Waste management: striking the right balance

Making sure waste packaging is properly managed and at the same time making an impact in local community development is L’Oréal's dual aim. Focus on the Group's strategies in emerging countries.

How do emerging countries manage their waste? To answer this question, in 2012 L’Oréal launched a survey that focused on six countries in which the Group intends to expand its activity, namely Brazil, India, Indonesia, China, Nigeria and South Africa. The challenge is a considerable one because the authorities in these countries have not set up many systems for managing waste. The result is that informal systems have been put in place. In the cities “waste pickers” collect and sell waste, thus developing a real parallel economy. As Charles Duclaux, Sustainable Development Manager in charge of environmental innovation and reporting at L’Oréal explains, ‘The Group has to ensure that its packaging waste is properly managed. But it also wants to contribute to the development of local communities. We therefore have to strike the right balance if we are not to deprive the waste pickers of their income. Although these people, who form a large section of society, live in extreme poverty and have deplorable health conditions, they have an important role to play in the protection of the environment. We need to rethink our waste management plans to ensure that the waste pickers are somehow incorporated into any future systems’. Hence the need to know more, country by country, about the quantity and types of urban waste, the regulations that apply to manage it, the provisions set up by the authorities and the informal systems that exist.

The waste pickers

  • 3 million pemulung (waste pickers) in Indonesia or 1.2% of the population