Basic trends

Yvette James, Director of Responsible Development for the Clarins...

Yvette James, Director of Responsible Development for the Clarins Group

The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the transition to more sustainable modes of production remain important strategic issues. Certainly, the recent crisis has slowed down in this area as in others, the size of investments. But the basic trends of the market appear clearly in green.

As for the regulatory framework, all the actors are anticipating a strengthening of the "environmental constraint". In France, the Article 75 of the Act of July 10, 2010 [1], requires all companies employing over 500 people to make an assessment of their greenhouse gas emissions before December 31, 2012. The French Agency for Environment and Energy Management (ADEME) has developed a method of accounting emissions, known as Bilan Carbone® (carbon balance), which can be used by companies or consultants.

A result, giant companies in consumer goods (Procter & Gamble, Unilever) and in cosmetics (L’Oréal) are communicating on ambitious development programs. "For a company, it’s also a development opportunity, another growth path," emphasized Yvette James, Director of Responsible Development for the Clarins Group.

Decisive moments come after

In this context, the carbon balance of Greenhouse Gas Emissions appears merely as a first step. But to review one’s emissions is only the prelude to the implementation of a reduction policy. "This is often where things go wrong," explained Thomas Moreau, Associate Director of the consulting firm Austral, specialized in logistics. Before forty professionals invited on January 20 in Paris by the BeautyFULL Club, he detailed the various pitfalls to avoid, including the managerial control of corrective measures.

"To undertake a carbon balance is not very complicated, as such. But companies often underestimate the scope and magnitude of its impact on their organization and their processes," stressed Moreau. A small project with a modest budget, can therefore have important consequences on the company’s business.

"It would be a big mistake for the senior management of the company to ignore the carbon balance. Indeed, once it has been undertaken, it’s only a very small part of the road that has been gone through. Decisions on measures to be adopted to reduce emissions will be the responsibility of the top management," he added.

An opinion shared by Yvette James: "To be successful in a company’s sustainable development process, you must know the company perfectly well, including departments and positions that feel less concerned, such as marketing."

What scope should be considered?

The first challenge is to define the scope that will be used to calculate emissions. "Very often companies are surprised by some emission sources (the use of products or services, consumers trips, ...) and only want to consider the emissions that are directly under their control (energy, travels,…). This is the first remark we hear during the carbon balance. However, it is necessary to retain the broadest scope possible, including all sources on which the company has an influence, albeit limited," explained Moreau.

But in practice, the selected indicators seem to vary in significant proportions from one company to another, making comparisons difficult. "In our case, depending on whether or not delivery to outlets is included, not to mention transporting the product to the consumer, results will be very different, and items such as logistics or transport will be more or less important," confirmed Philippe Brugière, Vice President in charge of the Packaging Development for L’Occitane.

This debate, however, should not conceal the main function of the carbon balance, which is to allow the taking of corrective measures in order to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the company and its partners. It is more than a comparison tool, it is an instrument of internal improvement for the company.

Clarins, the choice of eco-design

"Within the scope retained by Clarins, the most important emission line item concerns packaging," pointed out James. "This is the point on which we have focused our efforts by committing ourselves resolutely in the path of eco-design."

At this level, the launch last year, of the perfume Womanity by Thierry Mugler is an important milestone in the history of the Clarins Group, which considers it as being "the first eco-responsible fragrance." The case is made from recycled and recyclable cardboard, with no box insert nor flying leaflets, to reduce the secondary packaging. The bottle is indefinitely refillable.

Another important step, the launch by Kibio, the organic skincare brand from the Clarins Group, of the first application with SGD’s Infinite Glass featuring a glass jar in a 50ml optimized size, resulting in a reduction in packaging volume. And another surprise: distributors, more than consumers, had to be convinced of the relevance of these changes !