02/26/2009, Düssledorf


Communicating the value added

Henkel committed to sustainability dialog

People purchasing a branded Henkel product expect the highest quality. However, this is not the only demand satisfied by such products. For more than 130 years, Henkel has been combining leading brand performance with responsibility toward people and the environment. Last year, Henkel launched a broad-based, global sustainability initiative under the slogan “Quality and Responsibility”. Henkel is committed to open dialog in this regard – not only with the community of sustainability experts but with customers and consumers as well.

At Henkel, sustainable development begins with the selection of raw materials. It then continues through product use right up to final product disposal – encompassing the entire value chain. “For us, sustainability is not a mere adjunct; rather, it is an essential component of our corporate strategy,” explains Christian-André Weinberger, Corporate Senior Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer at Laundry & Home Care.

This strategy is supported by appropriate communication activities: Comprehensive information is provided to customers and consumers, explaining how, by using Henkel’s branded products, they can conserve resources, contribute to climate protection and avoid waste. Because responsibility toward people and the environment does not stop with placement of the product on the retail shelf.

“It is important to involve all the market participants in order to promote sustainable development at every level – especially if we want to make substantial progress toward climate protection,” continues Weinberger.

Henkel involved in national and international initiatives
Because sustainable development can only be achieved if everyone is involved, Henkel is engaged in various pan-European initiatives and organizations such as the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (A.I.S.E.). Indeed, Henkel was the first company to sign the “A.I.S.E. Charter for Sustainable Cleaning” back in 2005.

The objective of this voluntary sustainability initiative of the laundry and home care industry in Europe is to render the processes applied in the development, production, use and disposal of soaps, detergents and maintenance products sustainable throughout their entire life cycle. And an independently accredited auditor is engaged to examine and certify the accomplishments made in this direction.

Since 2006, Henkel has – through developments in its machine dishwashing detergents – also been supporting the “Save Energy and Water” initiative of the A.I.S.E.. The aim of this program is to persuade consumers to save energy and water during the machine dishwashing process. Corresponding logos on the machine dishwashing detergents, and further information provided on the internet, encourage consumers to choose their more energy-efficient programs.

Carbon footprint
Henkel is also participating in the nationwide “Product Carbon Footprint” (PCF) pilot project currently taking place in Germany. A carbon footprint in relation to a product describes all the emissions of greenhouse gases generated in the course of that product’s full lifecycle, i.e. from the beginning to the end of the associated value chain.

The PCF pilot project is supported by the WWF, the “Öko-Institut” (Institute for Applied Ecology), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the German agency THEMA1, and ten corporate partners from trade and industry. One objective of the development work is to devise an internationally unified method to determine product carbon footprints. The second goal is to develop a product-related communication concept that enables consumers to make informed purchasing decisions in favor of climate-compatible products.

“It is certainly not sufficient to limit the information provided to, say, the level of CO2 emissions arising from production”, argues Uwe Bergmann, sustainability expert at Henkel. It is essential when calculating carbon footprints to include the use phase, because there is an enormous difference in terms of greenhouse gas emissions between a wash cycle performed at 60 and one performed at 30 degrees Celcius. Persil, for example, offers very good laundry power at a water temperature of just 20 degrees Celcius. That means less energy consumption and also less CO2 output overall.

This has also been confirmed by experience gained at Henkel over the last 20 years in the preparation of product and process ecobalances.  Indeed, Henkel has a long tradition of informing consumers how, by using the company's branded products, they can conserve resources or contribute to climate protection. A current example of this is the company’s “Quality & Responsibility” logo. Henkel has been using this logo on all its laundry and home care products since 2008. It underscores the fact that the items thus identified are not just big on performance but are also environmentally compatible, that they help save water and energy and that they are also manufactured under good, decent working conditions. Consumers are informed of these benefits with further detailed information on the packaging and also in TV commercials such as the series advertising "Persil Gold with Cold Power Formula".

Communication with industrial customers and the retail trade
Henkel has developed a Value Calculator in order to make clear and transparent to its industrial customers what advantages specific process improvements are likely to bring.  This tool helps to identify savings potential with respect to energy, water or raw material consumption, promoting the adoption of improved processes.

With the Value Calculator, it is possible to compare a new process stage by stage with an existing one. The resultant benefits and cost savings become apparent at a glance. The basis for this is provided by detailed documentation of all the process stages incorporated within the Value Calculator program, enabling Henkel’s Sales personnel to access and more easily utilize the know-how of its product developers.

The Bonderite NT example: With this product for the metals industry, Henkel has developed an innovative coating process as an alternative to iron phosphating. Bonderite NT offers outstanding corrosion protection and exhibits qualitative, ecological and economic advantages over iron phosphating. The Value Calculator clearly reveals how this integrated solution from Henkel produces lower overall costs by reducing resource consumption, wastewater and waste disposal costs, and extending the service lifetime of the metal products concerned.

Also new is the so-called Henkel Sustainability Master, a further tool created by the company’s Laundry & Home Care business sector. In fact, it is a Henkel proprietary software-supported evaluation process. Working together with trade partners, Henkel’s specialists use it in order to calculate the sustainability performance of new products and processes compared to the conventional baseline. Through this approach, it is possible to predict both positive and negative influences – for example of packaging forms – during the development phase, and also to evaluate existing situations. The knowledge acquired can be utilized in the marketing of new products or in the development of logistics and packaging strategies. It is also easier to make comparisons between the sustainability credentials of, for example, two different packaging types. This in turn helps both Henkel and retailers to make an informed decision in favor of the more sustainable products, processes and packaging forms.

Henkel provides extensive information on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, plus all the relevant rankings and ratings, on its website www.henkel/com/sustainability.