A New Tool To Assess The Environmental And Social Impact Of Our Products

SPOT : a unique evaluation tool

The production, sale and use of a cosmetic product generates an environmental impact throughout its life cycle and affects also a number of stakeholders throughout the value chain: communities, suppliers, employees and consumers.

To measure these impacts, improve the footprint of all products and share this information with consumers in a transparent manner, L’Oréal’s Sustainability, Packaging and Research teams worked, from 2014 to 2016, to develop an innovative tool that assesses the social and environmental performance of products. This tool is the first in the industry to take into account social criteria, in addition to environmental criteria. In 2017, the Group implemented the tool, known as the Sustainable Product Optimisation Tool (SPOT), across all its brands.

A means of improving products’ social and environmental profile

In 2017, all the teams working on product design were trained on SPOT. The tool is now completely integrated in the design and launch process for new products and allows to:

  • simulate diverse design options (ingredients, packaging, sourcing, etc.) in order to assess their impact on the environment and society, and ultimately identify potential avenues for improvement;
  • quantify the impact reduction across every aspect of the product and follow progress on four areas of improvement: packaging, the footprint of the formula, the proportion of renewable ingredients sourced sustainably or derived from green chemistry, and the social benefit of the product.

100% of the products created or renovated in 2019, representing more than 2,180 products were assessed using SPOT.

In April 2018, SPOT was honored by the 2018 World Changing Ideas Awards. This annual award program organized by the US magazine Fast Company focuses on social good and fosters initiatives that could contribute to more sustainable lifestyles.

The next stage: informing consumers

L’Oréal’s teams are now working to make SPOT product assessments accessible, through a social and environmental display system that is relevant for consumers and in line with European recommendations on the subject. Some of the Group’s brands will start adopting this display mechanism from 2020.

A robust methodology, co-created with experts

To create the tool, L’Oréal convened a panel of 12 international experts, who contributed to developing the methodology – in line with European Product Environmental Footprint standards) – in order to ensure that the final methodology would lead to a relevant and robust assessment of impacts.

For the social element, L’Oréal worked with a panel of nine renowned experts in social life cycle analysis to establish the first methodology to calculate the social impact of cosmetics. SPOT therefore makes it possible to measure, in addition to their environmental impact, the potential social impact that the Group’s products may have on its stakeholders (our suppliers, L’Oréal’s employees and the communities with which we interact).

As for the environmental side, the SPOT tool integrates lifecycle analysis methodologies as well as the concept of “planetary boundaries” developed by Professor Johan Rockström’s team at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. These were used within SPOT to consider the diverse environmental impacts of a product in terms of the environmental challenges facing the world.

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