this latest move suggests L’Oreal is now mobilising to catch up with Unilever, which has completed a string of sustainability-focused moves recently, including the industry’s ‘first’ green bond​.


Increased efficiency not only saves money - it also taps into consumer focus on environmental responsibility.

The Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) has noted that beauty consumers are keen to see evidence of sustainability responsibility, with over 80% of consumer respondents to their ‘biodiversity barometer’ indicating that they would like to receive more information on how companies source ingredients.

Improving a company’s sustainability profile is an increasingly win-win move for cosmetics brands; it’s no surprise then brands are increasingly keen to publicize their moves towards a more sustainable footprint.

Attainable sustainability?

L’Oreal has stated that it hopes that by 2020, none of its products will be ‘linked to deforestation’, and has committed to sourcing 100% of its raw renewable materials from sustainable sources by this deadline.

As part of this sustainability pledge, L’Oreal has committed to reduce 60% of its water footprint by 2020, including better management of wastewater discharged from its 43 factories globally; the latest move in Indonesia will contribute towards this.

With the rise internationally of consumer demand for environmentally and socially responsible businesses, responding to this call seems likely to further progress for L’Oreal towards its goal of ‘universalization’, which it describes as “globalization, but with clear respect for differences”.

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