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The Estée Lauder Companies: embedding sustainability into product formulation through green chemistry

The Estée Lauder Companies believes in embedding sustainability into product formulation. Having understood long ago that green chemistry is an important part of this approach, they recognized that the principles of green chemistry would play an important role in the future of their business.1

A decade ago, The Estée Lauder Companies began working with external experts to design and pilot a green chemistry assessment and support program. This collaboration helped to ensure that the methodology was valuable to both the business and consumers. In addition, it made it possible to monitor the evolution of green chemistry and understand the expectations of all stakeholders. The early work allowed the company to build a solid foundation to advance its objective of embedding green chemistry principles throughout the product development process.

The Estée Lauder Companies aims to integrate these principles not only into their products, but into their thinking. Their approach to green chemistry is holistic, focusing on training chemists on green principles and practices, establishing internal processes to leverage green chemistry and developing internal targets and objectives to continually advance progress.

Ingredient scoring, ingredient innovation and product design

At the heart of the approach is the Green Score Program, which was developed in partnership with academic experts and officially launched in 2020. The program provides a quantifiable method for formulators to benchmark and inform their formulation choices based on the principles of green chemistry, specifically through the lenses of human health, ecosystem health and the environment. All The Estée Lauder Companies active ingredients and formulas have been assigned a green score.2

Yet, formulation is based on more than combining individual ingredients based on their green scores: it also must consider the interactions among those ingredients. To design a finished product with a favorable green score takes skillful product formulation capabilities.

Accordingly, The Estée Lauder Companies created and piloted the Green Formula Design Framework in 2020 as an important complement to the Green Score Program. The objective is to train formulators on green formula design, enabling them to better evaluate improvements for formulas while continuing to create the high-performance products that consumers expect.

Delivering on sustainability

As proponents of green chemistry, The Estée Lauder Companies has built a solid foundation to advance their objective of embedding green chemistry principles throughout the product development process. Through continuous progress, the company aims to integrate these principles not only into their products, but into their thinking, setting up a future where sustainability and product formulation go hand in hand.



1 The Estée Lauder Companies has been adhering to Green Chemistry Principles, as presented on the American Chemical Society’s website, for over a decade.

2 Excludes ingredients and formulas manufactured by Third-Party Manufacturers. ELC C&S Report 2020 p. 57

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