"Green Cup" Half a million school children as winners
Little visitors at the L'Oreal Suzhou Plant
Companies have responsibilities also outside their factory gates. Educating society, especially children about environmental issues is one way to improve the awareness of future generations.
One of the Chinese subsidiaries of L'Oréal company, Beautycos International, is located in Suzhou, a city where the fast economic development has led to a deterioration of the environmental quality of this famous beauty spot of China.
To help for a better environmental situation not only within the factory, but also in the city, Beautycos established strong relations with local schools, resulting in many activities like collecting used batteries and other cleaning-up activities.
From starting to work with the 4,500 pupils of the Pingjiang Primary school in 2002, who published there own “Green” newspaper and started the collection of used batteries, Beautycos was given the honour to be the sole supporter of the "Green Action" of the Young Pioneers of Suzhou in 2003.
550,000 pupils from all schools in Suzhou took part in the "Green Cup" organised that year, which resulted in major improvements of the quality of air and water in the city. 4,000 kg of used batteries were collected for recycling, many waterways and canals were cleaned up and sustainable long-term measures put into place to guarantee the lasting of the quality improvements.
Companies need to take pre-emptive actions
Harmful substances can enrisk well-being and sustainable development. Modern companies do not wait for governments to develop laws and restrictions, but organise pre-emptive approaches as soon as any risk becomes known.
When for instance the first scientific data on the potential hazards associated with the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United Kingdom became available, L'Oréal took immediate action. Even with first results of experts reassuringly stating that no current threat was visible, all suppliers of bovine extracts were asked to provide certificates of origin and production processes. Already in 1992, four years before regulations made in compulsory, all ingredients derived from organs defined as high risk by the World Health Organisation were eliminated from formulas used by L'Oréal.
Another example is the use of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which are seen as harmful for the ozone layer of our planet. Since 1989, in L'Oréal products no CFCs were used anymore as aerosol propellants, five years before the European Union issued regulations for the phasing out of the use of CFCs.
"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." This is the most common definition. It was reached by the "Brundtland Commission" under the leadership of Gro Harlem Brundtland in 1987.
"Sustainable development involves the simultaneous pursuit of economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity. Companies aiming for sustainability need to perform not against a single, financial bottom line but against the triple bottom line."
This is a definition by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)