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They know the importance of ecosystems and soils for the quality of Avène Thermal Spring Water and how sustainable development issues are taken into account in managing our activities. Séverine Roullet-Furnemont, CSR and Sustainable Development Director of the Pierre Fabre Group and Sandrine Bessou Touya, Head of the Water Research Center and Director of Applied Research for Dermo-Cosmetics R&D – Personal Care, ensure that this unique and natural resource is preserved and get involved in societal and environmental concerns, through concrete actions. Joint interview.
Sandrine Bessou-Touya: First, the path that leads to it, protected from any visual or noise pollution. Then, there’s this feeling of being at the heart of the elements, at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, mountain and continental landscapes and climates.
Séverine Roullet-Furnemont: Nature omnipresent. We are in the heart of the Haut-Languedoc Natural Regional Park. It’s like a timeless journey.
S.R-F: I am responsible for bringing to life the Pierre Fabre Group’s sustainable development policy and applying it to the various businesses and brands of the company. This ranges from the development of global strategies such as reducing our carbon footprint, through to the eco-design of products and up to the commitment of Group employees in social or environmental actions, so that everyone carries out their part. The Pierre Fabre Group’s CSR policy is assessed at the excellence level of the ECOCERT 26000 standard, but we are always looking to meet new challenges and open up new avenues. More specifically, with the Eau Thermale Avène brand and the site at Avène les Bains, I bring our expertise, I assist or support the CSR projects carried out by the teams.
Eco-designing products, setting up carbon and waste strategies, or projects to contribute to sustainable development issues such as the preservation of corals, we strive to take action at all levels.
S. B-T: I am responsible for the Water Research Center. The Avène Hydrotherapy Center is the only one in France to benefit from an arrangement like this. It is AQUACERT certified and the Water Research Center is credited ISO 17025 (by COFRAC), dedicated to the control and preservation of thermal spring water. Here we don’t want to simply take the water and use it. We want to take care of it. We must ensure its quality and durability for future generations.
We must ensure the quality of the thermal spring water and that it continues to exist.
S. B-T: Since 2018, we have been seeking the expertise and recommendations of the National Forestry Organisation (ONF) to help us ensure the sustainable management of the Pierre Fabre forest park. This is essential because trees play a vital role in the integrity of soil and water resources.
S.R-F: For the Eau Thermale Avène brand, many initiatives have been carried out on various different elements. I would like to highlight a few here. In terms of products, eco-designed sun care products have been developed and since 2013, 90% of rinse-off products were made biodegradable. We have developed a new active ingredient in a circular economy for one of the brand’s key targeted conditions, namely acne. This is the active ingredient used in Cleanance Comedomed, for which we use milk thistle seeds, the rest of the plant is then used to produce other active ingredients.In terms of the buildings in Avène-les-Bains, the production plant where Eau Thermale Avène Thermal Spring Water Sprays are made and the Eau Thermale Avène L’Hôtel are certified Haute Qualité Environnementale (High Quality Environmental) – a standard for green building in France. Eau Thermale Avène l’Hôtel is also BREEAM certified. In terms of preserving biodiversity, the Avène-les-Bains site is an LPO (Bird Protection League) approved refuge. Regarding environmental management, the production plant is ISO 14001 certified and the hotel is a European Ecolabel.
In manufacturing, we want to be exemplary in environmental management.
S.R-F: In terms of production, the factory, for example, has its own wastewater treatment plant, equipped with state-of-the-art technology. For many years, we have been pursuing an ambitious programme to save water and energy.
In another vein, at the hotel, 80% of the fresh products served are produced within a radius under 100 km.To preserve water resources, we are also leading a pilot project in partnership with a Toulouse start-up: twenty rooms will be equipped with a water meter. For customers who wish to participate in a challenge, each litre saved in the shower will help support a CSR action.
S. B-T: We examined our water consumption and the ways to optimise it: for example, one of the actions implemented is to reduce the mowing of green spaces and the installation of rain gauges that trigger automatic watering. In 2019, we tested the sustainable mowing of our meadows in partnership with a farmer who comes to mow them. We left flowered plots, installed an insect hotel and feeders. Notably, otters have reappeared, which testifies to the richness and the quality of the rivers on-site! And finally, we have always applied the zero-phyto policy on-site.And today, we want to go further by engaging collectively. On the one hand, with the chamber of agriculture and the Regional Natural Park or even the ONF, to work with local players towards methods that are more respectful of the environment. On the other hand, with forest owners, local authorities and residents, for greater protection of forest cover.