07/01/2009, Düsseldorf


Focus on the entire product life cycle


Responsibility all along the line

Sustainability is more than environmental protection and social engagement. At Henkel, sustainable development starts with the selection of the raw materials for its branded products, involves manufacturing, distribution and communication, and takes the use phase and disposal into account as well, thus encompassing the entire value chain. At an information event on July 1, experts used practical examples to demonstrate how the company exercises its responsibility in its Laundry & Home Care business and why this is so important, especially in challenging times.

Sustainability is not just a question of supporting individual social projects and making charitable donations. It goes a lot further, looking at issues such as where the raw materials for the products are sourced and how much energy is used to produce them, how much energy is consumed during product use, and whether the ingredients are biodegradable. At an information event on July 1, Henkel experts showed how the principle of sustainability is applied throughout all stages of the product life cycle in line with the “Quality & Responsibility” initiative of the Laundry & Home Care business. “Our ambition is to set a new quality benchmark in the marketplace and take the lead in sustainability in the markets we serve," says Dr. Friedrich Stara, Executive Vice President Laundry & Home Care, who is responsible for Henkel’s global Laundry & Home Care business. “For our laundry and home care brands sustainability is an key innovation driver and makes an essential contribution to ensuring the future viability of our company.”

Example: Raw materials
Henkel has been using ingredients based on renewable raw materials for many years. One example is the ingredients for washing-active substances – the surfactants. These can be manufactured from palm kernel oil. Here, Henkel has been involved since 2003 in the Round Table on Sustainable Palmoil (RSPO). In order to promote a Book & Claim system for palm kernel oil from sustainable cultivation, Henkel became the first company in the world to purchase certificates for the products of its Terra Activ brand. The ingredients of the Terra Activ cleaner range are based up to 85 percent on renewable raw materials.

Example: Production and distribution
Based on the 2007 levels, Henkel has set itself the target for 2012 of reducing the energy consumption per metric ton of output by 15 percent and water consumption by ten percent. The volume of waste is also to be cut by ten percent. This can only be done through highly efficient production operations. At all sites, experts therefore regularly improve the facilities and searching for new ways to conserve resources. For example, a new technology for compressed air generation and use helped the site at Vienna, Austria, to reduce its energy consumption by some 45 percent.

Example: Use phase
In the overall life cycle of many Henkel products, most of the climate-damaging greenhouse gases are not generated during manufacture but during the use phase, for example to heat the water in the washing machine or the dishwasher. Henkel therefore continuously optimizes the formulations of its laundry detergents and household cleaners so that even at low temperatures they already deliver very high performance – such as Persil Actic Power, Somat 7 or Somat 9 do. By selecting low temperature programs, consumers can thus help to protect the climate and save money at the same time.
For example, by washing laundry at 30 instead of 60 degrees Celsius, the average savings in climate-damaging greenhouse gases is about 480 grams CO2 per wash cycle. This may sound like a small step at first. But with three laundry loads a week, the savings potential adds up to some 74 kilograms of CO2 per year. This is more or less what a mid-size car would emit when traveling from Hamburg to Frankfurt (400 km). With about 40 million households in Germany washing an average of 155 machine loads per year, the savings potential is impressive.

Laundry detergents and household cleaners are designed to be used with water and are therefore carried out into the environment along with wastewater. The main factors here are improving the biodegradability and selecting ingredients with the lowest possible ecotoxicological impact. Already in 1958, Henkel launched an environmental program to monitor the water in the Rhine river near Düsseldorf. Henkel has also done pioneering work in developing computer-based prediction instruments for the concentration of ingredients in the environment or in finding substitutes for phosphate.

For the first time Henkel offers users an opportunity to follow the media event on July 1 on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/henkel

Henkel AG & Co. KGaA
Head of Corporate Communications:
Ernst Primosch, Corporate Vice President