Beauty

Responsible Beauty: Clarins Commits to Plastic Neutrality by 2025

Christian Courtin-Clarins, president of the supervisory board of the Clarins group, talks to L’Officiel about Clarins’ commitment to ‘responsible beauty,’ including a zero-landfill policy and aims for plastic neutrality by 2025.
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2020 is a year that has forced change. For better or for worse, it has led us to reassess the status quo, including issues relating to global warming, climate change challenges and the effect pollution has on our lives. Thoughtful consumption has also become all the more relevant for the beauty industry, with sustainability a “great factor of importance” when it comes to making purchase decisions, as stated by Research and Markets’ packaging report published earlier in July 2020.

Beauty brands are meeting this reality with renewed commitment to sustainable development. But long before sustainability became a buzzword, Clarins has had a strong commitment towards caring for both the people and planet, and recently strengthened its sustainability goals. The French luxury beauty company has been carbon neutral since 2020, aiming to further reduce its carbon footprint by 30%, become 100% plastic neutral by 2025, and making all packaging recyclable and achieving a B-corp certification by 2023. 

At the center of this change is Christian Courtin-Clarins. President of the supervisory board at Clarins and oldest son of the founder of the beauty brand, Christian Courtin-Clarins’ has a strong passion for environmental issues. 

He puts simply: “Cosmetics companies have to care about our ecosystem. Sustainable development is a matter of common sense. Clarins has strived to be exemplary for over 30 years, and the awareness of the sector cannot be disputed. The sentence that I regularly ask myself: ‘Now I know, what do I do next?'"

Ahead, we speak to him on Clarin's commitment to the environment, upcoming green innovations, and his personal connection with nature. 

What does "sustainable beauty" mean to Clarins?

Caring for the planet, and caring for people. For the planet, it means leaving positive environmental impact, using plants and ingredients that protect the biodiversity of our Earth, and inculcating a circular economy. On the people level, we pay attention to all of our stakeholders, starting with consumers and our employees. We ensure the quality and safety of the products, and engage with acts of solidarity, supporting causes that truly matter to us.

Sustainable development has been a primary concern at Clarins since the beginning; it is one of our main values, and we have always aimed to care for people and the planet.

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Clarins X FEED. A partnership between FEED founder Lauren Bush Lauren and Christian Courtin-Clarins in 2011 to fight hunger. Since that time, Clarins and FEED have provided millions of school meals through the United Nations World Food Programme. Image: Courtesy

How has the events from 2020 affected Clarins?

The pandemic crisis has changed general consumer behaviour – a digital presence has become more important than ever. In our case, digital is another way to experience the brand in the same way you can in a physical store and allows us to be more transparent with our practices, primarily corporate social responsibility (CSR). It is not just about preserving resources and limiting the impact on ecosystems; it is about voluntarily doing everything possible to give back the beauty that certain human activities have altered. And then comes the next step: controlling the environmental impact.

 

 

What are the steps you are taking towards becoming plastic neutral by 2025?

In 1999, I prohibited plastic bags from all Clarins, almost 20 years before the French law was passed. In 2014, several years before cosmetics legislation required it, I stopped using plastic microbeads in all our exfoliating products. We want to have a real impact on the plastic issue. Our next goal is to reach plastic neutrality by 2025. This includes installing new recycling and offset programmes, together with a 30% reduction in plastic usage by 2025.

We’ve also partnered with Plastic Odyssey (PO) (a boat powered solely by the energy from the plastic waste harvested at each of its stopovers) to educate people about plastic recycling and preserving the oceans. PO is one of those projects that really changes the way we look at things, to be careful with plastic and see it not as waste, but as a resource.

 

What are your steps towards becoming a circular economy, and where does your plastic waste go?

We apply the three 3R's principles: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Reduce: The weight and plastic used within our packaging. For instance, the new My Clarins 50ml jar uses 26% fewer plastics and is 30% lighter than our usual pack.

Reuse: we have implemented new Refill systems for our products in France, as well as reusing post-consumer materials like glass and plastics to make new packaging.

 Recycle: We work on improving our packaging materials to make it easier to recycle, and aim fo 100% of the skincare catalogue to be recyclable by 2025.

For our plastic waste, all our industrial sites practice a zero-landfill policy, so they are valorised either by recycling or energy recovering.

 

Any exciting green innovations in store?

 In 2021, Clarins is going to launch its very first solid shampoo, without any plastic packaging.

We have also just launched a new refillable system in some of our boutiques in France where customers can refill their Clarins empty bottles of Eau Dynamisante and Tonic Oil at a lower cost.

 

 

Finally, what is Clarins’ and your connection with nature?

Our love for nature has inspired our research and stimulates our innovation since our inception in 1954. We respect and are conscious of how much we owe to humankind and nature and have been the pioneers in being committed to protecting nature from the very beginning.

Personally, I been passionate about nature from an early age. I remember visiting the Jardin des Plantes with my father as a child. I was fascinated by the botanists; I thought of them as being a bit like wizards. Because of them, I became aware of the power of plants and, therefore, their importance. It is both a family vision and love affair with nature and the plants, especially those found in the Alps.

 

In 2019, we unveiled the Le Domaine Clarins in the Alps to grow and study plants for the development of its skin-care and makeup products. Directly inspired by permaculture, we do not use heavy mechanical material, with only horses used to work the land to respect the soil’s life gently.  It is an incredible source of quality raw materials. We firmly believe the best ingredients make the best skincare products. Today, more than 80% of the Clarins ingredients are plant based. When you work so closely with plants, you have to love and protect them and respect those who grow them.  Nature doesn't need us. It is quite the opposite: we need it!

 

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