The cosmetics industry hasn’t always had the best reputation for sustainability. The non-recyclable packaging alone creates serious waste. At L’Oreal, Nicolas Krafft worked across multiple continents while working for the professional division, and he would learn a lot about how to introduce environmental responsibility to a company.
Nicolas Krafft is now taking a more active role in affecting change, having recently joined the Cambridge Sustainability Leadership program. This program speaks directly to entrepreneurs who want to reduce their carbon footprint. The former L’Oreal executive shares his thoughts on the inherent challenges of switching up the status quo.
Nicolas Krafft Has 4 Goals
Nicolas Krafft has narrowed his focus to four measurable goals for the beauty industry:
- Fewer CO2 emissions: This is the leading contributor to climate change, and transportation and manufacturing are at the heart of CO2 emission rise. Companies are doing their best to become carbon neutral by reducing energy consumption along the entire value chain, prioritizing renewable energy and offsetting their remaining carbon consumption.
- Reduced water consumption: Fresh water is necessary for many beauty products, but their formulas can be adjusted to minimize how much is used, both through manufacturing and consumption. For the latter instance, products like powdered shampoo and solid conditioner require no H2O at all.
- Reduced waste: The waste from beauty products, whether it’s shampoo down the drain or packaging in the trash, can hurt the environment in a myriad of ways. Biodegradable products are now highly in-demand, regardless of what they’re used for, and using recycled plastics helps decrease waste and make these companies and their products significantly more eco-friendly and appealing to younger consumers. It’s a win-win for the companies, the environment, and the consumers.
- Better ingredients and ethically sourced: Many synthetic ingredients will need to be reformulated to meet the needs of the new generation of consumers. Clean beauty means removing harmful ingredients. The drive to replace these ingredients with ones that support the health of the consumers is at the core of this movement and consumers are demanding natural ingredients and ethical/traceable sourcing of these ingredients. Ethical sourcing includes being supportive of the communities producing these and making sure they are fair trade ingredients, while also being careful to not disruptful of the supply of ingredients that may be used for other purposes as well.
There are multiple factors contributing to global warming right now, so it’s important for companies to define their mission. From there, management can unravel what resources they’ll need and how those resources can be best allocated.
To make changes without harming the quality of the product isn’t easy, but it is one that brands need to commit to. To help offset this, Krafft predicts more groundbreaking solutions in the near future to address many of these issues. Considering the demand is there, it stands to reason the industry will get some of the best and brightest working on the problem and drive the next wave of major innovation.
In Nicolas Krafft’s opinion, this is no question about whether companies can afford to be sustainable. When more than 4 out of 5 customers want ethically sourced products, this is a question of survival for brands, particularly as they begin to market toward Gen Zers. This generation, born between 1995 and 2010, will support companies that uphold their own moral principles.
B-Corps are Leading the Change
Benefit Corporations, sometimes known as B-Corps, are for-profit companies that get certification for meeting societal and environmental requirements, as well as governance and transparency to the public. They rely on their social and environmental commitments to drive the brands, and Krafft has seen how quickly the public has responded to these brands.
The premise of a B Corp is that it’s looking past the sole focus on the well-being of its shareholders and into larger communities as well as the planet we all share. This translates to transparency, legal accountability, and high standards of performance. If a B Corp chooses to partner with a company, it has to be certain that the other organization shares the same values.
Larger companies may have more of a foothold in their industry, but smaller brands have an enviable amount of flexibility. You can see these fast shifts happening in the cosmetics industry with family-owned businesses like Davines. From the beginning, Davines was way ahead of its big-business counterparts in terms of sustainability initiatives. Instead of fighting the changes or lobbying for new deadlines, it accepted and championed the movement. It meant that other beauty brands were immediately put on the defensive.
New Initiatives From Nicolas Krafft
All companies need to examine daily practices to get a sense of where they need to take action. It could be as simple as promoting more public transportation for employees, offering incentives for taking the bus or carpooling with coworkers. Aveda prevented 150 million caps from being thrown away by implementing a recycling program for them. L’Oreal would cut its water consumption by half at both plants and distribution centers.
Brands should also be looking at how they can collaborate with one another for better results. For instance, hair-care brand Kevin Murphy partnered with environmentally-conscious Ecoheads, a shower-head producer that can reduce water waste by 65%. This partnership not only allowed them to reduce water in salons, but it also paved the way for better relationships between different professionals in the industry. (Kevin Murphy also makes its shampoo bottles from reclaimed plastic found in the ocean, reusing around 360 tones of plastic per year.)
Beauty brand Henkel teamed up with recycling company Terra Cycle to allow US consumers to recycle products in exchange for donations to their favorite charities. Larger organizations like Green Circle Salons are also becoming more popular, giving small businesses the chance to reduce waste across the board.
According to Nicolas Krafft, working together is not just recommended but ever-more necessary. There’s more demand for beauty products, but we can’t pillage the environment to meet the public’s wishes. From salons to manufacturers, the entire industry has to be in it together.
About Nicolas Krafft
A Switzerland native, Nicolas Krafft spent more than 20 years at L’Oreal. He managed the Matrix brand launch in Asia and grew the company’s portfolio of brands in Eastern Europe as Vice President of Business Development. He was also named International General Manager of Pulp Riot.
His leadership skills were instrumental for development and branding and his insight would lead him to a more nuanced vision of how the company could best connect with its customers. By identifying the trends and keeping a larger eye on the best interests of the communities he serves, Nicolas Krafft has proven himself to be an advocate for sustainability on a global scale.