Global beauty juggernaut L'Oreal has unveiled an ambitious sustainability plan for the next 16 years, but ongoing animal testing issues have taken the burnish off the achievement.

The company has pledged to slash water use and waste to landfill, while simultaneously securing one billion new customers.

It is envisaged that by 2020, every one of L'Oreal's products will have an environmental or social benefit.

The improvements in each product will be marked on the package, enabling consumers to make sustainable lifestyle choices.

Among the environmental goals are a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, zero waste to landfill, a 60% reduction in water consumption and a 20% reduction of transport emissions.

Social goals are to have more than 100,000 people from under-priviledged communities on the company's payroll.

Spin-off effects will include the greening of the supply chain, with all suppliers to be evaluated on social and environmental performance.

In the past L'Oreal has come under attack from various environmental groups, including those against animal testing. The company states that currently less than 1% of its safety assessments are carried out on animals, with a stated goal that all animal testing will be replaced.

However the company's desire to break into the Chinese market is going to prove problematic, because companies wishing to sell their products there must submit product samples for animal testing before they can go on sale.

According to figures produced by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) at least 72 animals are used for testing each product.

By James Russell