Natural tones Featured

7:00pm EDT January 26, 2009

The leaders of L’Oreal USA’s Solon manufacturing facility understand that beauty is more than skin deep.

The Solon plant, led by Laurence Lebel, vice president of manufacturing, and William Yeager, assistant vice president ETNSHE, is part of the 52,000-employee worldwide cosmetics manufacturing giant. Over the past several years, the facility has undergone an expansion and upgrades aimed at increasing its sustainability and environmental footprint. To that end, L’Oreal is making green a color that is always fashionable.

Lebel and Yeager have helped spearhead 17 different projects impacting every part of the plant, from water recycling to lighting conservation to preferred parking for employees who drive eco-friendly vehicles.

Among the projects completed, the plant now recovers heat from its production wastewater to help heat new wash water. The cost of heating wash water without the benefit of recovered heat is in excess of $500,000 per year in natural gas. With the use of recovered wastewater heat, the Solon plant saved more than $54,000 in 2008.

Another completed project helps the plant decrease its carbon dioxide emissions. Waste from the packaging line was previously incinerated, a method with a high cost in terms of both energy and pollution. Now, scraps are collected, drained and shipped to a wastewater treatment plant for disposal, saving L’Oreal $38,000 in 2008.

The plant has also been outfitted with electricity-saving features, including fluorescent light fixtures. The new lighting requires 60 fewer fixtures than the previous set-up, provides 40 percent more light and has saved the facility more than $34,000 to date. The plant also features motion-sensor lights in areas that receive only periodic use, saving more than $700 per year.

The lighting upgrades have been completed in conjunction with other site improvements aimed at increasing the natural light inside the facility. Areas of the production floor, along with a new entrance lobby, utilize large windows and semi-gloss floors to draw in and reflect sunlight into interior parts of the building, decreasing the reliance on artificial light.

The savings add up, both financially and environmentally. Since 2006, L’Oreal’s Solon plant has decreased its water consumption 21 percent, its electrical consumption 16 percent, has reduced its solid waste 22 percent and its cardboard usage 96 percent.