How to measure and improve the environmental impact of formulas

By the end of 2020, 100% of L’Oréal’s products will have an improved environmental or social profile, due in particular to improvements in the environmental profile of product formulas.


04/2016 • Updated 02/04/2019

Improving the biodegradability of product formulas

L’Oréal has conducted lifecycle assessments to measure the environmental impacts of its products for many years. It has identified that water, and in particular the water discharged when the consumer uses the product, is among its principal impacts on the environment.

L’Oréal’s teams therefore focus on improving the environmental profile of product formulas in two ways:

  • improving the biodegradability of formulas, i.e. their ability to be broken down by natural micro-organisms;
  • reducing their water footprint, which represents the product’s impact on the aquatic environment.

As a result, 79% of new or renovated products launched in 2018 have an improved environmental or social profile, and 48% thanks to a new formula that reduces its environmental footprint.

Among the new products launched in 2018, some have levels of biodegradability exceeding 98% in L’Oréal’s different brands

An eco-design tool for formulas

L’Oréal has categorised all the products it manufactures (shampoos, hair care, styling, hair colours, shower gels, skin care, deodorants, sun care, make-up, perfumes, etc.) according to the benefits they offer to consumers. After defining 143 product categories and screening more than 40,000 formulas, the Group created an eco-design tool to improve the environmental profile of its formulas, while maintaining the same benefits for the consumer. The tool has been integrated within SPOT, the Group’s product evaluation tool (see page 20), and is used by all its product formulation teams.

Among the new products launched in 2017, products across the Group’s diverse brands feature formulas with levels of biodegradability exceeding 98%. These include, for example, Garnier’s Color Herbalia smoothing treatment, Vichy’s Dercos Nutrients Nutri Protein Mask, Matrix’ Biolage R.A.W. Rebalance Conditioner and Shu Uemura’s Instant make-up prep mask.

Overall, L’Oréal increased the average biodegradability rate of its shampoos sold in 2017 to 91%, and its shower gels to 89% (compared to 87% in 2016).

Recognised results

These product formula footprint improvements, combined with the reduction in water consumption achieved at production level, enabled L’Oréal to obtain CDP’s “A” score for corporate performance on sustainable water management in 2018, the highest level possible, for the third year running.