Henkel on track to triple resource efficiency

German consumer-chemicals company Henkel is on track to triple its resource efficiency in terms of business value created by 2030, according to the firm's latest Sustainability Report.

Henkel – whose products include Persil and Pritt Stick – set the ambitious goal back in 2010, necessitating a 5% efficiency improvement every year. And the company has already surpassed interim 2015 targets in four of five categories (detailed below).

By the end of 2014, Henkel saw improvements of 20% in energy efficiency, 19% in water use and 18% in waste volume (22% excluding construction and demolition waste). Total emissions also decreased by 19%, despite net production rising by 6%.

The company – which has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices every year since 1999 – said: “We can triple the value we create while leaving the footprint at the same level, or we can reduce the environmental footprint to one third of today’s level while delivering the same value.

“Henkel’s clear Sustainability Strategy has proven highly effective, enabling us to reach four out of five interim targets one year ahead of schedule,” said Kathrin Menges, executive vice president of human resources and chair of Henkel’s sustainability council.

“Our employees play a key role in achieving these successes and we will continue to rely on their commitment and expertise to drive further progress.”

Five interim targets for 2015

An integral part of the energy efficiency upgrade was a global internet-based energy measurement system, which enables Henkel to track energy use in real time. This helped identify areas for improvement, and in 2014 the business implemented energy recovery and efficiency programs that will lead to carbon dioxide savings of 20,000 metric tons per year. 

Similarly, a cosmetics plant in Pennsylvania USA, installed active skylights to reduce energy consumption and illuminate production areas with natural light. The system uses a satellite controller to track the position of the sun and an array of mirrors to ensure proper lighting, even in winter months.

Waste and water

One water efficiency programme at a cosmetics production site in Maribor, Slovenia, saw the installation of a new system that reuses process water for cleaning purposes. By collecting the process water in tanks and warming it through heat-recovery measures, the plant saves up to 7,000 cubic meters of fresh water and 200,000kWh of energy per year.

On waste, to reach a goal of using 100% recycled packaging material by the end of 2015, Henkel added a clause to their supplier contract specifications that stipulates that future suppliers only deliver materials that meet the 100% recycled criteria. 

The company’s commitment to sustainable use of raw materials is exemplified by a commitment to zero-net deforestation by 2020 and a pledge to only purchase sustainably cultivated palm-oil

Henkel’s progress on sustainability targets (since 2004)

Brad Allen

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