History of sustainability at Henkel

Henkel's sustainability strategy has continuously evolved. Since Fritz Henkel started his detergent business in 1876, the company’s  vision was to make people's lives easier, better and more beautiful. From the very beginning, Henkel has taken responsibility for its employees, neighbors and the community. In 1912, a first-aid center was set up at the plant and a full-time nurse was hired. Since 1927, Henkel continuously improved its occupational safety through systematic accident prevention. The introduction in 1959 of regular ecological quality checks for detergents and household cleaners was one of the first steps  to make sure that products and production had no harmful effect on the environment. In 1991, Henkel was one of the first companies to sign the Business Charter for Sustainable Development of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Today, worldwide management systems for safety, health, environment are in place, and the concept of sustainability is firmly anchored in Henkel’s corporate policy.



1876 Fritz Henkel

Fritz Henkel founded Henkel & Cie in Aachen; workforce: 3 employees; manufacture of the first product named “Universal Laundry Detergent” based on waterglass.


Persil was developed as the first self-acting laundry detergent. It relieved housewives of the laborious rubbing by hand and the attendant wear and tear on the fabric.


Henkel became the first company in the chemical industry in Germany to employ a safety engineer, who was responsible for planned accident prevention. Alongside his safety tasks, he sought to improve conditions of work.


Launch of the solvent-free Pritt glue stick and Persil 70. The enzyme-containing Persil 70 was given the claim “biologically active.”


Principles of Environmental and Consumer Protection (since 1995: Principles and Objectives of Environmental Protection and Safety).

More about sustainability
Downloads: Vision, Values and Codes


Environmental protection is included as one of the aims in Henkel’s corporate guidelines.

Download: Code of Corporate Sustainability


Publication of the first Environment Report.

Download: Enviroment Report


Introduction of integrated management systems, binding Company-wide SHE standards for safety, health and environment, and launch of worldwide SHE audits.

Download: SHE Standards


Founding of the MIT Initiative.

Corporate Citizenship



Introduction of Code of Conduct and Business Ethics.

Download: Code of Conduct


Declaration of participation in the United Nations’ Global Compact.

External link:
UN Millennium Development Goals


Definition of the five Henkel focal areas of sustainable development and introduction of corporate sustainability objectives until 2012. We reached our targets ahead of time. More information about the new sustainability strategy you can find here:

Our sustainability targets


Henkel publishs its 20 sustainability report.

Download: Sustainability Report


 Introduction of the new sustainability strategy 2030.

Sustainabilitiy Strategy 2030

Our focal areas

Focal Areas

The well-established focal area concept was complemented by the additional area of “performance”. This reflects our main purpose as a business organization and our value proposition to society: to create value for our customers and consumers, and thus for our company, employees and shareholders.

Focal Areas

Sustainability report 2011
History of Sustainability at Henkel

More details in the Online Sustainability Report

Timeline 130 Years of Henkel