Zero-Accidents a goal reached in L'Oreal's Suzhou Plant
Safety is an important pillar in the L'Oréal concept for sustainable development. And thus one of the first priorities concerning all activities of the Suzhou subsidiary of L'Oréal.
The factory in Suzhou achieved a very good result by being able to report the fulfillment of the "zero accident" target both in 2002 and 2003. That means that during the whole year not a single serious accident harmed the health of any employee or put any risk to the environment inside or outside the factory. Amongst the L'Oréal plants worldwide Suzhou presented best performance. Of course this is not simple luck, but the result of a vigorous program of preventing situations, which can lead to accidents in the first place. The SHAP safety hazard assessment program will be further developed in 2004.
The Safety, Health and Environment ("SHE") policy of L'Oréal is based on respect for international and local laws and standards and of following additional standards developed by L'Oreal itself. Employees are encouraged to improve SHE practices and to take part in the implementation of environmental initiatives and policies.
In 2002 the Suzhou plant achieved the honour to be given the "Price of Excellence" as the best "SHE" plant of all factories of L'Oréal worldwide, for the best performance in all disciplines concerning SHE.
How is this accomplished? Some examples: 70 SHE parameters are measured and monthly reported to the headquarter in Paris where they are analysed and evaluated. To prevent the environment pollution, machines in the plant measure the density of dust particulates and microorganism in the air respectively. Every two weeks, technicians will monitor the air quality of the factory with these machines. All industrial sewage is gathered in an underground retention tank before treatment and effluence. All waste is also strictly sorted and recycled, reused or incinerated. The factory meets the company's goal: zero land-fill. Peoples health has priority. Even the chairs of the operators and their postures of carrying are designed scientifically to make sure they are in the best condition while working and thus reduce the occupational injures.
Raw materials made safe
Ever since the company L'Oréal was started in 1907, great importance was attached to the selection of the raw materials used. Today more than 2,800 different raw materials are constantly tested and made better or replaced by better suited materials more than 150 each year.
To support the idea of sustainability, it is advisable to develop the use of raw materials from natural, renewable sources. By now, already 40% of all raw materials by volume are coming from plants. Ethanol, for example, is obtained from beetroot, and cocoanuts are used to produce fats and surfactants. Because natural sources are harder to control than synthetic sources, rigorous testing is needed to make sure that no risk is involved in the use of natural products. Beside natural and synthetic products, materials like iron, titanium oxid or clay, which are commonly found in nature, are also used.
For the rigorous testing an International Safety Assessment Department is responsible to closely examine the toxicological profile of all raw materials and ingredients used. Also the products which are on the market are undergoing constant monitoring by a global network of specialist doctors, which has been operating for more than 20 years already. To add yet another level of safety, also outside international experts are asked for independent risk assessments at all stages of production and consumption.
Careful selection and testing is needed to ensure the quality of products from natural substances
"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)
"A sustainable society is one that can persist over generations, one that is far-seeing enough, flexible enough, and wise enough not to undermine either its physical or its social systems of support. In order to be socially sustainable, the combination of population, capital, and technology in the society would have to be configured so that the material living standard is adequate and secure for everyone. In order to be physically sustainable the society's material and energy throughputs would have to meet three conditions: Its rates of use of renewable resources do not exceed their rates of regeneration; its rates of use of nonrenewable resources do not exceed the rate at which sustainable renewable substitutes are developed; and its rate of pollution emission do not exceed the assimilative capacity of the environment."