Despite being a House that is almost 200 years old, Guerlain has always been looking to the future. Sustainability and protecting our planet have been key values to the brand for many years and in 2007, the House recognised the importance of including a sustainable development plan in its company strategy. This is something that has continued for the past 13 years. The plan covers the House’s environmental strategy from product formulas to the sourcing of ingredients, to providing packaging that is better for the environment and much more. Guerlain is truly aware of its responsibility as a luxury brand and takes its commitment to protecting our planet and the nature within it very seriously.
Leading the movement is Chief Sustainability Officer, Cécile Lochard. Cécile took on the role at Guerlain in September 2020 with a goal of deepening Guerlain’scommitment to sustainability by innovating sustainably, preserving biodiversity, acting for climate and creating positive social impact. We find out more about the progress she hopes to make and the ambitious goals for the future of the House.
This is a new role for you – how would you sum up your vision for the future of sustainability at Guerlain?
My vision is to keep integrating sustainability at the core of our strategy. I strongly believe in the same goal that Guerlain does: ensuring the quality and longevity of our creations and savoir-faire. In order to do so and because we owe nature so much, we have decided to focus on preserving the beauty of the world in our own way. Sustainability is at the heart of our products, from start to finish. From sustainable sourcing to eco-design and complete transparency. Guerlain continues to evolve its actions linked to sustainability and requirements to this day.
For example, the iconic Abeille Royale creams underwent a sustainable makeover in 2019. The annual carbon footprint of the jar has been decreased by 44% (565 fewer tons of CO2 emissions) and the water consumption by 42%. Aligned with our eco-friendly vision, the contemporary-looking packaging was manufactured with the use of an innovative Verre Infini® NEO from Verescence, our glassmaker partner. Verre Infini® NEO is the first premium glass made using 90% recycled materials, including 25% post-consumer glass (PCR).
Guerlain has had a commitment to sustainability for many years but what do you believe still needs to be done and what are some of the actions you plan to take to achieve this?
To continue our constant evolution in terms of sustainability, Guerlain has ambitions regarding sourcing, eco-design, transparency, carbon neutrality and solidarity. We are working towards the below goals:
– Sourcing – to source 100% of iconic raw materials from sustainable production channels by 2022 and become the benchmark company in terms of protecting bees across the world.
– Eco-design – by 2022, all of our new products will be eco-designed and by 2021 100% of our new skincare products will be composed at least of 90% ingredients of natural origin and become the benchmark luxury house in terms of naturalness.
– Transparency – by 2022 we will ensure 100% traceability for all of our products thanks to Bee Respect, our digital traceability platform and transparency.
– Carbon neutrality – carbon neutrality by 2028 in order to address climate change and to have 100% of our subsidiaries worldwide be ISO 14001 certified by 2022.
– Positive social impact – we aim to launch the Women For Bees programme by training Women Beekeeper’s in the UNESCO biosphere reserves by 2025 and by 2021, our goal is to have 100% of Guerlain employees participating in our Bee School volunteering day.
Guerlain is a pioneer in its field when it comes to sustainability – how do you continue to keep the innovation going?
Never stop being ambitious!
Can you share with us any of the latest developments?
We recently inaugurated a five-year sustainability partnership with UNESCO-MAB in collaboration with the French Bee Observatory. 50 affiliated women beekeepers worldwide will be trained in order to develop quality beekeeping operations within UNESCO designated biosphere reserves, contributing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The French Apidology Observatory (L’Observatoire Français d’Apidologie) will supervise training, support and hive installation.
This five-year partnership includes the training of 50 women beekeepers within 25 UNESCO biosphere reserves, the creation and installation of beekeeping operations each comprising of 50 hives, technical support and follow-up to ensure sustainable development and a stable business model and measurement of the benefits of the pollination in the local ecosystems. The first beekeeper training program will take place in April 2021, as we had to postpone it due to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the safety of all parties. The selection of future zones within the biospheres marked for 2021 and the participants of the April 2021 training programme have already been selected.
What can you tell us about packaging at Guerlain?
Throughout the past 13 years, we have demonstrated that sustainability is truly at the heart of our creations, as many of them are refillable. This includes our iconic Bee Bottle and our best-seller lipstick Rouge G. Eco-conception is also important to us. Since 2020, 100% of our new glass bottles and jars are made with part recycled material and/or reduced weight in glass. The Orchidée Impériale jar is now 60% lighter and the carbon footprint reduction of the Abeille Royale jar has decreased by 44%.
