07/01/2009, Düsseldorf




Working together for more sustainable consumption

What is sustainability? How can sustainability be measured in different brands such as Persil, Terra Activ and Somat? When is one solution more sustainable than another? The Henkel-Sustainability#Master of the Laundry & Home Care business sector gives answers to these questions. The computer-aided method developed by Henkel makes it possible to assess whether products and processes are more sustainable relative to a starting situation.

Operating in a sustainable and socially responsible manner is becoming more and more important in view of the challenges facing society today, such as climate change or the limited availability of raw materials. But how can retailers and manufacturers work together in a meaningful way in their efforts to achieve more sustainable consumption? Is there a common basis for discussing whether a new product is more sustainable than its predecessor?

Answers to these questions are provided by the Henkel-Sustainability#Master, newly developed by Henkel for the product categories of its Laundry & Home Care business. Designed in collaboration with recognized experts, this computer-based method rests on the conviction that the consideration of partial aspects in isolation does not reveal the whole picture. On the one hand, products and processes have to be considered in terms of achieving a balance between economic, ecological and social goals. On the other hand, it is just as important to review the entire value chain, that is, the entire life cycle of a product.

When is most water used, for example? And when is the energy requirement the highest? During manufacture of the product or during its use in the home?

The methodology of the Henkel-Sustainability#Master is based on the “three-pillar model of sustainable development.” This means that for sustainable development, all three pillars – the ecological, economic and social dimensions – must be given equal consideration. For each sustainability dimension, the relevant criteria for each case are selected from a set of different factors, such as carbon dioxide emissions, costs, or energy and water consumption.
To answer the question of whether a new product or a new process really will lead to more sustainable consumption, the Henkel-Sustainability#Master takes a three-step approach:

  • In the starting situation, the sustainability index is assumed to be 100 percent for all three sustainability dimensions.
    Social progress = 100 percent
    Economy = 100 percent
    Ecology = 100 percent
  • The second step in the Henkel-Sustainability#Master is to evaluate and assess new products or processes using the previously defined criteria. The assessments are based on life cycle analyses, the determination of costs and materials, and other such aspects.
  • Example: Shelf-ready packaging
    For shelf-ready packaging this could mean the following: The positive contribution in the area of “social progress” (perforation of the carton for safer use, because no board knife has to be used) is offset against a negative contribution in the “ecology” dimension (to achieve the same rigidity, more material is required) and a negative contribution in terms of “economy” (e.g. higher cost of materials).
  • The evaluation process culminates in a sustainability index, which is then compared to that of the starting situation. If the new index lies above 100 percent, the product or process is more sustainable. But if the index lies below 100 percent, the sustainability performance is poorer.

Four questions for sustainability
In the Henkel-Sustainability#Master, the calculation of the sustainability performance of a product or process centers around four core questions relating to the retailer-supplier relationship:

  • Who are we selling to?
  • What are we selling?
  • How do we sell?    
  • How do we communicate?

The Henkel-Sustainability#Master thus makes it possible to conduct a comprehensive and systematic assessment of all relevant sustainability topics across the relationship between the manufacturer and retailers. In developing this new and unique program, Henkel’s aim is to join forces with its customers and retailers and actively drive change toward sustainable consumption. Because for Henkel, sustainability is not a short-lived trend but a business strategy designed to achieve long-term success. We are convinced that sustainability has always been and will continue to be the driver of innovations. Now, with the introduction of its Henkel-Sustainability#Master, Henkel is setting a new and innovative quality benchmark in the market.

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