Definitions of the
Green Impact Index criteria
- Active ingredient extraction without chemical solvents:
Thanks to advances in green chemistry, it’s now possible to extract the active ingredients we need to produce a product from plants using green solvents, such as water, and renewable-resource solvents, such as ethanol obtained through beet growing. Some innovative processes even overcome the need to use either water or solvents, such as the “Green Native Expression” technology patented by Pierre Fabre.
- Air acidification:
Air acidification is mainly caused by air pollution in the form of sulfur dioxide (SO2) released through the burning of fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) for industry, transport, energy production, etc., along with nitrogen oxides (NOx) formed during combustion. These compounds come back down to earth in the form of rain—they contribute to what we call acid rain. When they reach the ground and bodies of water, they cause significant harm to flora and fauna by disturbing the natural balance of ecosystems.
- Biodegradable formula:
A formula is biodegradable if it can be decomposed by biological organisms (bacteria, fungi, algae, etc.) in a favorable environment (right temperature, humidity, amount of light and oxygen, etc.). A formula is said to be “biodegradable” if its organic components are capable of being decomposed by 60% within 28 days by those microorganisms.
For dermo-cosmetic products, we study biodegradability in the specific conditions of a water treatment plant, since that’s where most of their residue ends up.
Biodiversity means the diversity of the living species—both animals and plants—found in an environment, as well as all the interactions that exist within an environment and between the species which live there, and, lastly, all the relationships and interactions that exist between species and their environments. An eco-socially designed product attaches great importance to conserving and respecting biodiversity as much as possible throughout all the stages of its life cycle.
- Contribution to the greenhouse effect:
Contribution to the greenhouse effect, also known as “carbon footprint,” refers to the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG), expressed as CO2 equivalent, emitted throughout the product’s entire life cycle. We talk about CO2 equivalent because not all greenhouse gases have the same global warming potential, so this is a way of quantifying all those emissions using a single unit of measurement: CO2-eq. Greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming and climate change: cutting them is therefore essential. For example, for dermo-cosmetic products, we consider a good score for packaging-related CO2 emissions to be somewhere between 0 and 100g CO2 equivalent per liter of product.
- Certified “Origine France Garantie” product:
Origine France Garantie, or OFG, is a trademark created in May 2011, awarded to products that are made in France. It guarantees that the product acquires its distinctive form in France, and that 50 to 100% of its unit cost price comes from operations performed in France.
- Certified organic product (Cosmos, AB label, etc.) :
A product that has received “organic” certification satisfies a precise set of criteria (growing method, quantity of organically farmed ingredients, etc.) drawn up by the certification bodies which award the labels (Cosmebio, AB, Nature et Progrès, etc.). An independent body assesses compliance with those criteria every year.
- Eco-Social Design:
Incorporation of environmental and social issues at every stage in the product’s life cycle (plant growing and extraction techniques, source and transportation of raw materials, packaging materials, industrial manufacture, organic certifications, fair trade, Origine France Garantie (made in France), commitments to promoting biodiversity, and so on), resulting in a responsible design that respects people, the environment and the common good to the highest possible degree.
- Eutrophication of water:
Eutrophication occurs when there is an accumulation of nutrients—such as organic matter, nitrogen and phosphorus—in aquatic environments. In marine habitats, this leads to an overabundance of algae, which feed off the nutrients. The end result is oxygen depletion and an imbalance in the ecosystem which in extreme cases can actually cause the water body to “choke”.
- Extraction of active ingredients as part of the circular economy:
For the extraction of our plant-based active ingredients, whenever possible we opt for a circular economy approach with recovery of co-products* from plants to produce our own extracts, or recovery of our own co-products for another use: resource efficiency that aims to keep waste to a minimum. For example, producing a given active ingredient can generate co-products which may themselves be used as cosmetic ingredients or to produce biofuels, which is the principle of a circular economy approach.
*Co-products are materials produced during the manufacturing process of the main product.
- Fair trade:
A fair-trade product guarantees producers receive a fair price for their produce, and ensures transparency and respect for people and the environment at every step in the supply chain. Thanks to shorter supply chains, producers receive a higher revenue, and are offered the opportunity to play a key role in their own development model. Several international organizations such as Fair Trade and ECOCERT offer recognized standards that control the use of the Fair Trade claim.
