The respect for the environment and sustainability is fortunately not a new concept for Guerlain. A french house adored by personalities and celebrities, one among the oldest in the world being founded in 1828.
For our #BackstageConversation we talk with Cécile Lochard, Guerlain Chief Sustainability Officer about the brand’s shift towards the natural, its level of involvement with sustainability as well as its future ambitions.
Guerlain is one of the pioneers in research to apply the properties of nature in its new range of cosmetics. Tell us about it and the inspiration level of nature.
Since founding, raw materials have been a major source of inspiration and innovation for our House. Our pledge to protect biodiversity is a natural step towards ensuring the quality and longevity of our creations and savoir- faire. Committing to this key issue also allows us, in our own way, to help preserve the Beauty of the world. Our local biodiversity conservation strategy has focused on forging sustainable production channel partnerships as is seen with our Honey and Orchid supplies. Within this context, Guerlain has partnered with organizations and local stakeholders across France, Europe and the rest of the world to implement programmes and the sustainable production channels for these essential supplies. At home and abroad Guerlain supports cultural, environmental and socio-economic approaches to safeguarding the natural materials that make up our products. We strive to provide long-term support for our sustainable production channels, usually over a period of ten years. Concretely, this is seen in the form of financial assistance, technical and scientific support, skills-based sponsorship and even ad hoc sharing of expertise between our teams of volunteers. Blending “fair business” with philanthropy, these result in many in-person exchanges and meetings in the field.
We have so many destinations and particular know-hows to share. And that’s one of the objectives of our traceability digital “Bee respect” platform: It offers transparency on more than 500 ingredients and highlight 40 suppliers and partners across the world. Moreover, our clients can find on it all the information related to the design of our products, such as formula ingredients, packaging elements, suppliers, places of manufacture or their carbon footprint.
What is driving this shift towards the natural and what do you hope to achieve in the future of the brand?
Guerlain has many ambitions in terms of sustainability for the future. To continue preserving biodiversity, Guerlain’s ambitions are to source 100% of its iconic raw materials from sustainable production channels (certified UEBT by 2026) and to become the benchmark company in terms of protecting bees more than 2500 beehives in biosphere reserves of UNESCO and repopulating these reserves with more than 125 million of bees by 2025.
We have also set the goal to keep innovating through eco-design and clean beauty without compromising on the quality or intrinsic beauty of our products: by 2021 100% of our new skincare products will be composed at least of 90% ingredients of natural origin.
Concerning transparency, by 2022 we will ensure 100% traceability for all our products thanks to Bee Respect, our digital traceability platform and transparency.
In addition, Guerlain aims for carbon neutrality by 2030 scopes 1 2 3 in order to address climate change and to have 100% of its subsidiaries worldwide be ISO 14001 certified by 2023. Lastly, by 2021, our positive social impact goal is to have 100% of Guerlain employees participating in our Bee School volunteering day and train 50 women beekeepers in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves by 2025.
What do you hope to see in the future of the beauty industry?
I really believe that we are at a critical moment. We can see how deep changes are accelerating. With a thirst for meaning, purpose, empathy, care, respect, naturality. I enjoy working for a House mixing so perfectly crafts and Nature deeply enrooted in its DNA as I really do believe that my green vision for luxury (I wrote a book 10 years ago on the subject, the first on the topics of SD and luxury) is the alliance between creativity and sustainability.
Because no product can be desirable without a sustainable society. We are committed to ensuring that our products and the manner in which they are produced have a positive impact on our entire ecosystem and the regions in which we operate, and that our House actively contributes to a better future.
I won’t dare to say as Dostoyevsky that beauty will save the world, with all due respect to him, and Beauty won’t save the world on its own, nevertheless the sector and its players are doing their part, Guerlain in the lead.
What is Guerlain’s level of involvement with sustainability?
Over the last few years, the House has progressed significantly in structuring our sustainability approach and the singularity of our house: a nature driven brand with bee at heart.
As a result of our 14-years track record, we have proudly managed to work sustainability from the formula of our products to their end-of-life, from sustainable sourcing to eco-design and transparency following LVMH standards and external ones as robust methodology to always improve ourselves.
Our sustainability strategy is shaped around four key pillars, each of them associated with KPIs:
First, sustainable innovation with full transparency and traceability. We focus on clean beauty, naturality and circular economy.
