L’Oréal is third beauty giant to invest in Geno’s sustainable palm and fossil alternatives

By Julia Wray | Published: 21-Mar-2023

L’Oréal joins Unilever and Kao Corporation as the venture’s third and final founding investor

L’Oréal has become the third global beauty player to back a venture led by Geno to make biotech-based alternatives to ingredients based on palm and fossil fuels.

The Lancôme owner joins Unilever and Kao Corporation as the third and final founding investor.

Unilever and biotech firm Geno, then known as Genomatica, announced the venture in June 2022, with Kao coming onboard in September.

Combined, the four founding members have revenues exceeding US$100bn per year.

The venture will rely on Geno’s biotechnology platform, which uses proprietary engineered microorganisms to ferment plant sugars that produce ingredients to make sustainable surfactants. 

These new ingredients will be used in a range of L’Oréal’s products.

L’Oréal aims to offer 100% eco-designed formulas with 95% of ingredients from renewable plant-based sources or abundant minerals by 2030.

“We are thrilled to partner with Geno, whose unique approach to developing alternative biotechnology-based ingredients perfectly aligns with our vision of a more sustainable future,” said Barbara Lavernos, Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of Research, Innovation and Technology for L’Oréal.

“By working together with other beauty players, we can leverage our collective expertise and resources wherever our collective efforts can have a meaningful purpose."

“Welcoming L’Oréal to this incredible team of global brand heavyweights signifies just how important and urgent the need is for traceable, resilient and sustainable materials, at scale,” added Christophe Schilling, Chief Executive Officer for Geno. 

“L'Oréal’s commitment further validates Geno's ability to deliver at scale and accelerates our journey toward reducing global carbon emissions by over 100 million tons in the upcoming years by targeting large-scale material markets.

“We're energised to help L’Oréal achieve its bold 2030 goals of incorporating 95% bio-based ingredients for formulas and using packaging materials that are traceable and from sustainable sources.

“This partnership will further catapult our venture's mission to the global scale required to meet strong market demand for sustainable products.”

L’Oréal’s bio-based pledge

The beauty goliath’s investment in Geno’s venture to make sustainable alternatives to critical ingredients is the latest step in its move towards green sciences.

Last year, it acquired a minority stake in French biotech firm and microalgae manufacturer Microphyt.

It is also working with Laboratoire de Chimie des Polymères Organiques (LCPO) in Bordeaux.

The companies’ JointLab L’Oréal LCPO conducts joint research to develop new polymers from biomimetic and biosourced raw materials, manufactured by environmentally friendly processes.

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