There is an urgent need to reduce the negative impact that the consumer society has on the environment. It is no secret for anyone. Some companies have been working on the issue for some decades already. The l’Oréal factory in Libramont implements innovative and sustainable processes within its production and distribution network since 1994. The production site is specialized in the production of coloration kits, it produces around 200 million units a year, employs 400 workers and covers a total area of 45 hectares. Since 2009, the l’Oréal factory in Libramont has become a role model in matters of environmental technology as it is 100% relying on green energies. Several solutions are put into place in different steps of the production and distribution processes.
A unit of biomethanisation has been installed to provide the factory with electricity and heat. The process consists in letting microorganisms break down biodegradable materials in the absence of oxygen to produce methane. This gas can be used as fuel to produce electricity or to heat buildings. A process like this one not only allows the production site to rely on renewable energy, but it also helps manage waste. The system is currently covering 250% of the needs in electricity for the factory. The excess is injected in the public network and supplies 5500 households. Additionally, this system covers 90% of the heating needs for the buildings and 60 % of the vapor needed in the production process.
Positive impact: 11500 tons of CO2 spared (decrease of 180% in the emissions).
Solar greenhouse (Serre solaire)
A greenhouse has been built next to the wastewater treatment plant of the factory. This installation aims to reduce the amount of mud waste. Indeed, the cleaning of water used in the production process creates mud that has to be transported to a cement plant outside the site. Heat excess from the biomethanisation and solar heat are used to dry the mud in the greenhouse eventually reducing the weight by 75%.
Positive impact: 80 fewer trucks a year for waste transport
The plastic bottles supplier of L’Oréal has been integrated within the production site in Libramont. This completely removes any transport between the 2 factories as the bottles are directly brought into the process thanks to a conveyor belt.
Positive impact: 0 packaging waste and 1500 fewer trucks a year
Reduction in water consumption
Several measures have been taken to optimally use water during the production. The cleaning process has been reviewed, a cooling water loop has been installed and a system of ultrafiltration allow to reuse water in the process much more efficiently than ever.
Positive impact: 61% less water consumption compared to 2005.
Other initiatives have been taken such as the use of shuttle boxes between the various suppliers and the production site. Reducing the waste in transport equipment.
Some people may think that this kind of initiatives are part of a greenwashing process from companies aiming to improve their image. Others believe in the sincerity of the efforts that these companies are making to preserve the environment. In both cases, the implementation of innovative solutions and the proper use of environmental technology are reducing the CO2 production and fossil energy consumption of those companies. That’s why I believe this type of actions will help us to move towards a more sustainable production system.