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Environment

Biodiversity: measuring actions & raising consumer awareness

For the second annual “Bee University” in Paris last June 5, Guerlain focused on the issues and solutions regarding the protection of biodiversity, in particular of bees, the brand’s emblem. The round table, “Being an active company: these companies committed to biodiversity”, helped make an update on a number of good practices.

To talk about these projects, Laurent Boillot, CEO of Guerlain, and Sandrine Sommer, CSR & Sustainable Development Director, gathered Stéphane d’Halluin, Project Manager Sustainable Development and External Relations at Botanic, Karine Viel, Sustainable Development/CSR Director of Monoprix, and Cécile Joucan, Environmental Officer at LVMH.

The importance of measuring tools

All speakers wanted to emphasize the voluntary nature of their commitment, born from a specific need within their own companies. “For Guerlain, it is just obvious we should take care of biodiversity. Without bees, there are no flowers, and without flowers, there are no perfumes,” Sandrine Sommer highlighted.

As soon as he took office, Laurent Boillot implemented a business strategy based on four main aspects: climate, eco-design, biodiversity, and social and societal impacts. The brand uses measuring tools to assess the impact of its actions, like packaging reduction, by developing a refillable bottle or delivering products with a 100% electric truck aptly named “Le Bourdon” (“The Bumblebee”).

In terms of sustainable development, measuring and traceability tools tend to get more and more widely used at LVMH. As part of eco-design approaches, it helps validate the relevance of the materials chosen, like organic cotton, or check the origin of raw materials.

At Botanic, the fourth network of garden centres in France, this commitment is focused on traceability. To better control supplies, the company choses French suppliers whenever possible for their horticulture products. They got involved about ten years ago, following an NGO warning about the hazard of some pesticides in their range. From then on, thanks to the support of the company’s family structure, Botanic turned to naturalness, despite a significant loss of turnover at the beginning. Again, Botanic uses measuring tools to assess the impact of their products. The brand also holds the Plante Bleue certificate (horticulture).

Monoprix’s commitment to biodiversity mainly concerns food: organic foodstuffs represent about 9% of sales, thanks to key decisions like choice editing, i.e. stop distributing “dubious” products. Just like eggs from hens kept in battery cages, which Monoprix has no longer referenced since 2016. The suppliers involved in the Cultiv’acteurs programme or holding the Bee Friendly label are also rewarded.

Raising consumer awareness

As regards communication, Guerlain favours a didactic approach, by raising awareness of their environmental commitment among their consumers in store. “We explain why we choose such or such ingredient for our products and how we cultivate them, like honey from Ouessant, for example,” Sandrine Sommer explains.

Botanic adopted the same strategy. “When we reviewed our charter and range, we lost a few customers at first, because they did not like the fact that they could no longer find some of their usual products. So, we focused on our sales teams’ training to better explain our strategy to our consumers,” Stéphane d’Halluin recalls.

At Monoprix, we believe this issue is not really relevant, because consumers are increasingly more concerned about what ends up in their dishes. Instead, we aim to raise consumer awareness of the technical aspect of production.

Today, it is essential to strengthen bonds between scientific and social expertise, as well as companies’ expertise, so as to preserve our biodiversity – just like it is fundamental to officially communicate on that issue. Bees are a strong symbol, because they are sort of our ecosystem’s umbrella. If we protect them, we also protect ourselves.

Sophie Normand

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