“Achieving carbon neutrality for all of our operations facilities furthers our commitment to being a sustainability leader in the United States,” says Frédéric Rozé, president and CEO of L'Oréal USA, in a media release about the company’s new initiative.
“We have seen that a dedication to sustainability fosters innovation, inspires creativity and builds a strong team spirit. This new milestone can be credited to our passionate teams and their vision in finding a new renewable energy approach that benefits one of our local communities while being a long-term, financially viable solution,” adds Rozé.
Renewable natural gas
Natural gas (methane) from biomass rather than from fossil matter is known as renewable natural gas. Biomass is most commonly landfill, trash that has been covered over with dirt, soil, grass, etc. as a means of disposal.
L'Oréal’s new energy-use objective is “to achieve carbon neutrality in 2019 for all 21 of its US manufacturing and distribution facilities with a financially sustainable approach that could potentially serve as a model to support new renewable natural gas (RNG) projects in the future,” according to the release.
“In order to reach this milestone, L'Oréal USA is adding to its diversified energy portfolio with RNG purchased from a new processing facility in Kentucky.”
Sustainability pilot project
L'Oréal is not the first cosmetics and personal care industry player to take advantage of energy from renewable natural gas (RNG), a few ingredient makers and other companies along the supply chain have started using it too.
But it’s significant for such a large beauty manufacturer to commit to RPG. "This accomplishment would not have been possible without our team's determination to tackle the carbon emissions from our own heating systems, a difficult challenge shared across industries," says Jay Harf, vice president of environment, health, safety and sustainability for L'Oréal Operations Americas. "We are proud to have found a local solution and approach with the potential to be replicated at landfills across the country."
L'Oréal has stuck a deal with the Big Run Landfill in Ashland, Kentucky—a facility just 135 miles from the company’s plant in Florence, Kentucky—to buy 40% of that landfill’s RPG. Construction is underway this month on a new gas processing facility being built to meet the demand.
(Initially, to get the whole initiative up and running, L'Oréal will sell “environmental attributes into the transportation fuels market” to meet the EPA standard for carbon neutrality. But after about five years, the company will use the environmental attributes at its own facilities and thereby be genuinely carbon neutral.)
The company sees an opportunity for industry more broadly to convert landfill gas to RPG and hopes to be a energy-use role model in this way.
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.