Karen Lemasson, CSR manager at Expanscience

Premium Beauty News - When a group like yours initiates this kind of approach, you face to two types of issues. Environmental issues, of course, but also issues which are specific to the industry in which your group is operating?

Karen Lemasson - Absolutely! We must protect the environment and its biodiversity. We can say that today we are facing a real endangerment of services offered by Nature to the economy. Without being over-pessimistic, we must still bear in mind that, according to the IUCN [1], a quarter of mammals and every eighth bird are threatened with extinction and that 80% of the global primary forest has disappeared since 1998.

Furthermore companies in our industry obviously need to secure their supplies by integrating in their "inner workings" a "high level of acceptability on what they do vis-a-vis their stakeholders" (Actors in chains, consumers, suppliers, authorities...). In a nutshell..., "Companies will be evaluated according to the care they provide to others" (ISO 26000).

In the continuity of this last message, we must recall the main principles expressed in the "Nagoya Protocol", i.e. a control of the access to genetic resources (GR) and of the benefit sharing (ABS).

Premium Beauty News - Your group has made very strong commitments for 2015. And this seems to be just around the corner!

Karen Lemasson - Indeed, it’s looming on the horizon but it needs to be prepared now! Our Group operates in both pharmacy, dermo-cosmetics (with the Mustela and Noviderm brands), and in the field of cosmetic actives. As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy we have made commitments for 2015 and in particular the one of having 100% of our new products in dermo-cosmetics eco-designed by 2015. In concrete terms, this means that for our packaging either we work under the "3R" approach (Reduce, Replace, Recycle) or we chose the right ingredients. This means we work on all the life stages of our dermo-cosmetic products (from sourcing to the product’s end-of-life) to identify and reduce the most important environmental impacts.

In line with these guidelines, we are also working on a more "responsible" and transparent communication (for example we are working on more "responsible" promotional items, on more eco friendly communication media, on our messages etc..).

This commitment includes of course our purchases and requires both to secure our supply channels for raw materials but also to secure our purchases and all this, by reducing the legacy of our suppliers and providers societal impacts.

In 2015, we will have deployed a CSR-oriented action plan on 100% of our vegetables sectors. To achieve this, we will need of course to have a legal and contractual access to vegetable sources, respect traditional skills, respect biodiversity and be aware of operating a fair return towards local populations, but not only: we must also cover the social aspects (health) of economic development, etc. What is at hand is a global reading of all these issues. In short, we must establish a true responsible purchasing policy.

Premium Beauty News - How do you operate and according to which benchmark criteria?

Karen Lemasson - Our CSR strategy on our vegetable supply chains is based on ISO 26000 (see figure below based on the seven central issues in terms of social responsibility). We are subject to an independent analysis concerning our "fair return" practices (ABS or APA in particular) and of biodiversity preservation (UEBT).

Indeed, since December 2011, the Laboratoires Expanscience are members of the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT), thus reinforcing their commitment in their efforts to preserve biodiversity and of compliance with the rules of ethical trade all along their vegetables supply chains. To note that we are the first French pharmaceutical lab to have joined the UEBT.

Premium Beauty News - Can you give us a concrete and recent example of the approach of Laboratories Expanscience?

Lemasson Karen - Yes, the one on avocado for example. We had to find committed partners, establish identity cards and take actions to reduce the negative impacts and stimulate the positive ones. We went through open and constructive negotiations to validate a fair price, with the desire to have a policy of close support and direct exchanges with local partners. We chose to encourage the local manufacture of oils and cakes. For example, one of our partners very involved in terms of social responsibility undertook an extensive rebalancing work centred on the local access to the fruit by valorising old non-exploitable trees through the development of adapted grafting techniques enabling their near rejuvenation.

Premium Beauty News - A responsible purchasing policy which goes, of course, far beyond ingredients?

Karen Lemasson - We take everything into account (promotional items, materials etc..) At each of our products life stage and of course within an ongoing improvement process!