04/2016 • Updated 02/04/2019
L’Oréal has committed to reduce its water consumption by 60% per finished product by 2020, compared to 2005. To achieve this goal, the Group is undertaking multiple actions: optimising consumption and developing projects to treat, recycle and reuse water at its production sites.
A recognised approach to sustainable water management
L’Oréal prioritises responsible water use within its manufacturing operations by minimising its water requirements and taking into account the local availability of this vital resource. Overall, these combined operational initiatives allowed the Group to lower the water consumption (in litres per finished product) of its plants and distribution centres by 48% between 2005 and 2017. This represents a reduction of 28% of the Group’s consumption in absolute terms, while production increased by 38% during the same period.
This performance, combined with its efforts to improve the water footprint of products formulas, saw L’Oréal honoured for the second year running with an “A” score in CDP’s 2017 ranking of corporate performance on sustainable water management, the highest possible level.
Optimising water consumption
The Group uses the Waterscan tool in all its plants to categorise the diverse types of water use (cleaning, cooling, lavatories, etc.) and identify how much water is consumed within each category. The best level of performance achieved for a particular type of water use is established as a standard for all the Group’s plants.
Treating industrial water on site
The Group continues to install water treatment stations on its manufacturing sites. The water treatment station at L’Oréal’s plant in Nairobi, Kenya, which is situated near a nature reserve, opened in 2017, and represents a key contribution to improving the site’s environmental footprint.
Promoting water reuse and recycling on site: towards dry factories?
L’Oréal aims at reusing industrial water at every possible opportunity, and then re-treating the wastewater leaving the water treatment system, with the help of diverse technologies (including ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, etc.), in order to extract very high-quality water. This water is then reused for cleaning production tools or for cooling processes. By the end of 2017, 11 of the Group’s plants had installations of this kind in place, becoming pioneers in the beauty industry: in Karlsruhe (Germany), Libramont (Belgium), Montreal (Canada), Suzhou (China), Burgos (Spain), Aulnay and Rambouillet (France), Pune (India), Settimo (Italy), Istanbul (Turkey), Vorsino (Russia) and Migdal (Israel). Globally, L’Oréal now aims to develop “dry factories”.
Since 2013, L’Oréal has encouraged its packaging and raw materials suppliers to participate in CDP’s Water Disclosure Project, a programme whose mission is to engage companies in publishing their water management strategy and performance annually. In 2018, 91 of the Group’s suppliers agreed to participate in the programme.