For L'Oréal Netherlands, positive impact begins with a cup of FairChain Coffee

By Vivian Elion, Impact Officer at Moyee Coffee

Who would have guessed that one of the world’s largest cosmetics brands and a game-changing Amsterdam coffee company would have so much in common? And maybe it’s just coincidence that L’Oréal unveiled a progressive sustainability agenda in the same year that Moyee was founded to radically change the global coffee chain in 2013. But when the two brands finally met they quickly discovered that they’d been walking the same positive impact path since 2013. Both wanted to revolutionize their industries by calculating their impact based on the entire value chain – from raw commodities and packaging materials to carbon footprint, recycling and employment in developing countries.

Back in 2013, L’Oréal was the first cosmetics company to seriously consider the entire value chain. Fast forward to 2018 and those impact investments paid off. During that time, L’Oréal reduced its carbon footprint by 77% compared to 2005, even as it increased production by 38%. Today, L’Oréal continues to prove that sustainability and growth can go hand in hand. In a virtual interview with L’Oréal Netherland’s Sustainability Manager Ana Lee, we talk about circularity, sustainability labels and impact in a cup.

What makes companies like L'Oréal and Moyee unique is the way they integrate raw material sourcing, production and transportation into their impact agendas.

Despite having 86,000 employees worldwide, L’Oréal considers itself a very agile company. Take the Covid-19 pandemic as an example. The company reacted quickly to the crisis and was amongst the first to transform their production lines from cosmetics to disinfectant hand gel. They were able to do this because of the strong network and transparency they have over their value chain. According to Ana, this type of agility is unique in the cosmetics industry.

“One of the most difficult things for us is pushing for continuous improvement in a way that our clients and consumers can also relate to,” she says. By continuous improvement, she means circularity: taking responsibility for your products beyond the point of sale and recycling them after use. “L’Oréal operates in 150 countries worldwide; this gives us an enormous platform to impact the cosmetics industry. We are committed to use our size to our advantage.”  

Ana has two roles at L’Oréal: she is both Sustainability Manager and in charge of Regulatory Affairs. She takes part when the country management committee creates internal themes like ‘Sustainability at Heart’ and decides what topics to focus on each year to build sustainability initiatives around. Last year, one of the topics they chose was ‘building footprint’. And what is one of the most important aspects in an office building? Indeed, coffee!

“We found Moyee pretty quickly in our search,” she says. “We were attracted by Moyee’s impact goals, which coincided nicely with our Sharing Beauty With All policy.”

When she dove deeper, however, she also discovered how Moyee is using the blockchain to increase transparency in the coffee value chain. As L’oréal strives to be the leader in Beauty Tech, Moyee’s technology driven innovation was the final trigger in choosing to work with Moyee. Ana laughs when she thinks back to the presentation she gave to her facility manager and buyers about FairChain. Her colleagues from the purchase-department were not used to Blockchain-certified companies like Moyee, to say the least!

“I definitely needed some extra persuasive power,” she says. “Because I wanted them to truly understand the idea driving FairChain and imagine how it contributes to our own impact goals here at L’Oréal.”

Her pitch worked. Today, the entire L’Oréal office in the Netherlands drinks Moyee and understands that with each cup they drink they are realizing positive impact.

By drinking Moyee we are able to make a positive impact without having to compromise on quality or taste.

This is not the end of L’Oréal’s impact journey; it’s only the beginning. Ana is convinced that once the ‘Greta Thunberg generation’ – ten years on up – comes of age, they will demand sustainable products. She hopes that by that time brands will be able to show their environmental impact on their packaging.

“In the same way washing machines have labels now,” Ana says.

In the coming decade, L’Oréal will increase its focus on science based targets, biodiversity and carbon neutrality. If our FairChain coffee can contribute to their sustainability ambitions by showing how easy impact can be – i.e. as easy as sipping a cup of coffee – then that’s a role we are more than willing to play.