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L'Oréal Invests in Geno-Led Venture for Sustainably Sourced Ingredients

Published March 21, 2023
Published March 21, 2023
Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

L'Oréal prioritizes sustainability by becoming the third global conglomerate to invest in sustainable materials leader Genomatica (Geno) to develop, produce, and commercialize sustainable ingredient alternatives. Previously announced investors included Unilever and Kao Corporation.

WHO: Geno is harnessing biology to remake everyday products and materials built by and for the planet. In response to the urgent climate crisis, Geno is developing and scaling sustainable materials derived from plant- or waste-based feedstocks instead of fossil fuels. Its technology, built over the last 20 years, now drives materials and ingredients in applications ranging from cosmetics and carpets, to home cleaners, apparel, and more. Geno uses the power of biotechnology to convert plant-based raw materials into chemical building blocks that are key components of widely used materials.

For over 110 years, L'Oréal, the world's leading beauty player, has devoted itself to one thing only: fulfilling the beauty aspirations of consumers around the world. Their purpose, to create the beauty that moves the world, defines their approach to beauty as inclusive, ethical, generous, and committed to social and environmental sustainability. They have a portfolio of 36 international brands and 87,400 committed employees, 20 research centers across 11 countries around the world, and a dedicated Research and Innovation team of over 4,000 scientists and 5,500 tech and digital professionals. In 2022 the Group generated sales amounting to 38.26 billion euros.

WHY: Geno will deploy its proven biotechnology platform, using 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 sustainable products, marking an essential step towards L'Oréal's goals of 100% eco-designed formulas that respect the diversity of aquatic ecosystems and 95% of ingredients from renewable plant-based sources or abundant minerals by 2030.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Christophe Schilling, Chief Executive Officer for Geno, said, "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. 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 energized 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."

Barbara Lavernos, Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of Research, Innovation and Technology for L'Oréal, said, "At L'Oréal, we believe that science has the power to create a better world, and we are committed to using our expertise to drive positive change in the beauty industry. That's why we have made Green Sciences, our new scientific and sustainable revolution, the cornerstone of our Research. 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. By working together with other beauty players, we can leverage our collective expertise and resources wherever our collective efforts can have a meaningful purpose."

Sanford Browne, President of Research and Innovation for North America for L'Oréal, said, "This move not only aligns with our objective of delivering responsible and innovative beauty solutions to consumers but also strengthens our innovation ecosystem in North America. It's a clear signal of our willingness to collaborate with partners who share our commitment to sustainability and reducing our environmental impact to create beauty that transforms the world."


  • L'Oréal prioritizes sustainability by becoming the third global conglomerate to invest in sustainable materials leader Geno.
  • The venture's founding members, Geno, Unilever, Kao Corporation, and now L'Oréal, have combined revenues exceeding $100 billion and marquee globally branded product portfolios that reach billions of people.
  • In 2022, Unilever and Geno jointly invested $120 million in the newly formed initiative, with other strategic investors expected to join the venture to develop alternative, plant-based ingredients using biotechnology. Kao invested in September, joining as a founding member. 
  • In 2021 Genomatica closed $118 million in Series C funding.Leading life science investor Novo Holdings led the round, with existing and new investors participating, including Viking Global Investors, Casdin Capital, Irving Investors, Nicholas Investment Partners, Tenere Capital, and Tharsis Capital.
  • In 2018, Genomatica raised $90 million from Casdin Capital, returning investor Viking Global Investors, and organism engineering partner Ginkgo Bioworks.

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