Leading up to this year’s Earth Day, Kao Corporation, a leading Japanese consumer goods manufacturer and the world's fourth-largest supplier of professional salon products including the brands Goldwell, KMS, Oribe and VARIS, is reinforcing its commitment to sustainability in the salon industry. With its sustainability
strategy tailored specifically to the salon business, Kao Salon Division aims to create real and lasting change, and to support the group's global sustainability goals. The aim is to reduce the organization’s collective impact on the environment by streamlining the footprint of each brand’s product portfolio and empowering salon owners to operate their salons more sustainably.
"In order to limit the impact of climate change, the issue of sustainability must not only be brought into the focus of end consumers," explains Dr Elmar Mussenbrock, Global Director Sustainability, Kao Salon Division. "The professional salon industry can also make an important contribution. As the leading partner of 9,000 hair salons in Germany alone, we see it not only as our responsibility and our duty of care to drive change in the salon industry towards becoming more sustainable, but also as an important lever in the greater context."
Kao Salon Division's sustainability strategy is based on the three pillars of "Products", "Partners" and "People". While the "Products" pillar focuses on more sustainable technologies, formulations, and packaging, as well as on reducing water, energy, and CO2 emissions, the "Partners" pillar concentrates on developing tailored measures for salon owners in order to holistically extend its own sustainability efforts to hair salons and to support partners in making their business, as well as their ways of working, more sustainable. Complementing this, the activities of the "People" pillar focus on providing stylists, their clients and Kao's own employees with the necessary knowledge on sustainability. "For us, it was clear from the beginning that in order to really make a sustainable change, we cannot stop with our products and technologies," adds Dr. Mussenbrock. "The Kao Salon Division and its leading brand Goldwell have always been recognized for
their special relationship with their partners, so it's only natural for us to drive sustainability all the way into the salon."
Small steps for a big change in the salon business
Kao sees the first important step towards more sustainability in the hair salon in knowledge transfer and education. To kick things off, the Kao Salon Division has published a dedicated sustainability section for partners on their website, including tips for reducing CO2, water, electricity and waste in the salon in addition to the specific sustainability goals of the "Partners" pillar. On practical information cards to print out and display in the salon, Kao provides information on its sustainability achievements to date, which, in addition to product innovations also include improvements in the area of logistics. One example is the switch to air cushions, so-called airpads, when shipping items, which, compared to recycled paper, save over 91,000 kilograms of CO2 during transport per year. This is equivalent to the CO2 footprint of almost half a million kilometres driven by car. With a video series on sustainable salons, Kao also educates and inspires more environmental awareness - and shows that sustainability can work well in the salon.
The company is also planning to set up a network of experts to provide salon owners with individual advice on environmentally friendly tools and products, as well as an interactive digital platform to exchange information on sustainability measures. In the company's own training centres, the Kao Academies, Kao plans to also offer training courses on resource consumption and the carbon footprint in professional salons in the future.
Optimization of the ecological footprint
In addition to its commitment to its salon partners, Kao is continuously improving the environmental footprint of its own salon products. The life cycle of all products of the hair care brands Goldwell, KMS, Oribe and Varis will systematically be analysed and improved with a view to sustainable sourcing, water and energy savings as well as reduction in CO2 emissions, in order to keep the ecological footprint as low as possible. As part of the company's 4R strategy (Reduce, Replace, Reuse, Recycle), Goldwell for example has implemented an innovative pouch solution for the packaging of its SilkLift lightening product that uses 80% less plastic, saves 85% waste volume and causes 65% less CO2 emissions compared to the old packaging. With the KMS Solid Shampoo Bars, Kao completely removes plastic from the packaging and also saves CO2 in transport logistics. Customers can also digitally check all ingredients directly via a QR code on the product packaging, which increases transparency.
Kao Salon Division's sustainability strategy is based on the Kirei Lifestyle Plan, Kao’s global ESG strategy. The Japanese word 'kirei' describes something that is clean, well-ordered and beautiful, all at the same time. In the Kirei Lifestyle Plan, Kao lays out its ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) strategy that is designed to deliver this vision of a gentler and more sustainable way of living. By 2030, Kao aims to empower at least 1 billion by 2030, to enjoy more beautiful lives and have 100% of its products leave a full lifecycle environmental footprint that science says our natural world can safely absorb.