Creating a sustainable fragrance is about more than just the bottle sitting on the shelf or the packaging it came in – it’s about how the entire product came to be.
Is the perfume cruelty-free? Was it ethically made? Are the ingredients natural and sustainably sourced?
Responsible sourcing, such as where ingredients are grown, extracted and regenerated, is an increasingly important part of a fragrance company's sustainability strategy.
This is especially true given the rise of the US$3.84 billion global fine fragrance market, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.61% from 2023 to 2032, reaching US$6.03 billion.
More and more beauty brands are turning to organic and sustainable methods of production, accessing natural ingredients that are produced responsibly or tapping Green Science to produce ingredients sustainably –upcycled from waste, for example.
This commitment to responsible sourcing and production is nothing new to French beauty giant L’Oreal Group, whose brands include L'Oreal Paris, Lancome and Guerlain, among others.
With a portfolio of 37 international brands, 20 research centres, and more than 87,000 employees, including 4,000 scientists, the world’s leading beauty player has a long and deep commitment to sustainable sourcing.
L’Oreal – sustainable sourcing of raw materials
For a decade, L’Oreal Group has accelerated advances in sourcing and responsible production, rolling out its Product Environmental and Social Labelling Program across brands, and providing transparency to consumers on the ingredients and composition of its products.
Local supply is a Group priority with more than 80% of purchases for production purposes made among suppliers located within the respective geographic zone.
And as part of its sustainable development programme Sharing Beauty With All, unveiled a decade ago, the Group had adopted a sustainable supply policy for renewable ingredients.
L’Oreal has pledged to trace all raw materials of renewable origin, to apply sustainable, low-carbon agricultural practices, and to preserve biodiversity and forests.
And by 2030, has promised that 95% of all its ingredients will be sustainably sourced – that means bio-based, derived from abundant minerals or from circular processes.
This pledge forms part of the L’Oreal For the Future 2030 sustainability strategy unveiled in 2021, which delivers the company’s commitments on everything from formulas to packaging, processes to partnerships.
“As the world leader in fine fragrances, embracing sustainability throughout the whole fragrance value chain is not just a choice, it’s our conviction,” says Cyril Chapuy, President of L’Oréal Luxe.
“From ingredient sourcing to refill adoption, we are innovating at every step to reduce our impact and shift towards a more responsible fragrance model.”
The L'Oreal Luxe division has a portfolio composed of 23 brands of which 19 are global, including major brands, highly-aspirational and multi-expert, such as Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent and Giorgio Armani – and includes fine fragrances.
Revolutionising scent-making with Green Sciences
Green Science is one of the driving forces behind L'Oreal Group’s transformation towards meeting the challenges of transparency and respect for the environment, while also producing quality products.
With a team of more than 250 experts in green chemistry, biotechnology and green extraction, L’Oreal’s development entity Noveal innovates processes that reduce the Group’s environmental footprint.
Such high-tech processes means the Group can access active ingredients from plant parts that are not used in other industries and are upcycled using neglected plant products.
In a major Green Science step forward, L'Oreal Group is now taking responsible sourcing to new heights, with an industry-first partnership to revolutionise the art of fine fragrance creation.
Developed by Cosmo International Fragrances and exclusively available to L’Oreal, this new Green Science-based extraction process (‘field to fragrance') will involve using a patent-pending waterless, low-energy, slow extraction process to reveal the exact smell of an ingredient while preserving its integrity.
“Through this Green Sciences extraction process, we can experience the olfactive power of flowers in an authentic way, as if walking in a garden, field or forest,” says Barbara Lavernos, Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of Research, Innovation and Technology, L’Oréal.
The process is not only authentic, but also sustainable, as it limits environmental impact.
Using only air, the extraction technology harnesses the volatile fragrance molecules of flowers, fruits and other natural ingredients without the need or heating, cooling, or chemical solvents used in conventional scent extraction.
This means flowers retain their integrity, and at the end of the process, can be recycled and reused in a second extraction, helping reduce waste.
L’Oreal For the Future 2030 sustainability strategy
L’Oreal Group’s For the Future 2030 commitment is based on four principles: optimising packaging to accelerate the shift to a circular economy; more eco-friendly formulas; producing beauty respectful of the environment; investing in environmental projects through programmes that empower women.
Since 2005, the Group has reduced the CO2 emissions of its plants and distribution centres by 91% in absolute terms, exceeding its initial target of 65% by 2020, while production volume increased by 45% over the same period.
What’s more, 97% of L'Oreal Group's new or renovated products boasted an improved environmental and social profile.
The French beauty giant has committed to both 2025 and 2030 targets – we take a look at the targets and achievements to date.
- By 2025, all L’Oreal sites will have achieved carbon neutral status via energy efficiency and 100% renewable energy. By the end of 2022, the Group had 110 carbon-neutral sites marking 65% of all sites.
- By 2030, 100% of water used in L’Oreal Group’s industrial processes will be recycled and reused in a loop – with 13% of water currently being recycled.
- By 2025, 95% of ingredients in formula will be bio-based, derived from abundant minerals or from circular processes. L’Oreal is on track with 61% of ingredients sourced as such, as of the end of 2022.
- By 2030, 100% of the bio-based ingredients for formulas and packaging materials will be traceable and will come from sustainable sources; none of them will be linked to deforestation. L’Oreal is well ahead on this, having already reached 92% by the end of 2022.
- By 2025, 100% of plastic used in its packaging will be recycled or from bio-based sources with plans to reach 50% by 2025. L’Oreal is halfway to its 2025 goal with 26% of packaging now recycled. By 2025 too, 100% of plastic packaging will be refillable, reusable, recyclable or compostable.
- By 2030, 100% of the waste generated in L’Oreal sites will be recycled or reused, with 61% already being recycled or reused.
Th Group is also passionate about empowering its business ecosystem and contributing to solving the challenges of the world – with 2030 targets to help 100,000 people from disadvantaged communities gain access to employment and provide assistance to 1,230,000 women and girls within their communities.
Already, by 2023, the company had allocated €50 million to support the most vulnerable women via the L’Oreal Fund for Women.