Secondly, taking actions for climate to help fight global warming by reducing CO2 emissions.
Thirdly, by preserving & regenerating biodiversity, leading Bee protection.
And lastly, creating positive social contribution, with again the BEE at heart.
For several years Guerlain has been committed to eco-formulation and eco- packaging design as a means for sustainable innovation. To meet this goal, our development priorities have been clearly oriented towards researching more natural formulas and offering packaging with a reduced environmental impact. Of course, without sacrificing perceived value & product performance.
Our ambitions and standards regarding Naturality are extremely stringent: each new GUERLAIN formula must meet a minimum of 90% naturally derived ingredients whenever possible. To cite a few recent examples, the new Abeille Royale Lotion features over 98% naturally derived ingredients. On Makeup, which has traditionally been extremely challenging for brands to propose natural products, Guerlain has been pre-cursor, and in 2019, we launched L’Essentiel foundation formulated with 97% of natural origin ingredients. We also just launched a new version of our iconic Terracotta, made of 96% naturally derived ingredients.
Regarding ECODESIGN, we follow the credo of 3 Rs: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE.
Each innovation must achieve at least one R. We endeavor to develop products which integrate all three Rs..) and we note each of our new products related to an internal LVMH eco-design standard IPE( indicator of eco performance) : each of our product must reach a minimum of 12/20.
Our eco design battles are not the same for all our portfolio, it depends on the categories and products concerned. For skincare and perfume, we prioritize lighter packaging, often made of glass – the most effective eco- design action we have identified. In 2017, Guerlain reduced its Orchidée Impériale jars’ weight by 60% than the previous generations. Going forward,100% of our new glass bottles and jars have to be made with partly recycled materials and/or reducing their weight.
Regarding client’s communication on Sustainability, we led the way in the term of transparency and traceability in the luxury sector with Bee Respect. We launched the BEE RESPECT platform in 2019, which is a digital tool to help consumers better understand and be informed about the whole lifecycle of Guerlain products: formula ingredients, packaging elements, suppliers, places of manufacture or their carbon footprint.
For us, exceptional quality of our products, requires full transparency with no fear.
Regarding climate: we are taking concrete actions for climate to reduce our footprint and to protect the living who depend on the climate. We aim to reach carbon neutrality, by 2030. The LVMH group has an objective of Carbon Neutrality by 2050 – Guerlain is trying to go above & beyond. Reaching carbon neutrality requires full commitment of the organization, and this is not an easy job as it transforms the way we should work…we have for example completely reviewed our innovation process to be able to deliver the product and the POS advertising material in time by sea and optimize our air/sea ratio… At a more local level, since 2013, Guerlain has used “Bumblebee” (“Bourdon”), a 100% electric, noise free, CO2-free nighttime delivery truck in order to restock its Parisian boutiques
Pledging to preserve biodiversity is a fundamental step for our Maison. committing to this key issue allows us to give back to nature, again with bee protection and bee welfare at heart. Our duty is to make sure that 100% of our iconic raw materials will come from certified sustainable chains. As sourcing standard, Guerlain is primed to sign its official membership with UEBT (Union for Ethical Biotrade) UEBT is a non-profit association internationally recognized for its work with companies on ethical sourcing of ingredients from biodiversity working to regenerate nature and secure a better future for local people through ethical sourcing.
This is for us a strong demonstration that Guerlain continues its journey to ethically source natural ingredients as we planned a series of on-site assessments of our strategic and iconic raw materials from 2021 to 2022 in order to be UEBT certified.
And I am excited to conclude on Societal Contribution by sharing a very special program we have been working on with UNESCO Indeed We signed a partnership with UNESCO MAB agency to kick-off the WOMEN FOR BEES program, designed to train women beekeepers in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves across the world closed to our sustainable plants and honey chains In a nutshell We will empower through beekeeping training a community of 50 WOMEN within 5 years in 25 reserves while restocking the world with millions of bees. Through our research and advisement from UNESCO, we have found alarming results that women are more vulnerable to climate change and biodiversity erosion and have been particularly affected by job cuts and unemployment in the time of COVID.
Based on this new focus on eco-sustainability, what products from your range would you recommend to readers?
