Premium Beauty News - This is the first time that the LVMH annual symposium is dedicated to sustainable development!
Frédéric Bonté - Previous symposia had addressed more fundamental research issues and this year’s theme, as surprising as it may seem, is just as essential to the future of our profession. Indeed, the cosmetic industry is aware of the profound changes affecting main raw materials used and who will have an impact on all our products. This reality is a full part of our long term strategy and of a collective commitment that also involves researchers from R & D in their everyday thinking.
Premium Beauty News - The program places particular emphasis on the supply of cosmetic raw materials. Do you believe this is the main issue?
Frédéric Bonté - Our industrial approach is a responsible one and raw materials represent both a industrial and societal challenge. Take oil for example, due to its extreme abundance, ease of extraction, its fields of applications, is in fact an important resource for the development of our "modern" lifestyle. But this resource, like many others, is not inexhaustible and estimations are that 30% of the oil production will have disappeared within 10 years. Therefore, we must reflect right now on general issues concerning the main solutions offered to us in terms of new resources, different from those directly coming from petrochemicals, for example.
Today a lot of research work has been done on diversifications and ways to approach various resources and it seemed essential to us to take stock. From new sources, especially plant based, tomorrow’s materials will have different functionalities and qualities. We need to have natural raw materials the resource of which is controlled and a full traceability in respect of biodiversity.
Premium Beauty News - A special emphasis will also be placed on the relationship between chemistry and responsible development. It is another way of addressing sustainability, less focused on natural products.
Frédéric Bonté - Chemistry is behind the transformation of a resource in other resources with new functionalities. Chemistry has made considerable progress in its environmental approach. The concepts of molecular economy, recyclable catalysts, of "solvent free" have become the daily concern of a number of engineers and it also impacts the processing of natural resources. This should enable a significant reduction in the impacts of raw materials production and processing by integrating the concept of eco-design.
That being said, natural products, today, take their full place in the production of materials. For example, oleochemistry can now use natural fats from plants (soy, sunflower, rapeseed...) to transform them with short, targeted reactions into detergents, emulsifiers, gelling agents, polymers, a number of product categories that we use and which are therefore more easily biodegradable.
Premium Beauty News - This year the LVMH group held, internally, its own Green Week, echoing the European Conference held in Brussels in May. The shift towards sustainable development seems more complicated to organize for the luxury industry?
Frédéric Bonté - Our commitment to progress and innovation is unwavering in the respect of the integration of the concept of sustainable development into all our activities. This includes the R & D activity upstream the development of our cosmetic products. The concept of sustainable development include the selection of raw materials, production chains and a more global notion of responsibility in the management of projects. Our will is also expressed through a research program on resource access and benefit sharing. During this symposium, the sharing of experience with other industries will help us collectively to enrich our thinking.
Premium Beauty News - What is the role of a structure like LVMH Recherche in the implementation of responses to environmental issues within the group?
Frédéric Bonté - Research and development work in line with the commitments of the group and brands which are part of the Perfumes and Cosmetics branch. Environmental issues must become natural reflexes in the development of projects, be it in skincare or make-up for example. Choosing a material over another, raising the awareness of our partners and suppliers and asking them for a complete traceability of the different steps or by-products of the materials that they propose us are part of our strategy of environmental preservation.
We actively participate to grounds policies through the preservation and re-colonization of orchids or of ingredients in the Dior gardens. We also tackle our research and development issues by taking into account requirements in terms of consumption and biodegradability, solvents limitation, or risk management... It is through our every day pro-activity, that we can build trust and a sustainable future, in line with the commitments of our group.