Why Gucci’s latest fragrance is made from recycled carbon

Gucci’s newest fragrance,”Where My Heart Beats,” stands out as a unique creation in the world of perfumery. Departing from traditional agricultural ingredients, this scent marks a milestone as the first fragrance made with 100% recycled carbon emissions alcohol. Luxury manufacturer Coty claims it to be a world-first, holding the beauty license for Gucci under the Kering Group.

Part of The Alchemist’s Garden series, Gucci’s fragrance transforms carbon captured from industrial emissions into alcohol, retailing at $330 per 100ml—comparable to other Italian luxury perfumes. Available in select Gucci stores and online from April, its introduction aims to connect with consumers through digital and PR campaigns.

This release holds significance for the beauty industry, which has been exploring sustainable supply chains and low-emission product creation. Carbon capture, a focal point for beauty giants like L’Oréal, has gained attention, but its implementation is still in the early stages due to complexity and cost, coupled with limited infrastructure. Experts suggest that Gucci’s new fragrance can raise awareness about industry emissions, though a significant reduction may require a long-term carbon reduction strategy.

Alcohol is a key component in perfume production, as it effectively carries fragrances and evaporates on the skin. Currently, Coty perfumes use ethanol from various sources such as sugarcane and beets. However, this process has significant environmental consequences, contributing to deforestation in some of the world’s most threatened ecosystems, as per World Wildlife Fund (WWF) data.

In March 2021, Coty partnered with carbon capture company Lanzatech to produce ethanol from waste carbon emissions from sources like steel mills. Dr. Sylvie Moreau, Chief Scientific and Sustainable Development Officer at Coty, explains that these emissions are now recovered into alcohol through a natural fermentation process, making it a more sustainable method.

The complexity of the process is acknowledged by experts. Martin Mulvihill, Co-founder and Managing Partner at Safer Made, a venture capital fund focusing on reducing human exposure to harmful chemicals, notes that combining carbon atoms for ethanol production, especially from CO2, is an energy and resource-intensive process.

While carbon capture is a positive step for the beauty industry, Mulvihill emphasizes its limited impact on the broader climate crisis. Converting carbon to ethanol and reintroducing it into consumer products does not permanently sequester it. Despite this, he applauds the industry for increasing awareness about carbon capture and waste utilization.

Mr. Fan, Coty’s representative, asserts that the impact of carbon capture ethanol on other ingredients’ performance is minimal, requiring no special adjustments to Coty’s perfume creation process.

To assess the environmental impact of Lanzatech’s carbon capture ethanol, Coty collaborated with environmental consulting firm Quantis, which conducted a lifecycle assessment. Results showed that Lanzatech’s ethanol uses less water and agricultural land than traditional alcohol production methods, reducing its impact on biodiversity.

Coty plans to integrate carbon capture ethanol into most of its perfume portfolio, including brands like Burberry, Hugo Boss, Chloé, Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs, and Calvin Klein. While no specific timeline or brand details were provided, Coty remains committed to exploring opportunities to expand its usage.

In alignment with Gucci’s commitment to reducing environmental impact, this collaboration with Coty exemplifies a pioneering step in introducing sustainability to high-end fragrances. Gucci’s Equilibrium Impact report in June 2021 showcased their success in achieving a 40% reduction in environmental footprint compared to 2015, four years ahead of the 2025 target.

Gucci’s recent sustainability initiatives include collaborating with Kering for an innovative platform to enhance Italy’s fashion industry’s circularity. Partnerships like Gucci Continuum and Gucci Preloved with Vestiaire Collective aim to add new dimensions to unsold products and resale. Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer at Kering, emphasized the need for the fashion industry to accelerate transformative changes in production and resource usage.

As Coty continues its efforts to make carbon capture ethanol a staple in luxury perfumes, the introduction of Gucci’s fragrance signifies a significant step forward for both Gucci and Coty in the realm of sustainable beauty.

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