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Cosmetics Giant Estée Lauder Reaches Net Zero Emissions

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The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. (ELC) is in the midst of its own makeover–an eco-friendly one. The beauty and skincare product purveyor just announced in a press release that it has reached net zero emissions and has sourced 100 percent renewable electricity for its worldwide direct operations. And that’s only the beginning. 

The New York City-based company also noted that it has met its goal of establishing emissions reduction targets for its value chain and direct operations, putting ELC on track to make even greater strides toward greener practices in the next decade.

The targets, which address scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, are certified by the Science Based Target initiative and include commitments to:

  • “Reduc[ing] absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 50% by 2030 from a 2018 base year.”
  • “Reduc[ing] scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased goods and services, upstream transportation and distribution, and business travel 60% per unit revenue over the same timeframe.”

ELC President and CEO Fabrizio Freda said the announcement “signals a new level of ambition and dedication to climate action for The Estée Lauder Companies. Setting ambitious targets in line with the latest climate science is testament to our values and commitment to managing our business for the long term.” Freda continued: “In this decisive decade for climate action, we will continue to accelerate efforts to ensure a healthy, beautiful planet for generations to come.”

The news is especially notable considering the company’s standing as a leader in the cosmetics industry. ELC has a portfolio of more than 25 brands including MAC Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, and Clinique, sold in around 150 countries and territories. The company reported U.S. net sales of nearly $3.8 billion out of $14.3 billion for the 2020 fiscal year ending June 30 and employs more than 48,000 people in the U.S. and abroad. 

The company’s latest environmental announcement means that it has attained the target it set upon joining the RE100 in 2017. RE100 is an initiative of The Climate Group and unites influential businesses around the world that have set or accomplished 100 percent renewable energy commitments. 

“We congratulate The Estée Lauder Companies on their fantastic work to switch to renewable electricity globally,” said Helen Clarkson, chief executive officer of the Climate Group. “When large companies like The Estée Lauder Companies set their sights on an ambitious target, they can achieve huge change at a rapid pace. This is exactly the sort of leadership we need to see in the climate decade, as we work to halve global emissions.”

According to ELC, they achieved net zero emissions and reached the RE100 targets primarily by focusing on the reduction of its operational carbon footprint. This was accomplished by “deploying high-quality solutions and investing in projects bringing additional renewable energy to the grid,” including the signing of a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement for 22 megawatts (MW) of wind energy from Oklahoma’s Ponderosa Wind Project. The project will generate up to 200 MWs of renewable energy.

The company also added to its own renewable energy portfolio through the installation of two ground-mounted solar arrays–a 1.45 MW array at its Melville campus in New York and a 900-kilowatt (kW) array at the ELC-owned Aveda campus in Blaine, Minnesota.

(Melville, NY, Solar Array – Direct source From The Estée Lauder Companies.)

“Both the Melville and Blaine campus operational solar arrays are critical contributors to ELC’s global commitments to reach net zero carbon emissions and 100% renewable electricity (RE100) by the end of 2020,” the company stated.

(Blaine, MN, Solar Array – Direct source From The Estée Lauder Companies.)

Additionally, ELC has bought offsets from the Tri-City Forest Project in Massachusetts to account for any other annual operations-related emissions.

“The Estée Lauder Companies has been deeply committed to climate action for many years and, in 2020, we not only stayed true to our commitments, but took steps to further accelerate progress,” said ELC Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability Nancy Mahon. “At such a critical time for our planet and communities around the world, we know this work is more important than ever.”

Apart from its environmental stewardship, ELC’s Breast Cancer Campaign has raised more than $99 million for breast cancer research, medical services, and education globally. It’s the company’s biggest corporate social impact program and was founded by Evelyn Lauder in 1992, alongside the debut of the Pink Ribbon. In September, amid the coronavirus pandemic, ELC announced that it would donate two million masks to healthcare workers on the front lines in New York. It also shared that it would donate 50,000 Clinique products to New York City hospital staff as a gesture of appreciation.


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