Clorox Sustainability Report: GHG Intensity Down 10% in One Year
Clorox last year cut its scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emission intensity by 10 percent compared with the year before, putting it halfway towards its goal of a 20 percent cut by 2020, according to its 2013 integrated annual report and associated materials.
Last year, the company emitted 1,060 metric tons of CO2e per million cases of product sold, down from 1,190 metric tons in 2011. On an absolute basis, emissions of each scope fell.
The company counts scope 1 and 2 emissions from stationary fuel combustion, refrigerants, mobile fuel consumption, and indirect electricity in the US. Its scope 3 emissions include domestic product distribution and global employee business travel.
The company also achieved a 10 percent cut in US, scopes 1 and 2 energy intensity from 2011 to 2012, halfway to a goal of 20 percent by 2020. (Unfortunately, the company forgot to indicate what the units are for its energy intensity measurements.) Like its figures for GHG, water and waste intensity, the company measures energy intensity per case of product sold.
Among its major GHG-reduction accomplishments, