How to measure and improve the environmental impact of formulas

04/2016 • Updated 14/04/2017

Improving biodegradability and reducing the water footprint are essential vectors for reducing the environmental impact of formulas, and thus improve the environmental footprint of our products.

82% of new or renovated products we launched in 2016 have an improved environmental or social profile in 2016, and 27% thanks to a new formula that reduces its environmental footprint.

The product life cycle assessments conducted by L’Oréal show that one of the main impacts of products on the environment is linked to the quantity of water used and the quality of the water discharged when the consumer uses the product.

Our teams therefore work on improving the environmental profile of the formula in two areas:

  • improvement of their biodegradability;
  • reduction of their water footprint.

The biodegradability of a formula represents its ability to be degraded by micro-organisms present in nature.

To determine the biodegradability of a formula, one need to calculate the ratio between the weight of the formula’s organic ingredients, which are easily biodegradable, and the total weight of the organic ingredients.

In 2015, we increased the average rate of biodegradability of our shampoos to 91% (as against 90% in 2014).Among the new products we launched in 2016, some have levels of biodegradability exceeding 98% in our different brands, such as, for example, Kérastase Aura Botanica Soin Fondamental or Concentré Essentiel, the shampoos and conditioners of the new Biolage R.A.W. range, the Garnier Ultra Doux 5 Plants shampoo, the Roger & Gallet Aura Mirabilis Ultra-Thin Clean Mask or the Lancôme Absolue Precious Oil.

Among the new products we launched in 2016, some have levels of biodegradability exceeding 98% in our different brands

These improvements in terms of the footprint of formulas, combined with the reduction in water consumption achieved at production level, enabled L’Oréal to obtain for the first time a score of “A”, representing the highest level of performance, in the rating of companies with regard to sustainable water management made in 2016 by the CDP (an independent international organization that evaluates the environmental performance of companies).

The water footprint of a formula represents the impact of the products on the aquatic environment.

The Water Footprint Network defines the water footprint from a ‘‘virtual water’’ concept, which evaluates the quantity of water needed for the production and use of a product. This virtual water has been broken down into three categories:

  • Green water or rainwater stored in the soil
  • Blue water in relation to human, domestic, industrial and farming activities
  • Finally, grey water, indicating the volume of water needed to dilute and assimilate products eliminated in aquatic environments

Grey water is considered to be an indicator that represents the water footprint of rinsed formulas. To evaluate it, L’Oréal applies an approach derived from the method used within the scope of granting the European Ecolabel to soaps, shampoos and conditioners. It includes two key parameters that reflect the environmental quality of raw materials, biodegradability and aquatic ecotoxicity.

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More than 40 000

formulas in all 19 types of product* made by L’Oréal have been screened by our experts.

* shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, skincare products, cleansers, hair colouring, styling products, perms, deodorants, suncare products, make-up, fragrances, etc.

2016 82 %
2015 74 %

New or renovated products have an improved environmental or social profile in 2015. Our target: 100% by 2020.


of new or renovated products in 2016 have an improved environmental or social profile thanks to packaging with a lower environmental footprint.

« Nous sommes tous mobilisés pour construire un Loréal plus durable. »

Alexandra Palt

Directrice Responsabilité Sociétale et Environnementale



Find all our publications regarding our sustainability commitments as well as press kits and videos in the Resources section.

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2015 report

Our 2016
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