In the last decade alone, humans have produced more plastic waste than in the whole of the previous century with up to 12.7 million tons finding its way into our oceans. This plastic disintegrates slowly into microscopic particles that devastate marine life.
As an industry, what positive steps can we take to mitigate the situation and how can we continue to make a difference? In recent times, the topic of sustainability has leapt to the top of the agenda in travel retail with beauty brand L’Occitane a consistent, coherent voice for action.
In this opinion piece, L’Occitane Group Managing Director Travel, Retail, Export, B2B & Spa Worldwide Aline Valantin outlines the company’s key sustainability projects and highlights what the travel retail industry can do to spearhead waste reduction.
“Sustainability has been at the very heart of our business since its inception,” says L’Occitane Group Managing Director Travel, Retail, Export, B2B & Spa Worldwide Aline Valantin. “L’Occitane has been an eco-pioneer since 1976, operating a bottle-return policy at its retail outlets. Since then, we have committed to using eco-friendly manufacturing methods, eco-design and sustainable packaging for our product ranges following our motto of reduce, recycle, react.
“It has been ten years since we began offering in-store recycling, and we have also introduced recycled plastic bottles and eco-refills. Now, we have reached a new milestone with the wider deployment of eco-refills in worldwide travel retail.”
For Valantin, the eco-refills for travel kits and products such as the award-winning L’Occitane de Provence’s Almond Shower Gel, Almond Milk Concentrate, and Cherry blossom range, are “a game changer” In the industry. She said, “In the war on plastics, we believe that our eco-refills are the hero of the hour. Not only do they use -85% less plastic than a normal bottle; they have also reduced the use of approximately 200 tons of plastic each year.
“L’Occitane was the first natural beauty brand to introduce eco-refills in-store. With the launch of our new travel range we will continue to work closely with our travel partners and stakeholders to disseminating a clear, focused and authentic message to the consumer. Our research indicates that respecting biodiversity, sourcing ethically, outlawing single-use plastic and reducing waste are key objectives for our customers.”
L’Occitane Group has supported a wide range of innovative sustainability initiatives over the years. This includes the soon to launch Plastic Odyssey expedition that will recycle ocean waste along the most polluted coastlines of Africa, Asia and Latin America. The group has also partnered with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to promote circular economy practices and joined forces with recycling company TerraCycle.
This year, L’Occitane Group received two sustainable procurement leadership awards from EcoVadis, global provider of business sustainability ratings. The award categories were for Best Value Chain Engagement and Outstanding Programme Leadership.
“We know from research that our efforts in sustainability have had a positive impact on 84% of our travel retail and duty-free customers, of whom 71% said that they actively sought eco-friendly and sustainable products. For us, this warm and positive response from our customers makes our sustainable efforts more rewarding.”
L’Occitane Group Chief Sustainability Officer Adrien Geiger added, “We look closely at nature to learn from its efficiency and to develop methods and our materials. Because what we call the ‘circular economy’ — which we seek to put in place in our value chains — is the fundamental operandi of Nature in which there is no waste.”
As the industry gears up for a post-pandemic recovery, L’Occitane reinforces its commitment to reducing waste and ensuring a green future. L’Occitane Group Chairman and CEO Reinold Geiger added, “By stepping up our actions to preserve biodiversity and fight against plastic waste, we intend to contribute to the two major battles of the century.”
Note: The Moodie Davitt Report is set to launch the latest in its Curated series of newsletters, in association with L’Occitane. These will feature a selection of stories on key issues around sustainability in travel retail and beyond. Please email Sinead@MoodieDavittReport.com to subscribe.