L’occitane is an international retailer that is known for their fragrances, and among those, the Rose Eau de Toilette is extremely popular. According to the official website, L’occitane is committed to sustainability by searching for eco-friendly ingredients and finding ways to reduce their carbon emissions in the production cycle. However, this seems hard to believe as a majority of the ingredients that make up this product are not listed among the ingredients the company prefers to use. This perfume also contains Alpha-isomethyl ionone, which is a harmful chemical that puts aquatic environments at risk. Though the company states that they are searching for ways to reduce their carbon emissions, they do not provide any details in how they will carry their goals out. Despite these fallbacks, they do seem more transparent about their production process and have worked with a few sustainable organizations to indicate their strong support for environmental protection and preservation.
L’occitane presents three different lists that identify which ingredients they prefer to use, avoid, and use in moderation. Out of the fourteen ingredients that make up this perfume, eight of them are on the moderation list. Of those, Alpha-isomethyl ionone, a synthetic fragrance compound, is deemed a major threat to aquatic environments by the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). GHS identifies hazardous chemical products and serves as an international standard regulated by the United Nations. There is not much detail in how these environments are affected, but it clearly indicates this ingredient as an irritant and an environmental hazard as it induces long-term effects on aquatic life. Another ingredient to look out for is the parfum/fragrance. This label is often used in place of the name of chemicals that are not safe and environmentally friendly. On the bright side, the rose floral water and Sodium benzoate used in this perfume are biodegradable.
L’occitane is fairly transparent about the entire production process. It begins with the extraction process of raw materials as well as the sourcing and purchasing of raw materials. The company claims that they have a “team of agronomist experts who are dedicated to ensuring that strategic raw materials are produced sustainably.” Local products are also purchased for their suppliers in order to reduce their carbon footprint. Research and development are carried out in the L’occitane labs where scientists refrain from incorporating petroleum-based oils and animal products. Raw ingredients are transported to two factories in France, one located in Manosque and the other in Lagorce. After undergoing a thorough check, these raw ingredients are inputted into emulsifiers following a certain formula. Then, the product is inserted in a bottle with its respective label and moved to the distribution center. There are supposedly 30-40 quality controls to ensure consistency and quality. The brand states that they are constantly seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint within the production cycle. Currently, they have achieved a 14% carbon footprint reduction from 2010-2016. Although many of their ingredients are questionable, it does appear that the brand is making a conscious effort to become more sustainable.
As a global brand, L’occitane has clearly expressed its concern for the environment and offered insight on their sustainable practices. They clearly value building long-term relationships with their producers. Their website states that “In 2004, the Group set up its first large-scale organic immortelle plantation programme in Corsica” as a way to express the importance of valuing the environment with equality. In 2018, a RESIST program was launched, investing 2 million dollars to help “shea women become autonomous.” The brand has a 3 year partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their goals are to identify the brand’s impact on biodiversity, create a list naming endangered ecosystems along France’s Mediterranean coastlines, and to support local projects that are trying to preserve the Mediterranean heritage within the environment. The brand has been ISO 14001 certified, which is a certification given by an organization that sets the standards of an environmental management program according to a specific company. It ensures that the environmental impact of a company is being monitored and that the company is taking action to address these impacts. However, it appears that the ISO 14001 certification does not do an effective job of pushing companies to improve their environmental management programs. In fact, there seems to be almost no difference between a company with and without the certification. This certification smells a little fishy, an indicator that greenwashing may be taking place. Despite the unreliability of the ISO 14001 certification, L’occitane does seem to value sustainability as they make effort to work with environmental organizations as well as emphasize their never-ending efforts to become more sustainable.