At Guerlain, we have stayed loyal to our core values whilst constantly evolving in terms of sustainability requirements and actions. As a result of our 14-year track record, we have proudly managed to work sustainability from the formula of our products to their end-of-life, from sustainable sourcing to eco-design and transparency.
Guerlain continues to evolve regarding sustainability actions and requirements to this day and this is key to turn out our sustainability plan into concrete goals to achieve, run by the whole teams.
One of our major goal is to reinforce Guerlain’s position as a key player in the natural and clean beauty domain and become the benchmark luxury house in terms of naturalness our target is that each new Guerlain formula must meet a minimum of 90% naturally derived ingredients whenever possible. After the performance of our skincare ranges regarding naturalness (by 2021 100% of our new skincare products will be composed at least of 90% ingredients of natural origin), challenge is fully accepted in makeup category. And perfectly illustrated though our 2021 launches. We have to point out that it represents a real challenge, especially when it comes to makeup category and the ability to maintain the levels of performance that meet our high standards, but it enables us to open a new chapter of its quest towards natural beauty by launching 3 essential products of a makeup routine formulated with more than 95% of natural origin ingredients: TERRACOTTA, the new natural bronzing powder with 96% naturally-derived ingredients, l’ESSENTIEL HIGH PERFECTION, the new high perfection foundation with 96% naturally-derived ingredients and KISSKISS SHINE BLOOM, the new 95% naturally-derived shine lipstick.
Some other achievements connected to our climate and certification ambitions: 100% of our French sites including our production sites and 56% of our affiliates are iso 14001 certified (including Guerlain Portugal) and 100% of the electricity at our French production sites comes from renewable sources.
We’ve been able at Guerlain to go further with eco-design, even with our most prestigious products! Our torch bearers eco-designed packaging are the following ones:
2 examples of “lighter / more compact packaging the same capacity:
“DOING BETTER WITH LESS” – In 2017, Guerlain reduced its Orchidée Impériale (our most prestigious skincare line) jars’ weight by 60% than the previous generations – I’m telling you; it was an audacious bet on our ultra- premium line, but it has paid off. Our clients not only love the jars, and share our commitment, but also now happily travel with them. This success story is illustrated by the number of customers who not only love the jars, but also now happily travel with them. This satisfied response continues to spur us on.
In 2019, following the commitment we had made to reduce our carbon footprint with our Orchidée Impériale jars two years previous, Guerlain had proved itself a pioneer yet again with its choice of 90% recycled glass Abeille Royale cream jars. Increased quantities of recycled calcin, lighter- weight glass and identical product capacity feature in the new Abeille Royale cream jars. This nectar can now be found in Infinite Glass® NEO jars, an eco-innovation from partner Verescence and the first premium jar to be made from 90% recycled glass of which 25% is post-consumer (PCR). These features make for a jar with an annual carbon footprint reduction of 44% and a water consumption reduction of 42%.
3 KEY EXAMPLES:
Our iconic and highly symbolic bee bottles are refillable & customizable. Our iconic Bee Bottle is still manufactured by the Pochet & du Courval ateliers since its creation in 1853. It can be refilled with our full portfolio of fragrances, of which there are over 130 in the catalogue, in most of our Boutiques or to order. The Bee Bottle has become part of the House’s approach to reduce the environmental impact of its packaging and containers. All while staying true to the values of high-quality and exceptional savoir-faire that are so important to Guerlain. A Bee Bottle personalization atelier can be found at the center of most of our Boutiques, where size, color, engraving, cord and ribbon are used to make each bottle unique.
Our refillable lipstick: Rouge G: In 1870 Guerlain created the very first lipstick “Ne m’oubliez pas”, then, the first refillable lipstick in 1930 – Rouge Automatique. Rouge G is a contemporary interpretation of this visionary creation and remains one of very few refillable lipsticks on the market.
And finally, our collaboration with Bernardaud House to propose our Orchidée Impériale Black in refillable formats: the quintessence of luxury and sustainability.With this collaboration Guerlain and the Bernardaud House have partnered to create an artistic object which has been designed to last. In making the Orchidée Impériale ultra-premium skincare jar, Guerlain wanted to create an artisanal object made from sustainable materials which was respectful of the environment and could be repeatedly refilled. Made from Limoges porcelain, an inert material which once fired can be recycled within the construction sector (for example), this jar generates zero waste during manufacture (un-fired rejects can be reintegrated into the production cycle).