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For Henkel, sustainability means meeting people’s needs today - through its brands and technologies, and as an employer - without compromising the development opportunities of future generations. Therefore, all of the company’s new products contribute to sustainable development in at least one focal area: energy and climate; water and wastewater; materials and waste; health and safety; or social progress. This strategy is proving to be an innovation driver and is a large part of the company’s innovation processes.
Through the combination of first-class performance and the highest possible social and environmental responsibility, Henkel products set new quality standards. As an example, their exceptionally fast curing, fourth-generation Liofol laminating adhesives enable an unprecedented standard of safety in flexible packages, particularly for the food industry. The newly launched Terra Activ brand of household cleaning products features an average of 85% of ingredients based on renewable raw materials. Henkel’s Eco-Smart refill packs for Dial liquid soaps in the U.S. market use around 67% fewer plastics than conventional refill bottles.
Social engagement plays an important role in the company’s corporate culture as well. It has been a tradition throughout Henkel’s history and continues to be a part of its corporate values and daily activities. Henkel Smile provides the umbrella for the company’s corporate citizenship activities extending beyond direct business interests.
Ecologically and socially responsible actions also yield economic benefits. In fiscal 2008, increased energy and raw materials prices reinforced Henkel’s determination to continue its company-wide sustainability targets for reductions in water consumption, energy consumption, and waste by 2012. The current sustainability performance chart for 2004-2008 shows that the company is consistently achieving continuous improvements in its global environmental indicators. Energy consumption decreased by 11%, water consumption by 35%, waste generation by 30%, and carbon dioxide emissions by 6%. Over the same period, the number of occupational accidents fell by 63%.
Innovative LeadershipIn addition to developing new sustainable brands and technologies, Henkel participated in many industry initiatives in 2008. For example, Henkel is involved in the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which promotes the sustainable production of palm and palm kernel oil. The company is also an advocate of a certification and marketing model for palm and palm kernel oil from sustainable cultivation. Henkel was the first company in the world to purchase palm kernel oil certificates for five of its new Terra Activ household cleaners brand products. Therefore, it is the first company to help ensure that palm kernel oil from sustainably cultivated palm trees enters the supply chain for the production of surfactants.
The sustainability strategy also includes appropriate communication. Extensive materials inform customers and consumers how they can help to conserve resources, protect the climate, and avoid waste by using Henkel’s products. With its promise of “Quality & Responsibility” on all of its laundry detergents and household cleaners, Henkel aims to make it easier for consumers to reach conscientious purchasing decisions. Thanks to the added value that the combination of quality and responsibility offers, they can purchase both better product performance and greater sustainability at the same time.
“Our customers are appreciative of the fact that we rank among the pioneers in our sector with respect to sustainability,” said Henkel CEO Kasper Rorsted. “We are convinced that our continued focus on sustainability will help grow the long-term value of our company. In challenging economic times, it is more important than ever to understand that sustainable development is an opportunity.”
In order to measure the contribution of products to climate protection, experiments are being carried out worldwide to measure product carbon footprints. This involves determining all greenhouse gas emissions throughout a product’s entire value chain. Until now, there has been no internationally harmonized method for determining the carbon footprint of a product. Henkel is participating in pilot projects on this subject in Germany and the United States.
Education for Sustainable DevelopmentIn 2008, Henkel initiated a number of projects and campaigns with the theme “Education for Sustainable Development.” One example is the German Internet portal “Save Your Future,” which enables young people to share their ideas on the subject of sustainability and organize joint actions and events.
In collaboration with the universities of Rostock and Oldenburg in Germany, Henkel has developed extensive materials as a resource for teaching chemistry in schools, including simple, low-cost experiments on environmental awareness in relation to laundry washing. The materials are freely available on the Internet. They have already been translated into English (with other languages planned), and their international dissemination is in the works with the cooperation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Henkel reports extensively on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, and includes all rankings and ratings at www.henkel.com/sustainability.