The judges at the Environmental Finance Sustainable Company Awards praised L'Oreal's Italian plant for its, "very innovative programmes...for water recycling and conservation" and for its "interesting research exploration into the use of the sludge for a raw material input".
The beauty company says it became a 'waterloop factory' in 2018, meaning tap water is now only used for human use or as a raw material for its products.
To achieve this, L'Oreal partnered with Italian water treatment equipment supplier PIECO to address the issue of sludge and improve the water quality to the level required for reuse.
This included installing an ultrafiltration system, oxidation tanks, and a super concentrator to treat water with a high organic content.
L'Oreal reports that all its industrial water is recycled and, in 2022, it says the installation of the super concentrator improved the performance of the water treatment station. Recycled water use has increased by 350,000 litres per year and the company has seen a reduction in the amount of sludge from 1050 to 700 tons per year. The company also reports improved energy savings.
Simone Targetti Ferri, sustainability director at L'Oreal Italy commented: "We proudly receive this award in recognition of the excellence of our Settimo Torinese plant, which has been a 'waterloop factory', since 2018, meaning a site that uses water solely as a raw material in products and where 40,000m3 of water are reused each year."
In late 2022, L'Oreal Italy also launched a circular economy project designed to use sludge as raw material for the production of paint. The company says it is still in the testing phase, but the results are "very positive so far".