Of course, Guerlain’s products have a very close connection to nature – how can the Maison help preserve natural ingredients around the world?
Ouessant Island’s black bee’s honey is the star ingredient of our Abeille Royale skincare range. Since 2011, Guerlain has established a meaningful partnership with the Ouessant Brittany Black Bee Conservation Association. To keep up the maintenance of the hives and the actions the Association requires, financial support is the first pillar of this partnership. The second pillar is support for the Association’s research and communication activities. By protecting Ouessant Island’s black bees, we are also protecting the honey they produce.
Tell us a little about some of the recent work involving Guerlain’s bees?
In 1853, in honour of her wedding to Napoleon III, Guerlain’s founder Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain created a citrus Eau de Cologne named “Eau de Cologne Impériale” for Empress Eugénie. The bottle is decorated with bees, his majesty’s coat of arms, and a festoon pattern, a reference to the Place Vendôme column. It is the result of the work of glassmakers Pochet & du Courval. Apart from being the story of the creation of our iconic Bee Bottle, it is also the beginning of Guerlain’s deep-rooted relationship with bees. The bottle is refillable and is a prime example of how Guerlain, guided by bees, combines luxury and sustainable development.
Throughout the years, the bee has been at the heart of many of our creations. The Abeille Royale range has demonstrated the benefits of bee products on the skin for the past decade. Some of our exclusive olfactive creations are contained in bottles with our historical Bee bottle’s shape. Jeweler Lorenz Bäumer designed our exclusive Secret de la Reine’s bottle to open its bee wings when the pear-cut diamond on the abdomen of the bee is pressed. The bee is also a recurring theme in the relationship between Guerlain and art. The “Bee Natural” exhibition took place in 2010 at the historic Champs-Elysées boutique. Fifteen artists worldwide had designed bee-themed art pieces to be exposed.
In the past decade, five meaningful partnerships dedicated to bees and their preservation have displayed once more how committed we are to them. These include our partnership with the Ouessant Brittany Black Bee Conservation Association, a partnership with the French Observatory of Apidology. The creation of Bee School, our volunteering program (our Guerlain employees go in schools to inform the youngest on the fundamental role of bees)And most recently, the launch of the UNESCO-MAB partnership in collaboration with the OFA as well as the inauguration of a partnership with the GoodPlanet Foundation. These partnerships are important to us as we are strongly convinced that protecting bees is crucial for the food security of our planet.
What is something you would like to change in the industry moving forward?
I would like to see priority put on efforts and resources on the topics that will make a meaningful difference collectively. Identifying opportunities for collaboration and innovation within companies and across the industry and setting bold environmental goals that will lay the foundation for resilience in a resource-constrained world. I would like to see an acceleration of industry-wide action to create a sustainable future for cosmetics.
Moving forward how can we shift a greater focus onto sustainability, and do you think it’s something that is becoming more at the forefront of everyone’s minds given what has happened this year?
At Guerlain, we strongly believe that younger generations are seeking greener and safer beauty alternatives and the demand for meaningful products that respect the planet and people was heightened by this year’s COVID-19 crisis. As a responsible House, investing, acting and committing to CSR and nature preservation do not represent a limitation to us, rather an incentive for innovation and creativity. As our consumers grow more and more conscious, our historic commitment to sustainability across our value chains enables us to connect with them, deepen their loyalty as well as our brand’s appeal.
What role do you believe the luxury industry and the beauty industry has in providing for a better future?
The luxury industry plays the role of giving the right example to others.
How do you think luxury brands can help to educate younger generations on topics such as climate change and sustainability moving forward?
As mentioned previously, Guerlain launched the Bee School in 2018. It is an awareness-building programme for children and students in which Guerlain employees visit them to teach them about the role of bees and raise awareness about their protection. Guerlain employees are enabled to do so through Guerlain’s Commitment Day, a day made available to all employees dedicated to volunteerism. Since 2019, our Bee School program has been put in place internationally. Our ambition for 2021 is that all of the House’s employees take part in the programme in May, as the 20th of May is the UN-supported World Bee Day.
What is the motto you live your life by?
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” – Rachel Carson
On a personal level how sustainable are you in your life and can you share with us something you do every day?
First of all, I do not own a car. I also don’t eat meat. I also worked as an employee at WWF, the first environmental NGO in the world for eight years.
Where would you like to see your achievements at Guerlain in five years?
By completing all our ambitions and more!
Describe the future of sustainability at Guerlain in one word?