- Fair-trade product:
A fair-trade product guarantees producers receive a fair price for their produce, and ensures transparency and respect for people and the environment at every step in the supply chain. Thanks to shorter supply chains, producers receive a higher revenue, and are offered the opportunity to play a key role in their own development model. Several international organizations such as Fair Trade and Oxfam offer recognized standards that control the use of the Fair Trade claim.
- Geographical origin of the materials
The geographical origin of materials means the place where the ingredients used in a formula come from, and it allows us to calculate the environmental impact linked to their transportation from place of sourcing to production site. The closer the geographical origin of raw materials to the production site, the lower the environmental impact for the transportation phase.
- ISO 14001-certified production site:
A production site that has been awarded ISO 14001 certification meets a set of environmental management requirements. This standard provides a framework for controlling the environmental impacts of the production process and is based on the principle of continuous improvement of environmental performance. We have ISO 14001 environmental management certification for our plant-based active ingredients extraction facility in Gaillac and our two dermo-cosmetics manufacturing plants in Soual and Avène.
Boosting the naturalness of our formulas means finding natural, renewable alternatives for petrochemical materials—in other words, those derived from fossil fuels—, making sure that the conditions in which those alternatives are cultivated or collected respect biodiversity. To assess how natural an ingredient is, we identify the resource and its origin before analyzing all the stages involved in its production. We also use an approach to calculate the naturalness of raw materials based on the ISO 16128 standard, an internationally recognized guideline.
- Number of ingredients:
On average, ingredients account for 30% of the environmental impacts of a dermo-cosmetic product. It is generally accepted that an eco-socially designed product should contain no more than 15 ingredients, with the aim of only keeping those which are absolutely necessary to guarantee the product’s efficacy, stability, tolerability and sensory appeal. In order to cut the number of ingredients, we work on the formula, the manufacturing conditions and the packaging to guarantee the product’s safety and performance.
- Organically farmed plants:
An organically farmed plant has not been treated with any plant protection products. Its growing methods respect biodiversity, the renewal cycle of species, and local ecosystems. A plant grown without the use of any plant protection product has not undergone any chemical treatment. An eco-socially designed product uses, insofar as possible, natural-origin ingredients that adhere to one or more of these principles.
- Product registered with the Vegan Society:
The Vegan Society trademark helps users identify that a product is free from animal ingredients at every stage of the product life cycle. The product manufacture and/or development must not require the use of any animal-origin or animal-derived product, nor involve any animal testing. For the Vegan Society, “animal” encompasses all vertebrates (except for humans) and multicellular invertebrate organisms.
- Recycled materials content:
The recycled materials content refers to the amount of raw materials produced through recycling used to make the packaging. A plastic shampoo bottle may contain up to 100% recycled plastic produced thanks to household sorting (the yellow trash can, in France), which enables packaging waste to be recovered and reused. This virtuous circle means we extract fewer of the resources required to manufacture a new product.
- Recyclability rate:
The recyclability rate of a product’s packaging gives the percentage of materials which can be recycled or reused at end of life. For a material to be described as “recyclable,” it must be possible to remove it from the flow of waste, send it for processing in specific facilities, and reuse it in the form of a raw material (methanization, compost, recovery of materials) or product. The extent to which a material can be recycled depends first on users, who need to sort their waste for recycling, then on the existence of waste collection and treatment processes when the product reaches the end of its life.
- Sterile cosmetics:
For people with hyper-sensitive or intolerant skin who want to avoid preservatives altogether, Pierre Fabre group has invented Sterile Cosmetics, the only technology of its kind in the world. These formulas have a manufacturing process that eliminates the need for preservatives, through an exclusive, fully airtight closure system.
- Weight/ volume ratio:
The weight / volume ratio provides a way of measuring the quantity of packaging materials required to contain 1 liter of a product. The lower the quantity of packaging, the better its environmental impact. Broadly speaking, packaging with a large capacity has a better weight / volume ratio and is therefore more eco-friendly.
- Water consumption:
A product’s water consumption means the amount of water used throughout its life cycle: cultivation and extraction of raw materials, industrial manufacture, product use phase and waste processing at the end of the product life cycle. Because we can’t control how much water you use, we made the choice not to include the use phase in our products’ life cycle assessment, so we can focus our efforts on those areas we have control over.