Marketing and Comms
L'Oréal USA Product Labeling System Aims to Educate Consumers About the Environmental Impact of Products

New survey finds 83% of US consumers value brand product transparency, but only 47% feel they have the information to make sustainability-based purchasing decisions. Impact labeling will begin with Garnier products and roll out progressively across L'Oréal's brand portfolio.

This week, L'Oréal USA announced the rollout of L'Oréal's Product Impact Labeling system in the United States. The initiative, first launched in France in 2020, gives consumers the relative environmental impact of each product compared to other L'Oréal products in the same category. Products are ranked on a scale from A to E by considering 14 planetary impact factors — including greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, ocean acidification and biodiversity — measured at every stage of a product's life cycle — from ingredients to packaging, manufacturing process, transport; and ultimately, use and disposal.

First featured on various Garnier hair and skincare products, the Product Impact Labeling system will roll out progressively across L'Oréal's brand portfolio including Kiehl's, L'Oréal Paris, Redken and CeraVe. Following the ingredient list, consumers can find the Product Impact Label of Garnier products on the product information webpage.

Image credit: Garnier

"L'Oréal's Product Impact Labeling system is a core component of the L'Oréal for the Future program, which outlines our sustainability commitments for 2030. Its rollout in the United States has the power to help change consumer behavior and, therefore, accelerate the beauty industry's progress toward greater sustainability," said Marissa Pagnani McGowan, Chief Sustainability Officer for North America. "This comes at a time when sustainability is increasingly becoming a focus for more American consumers. Using principles of environmental science, this tool will empower consumers, support more informed purchasing decisions and foster a culture of greater brand transparency."

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Alongside the new labeling system, L'Oréal USA revealed the findings of a new study conducted in partnership with Morning Consult, which surveyed 2,000 US consumers. Key findings include:

  • More than half of US consumers surveyed (54 percent) expect to find information about sustainability-related factors on company websites.

  • Most shoppers are concerned with at least one of the pre-determined environmental impacts. Human destruction of various environments is the most recognized issue at over 50 percent, followed by water scarcity at 43 percent, air pollution at 37 percent, and ozone depletion at 35 percent.

  • Nearly 60 percent of US adults believe they have become more sustainable in the past year.

The survey results and the growing brand adoption of product carbon labels support other recent research — which shows consumer trust in ecolabels to highlight more sustainable products; their willingness to decrease their consumption and pay more for sustainable products to help the environment; and their desire for a better understanding of how their habits and the products they buy impact the environment.

"The survey results show that consumers have clear expectations for sustainability — a critical source of innovation for our teams, from the supply of raw materials to the composition of our formulas. To meet their expectations, we set action plans to improve the environmental profile of lower-ranked products," said Sanford Browne, President of Research & Innovation for North America. "We can leverage cutting-edge processes like biotechnology, green chemistry, and extraction to reveal new dimensions of product performance and reduce our environmental footprint, compared to traditional methods. By 2030, our goal is for 100 percent of our products to incorporate into their design improvements in formulas, production, packaging and other aspects that help reduce their impact compared to previous generations of products."

Grounded in global standards for environmental science and life-cycle analysis, the methodology behind the Product impact labeling system was co-developed with 11 international and independent experts and scientists between 2014 and 2016. Independent auditor Bureau Veritas has verified the application of L'Oréal's methodology and the accuracy of our data, issuing a favorable assessment in March 2022 (Bureau Veritas certificate). L'Oréal's methodology aligns with the European Commission's Product Environmental Performance recommendations.

L'Oréal says it will continue to improve its best practices on transparency and sustainable consumption as part of its sustainability commitments for 2030, and the 2021 "EU Green Consumption Pledge." The personal care giant has committed to sharing the learnings of the impact-labeling initiative with the 60 members of the EcoBeautyScore Consortium, aiming to develop an industry-wide environmental impact assessment and scoring system for cosmetics products. L'Oréal has committed to transitioning from its own product-impact labeling to the EcoBeautyScore once it becomes available in late 2023.

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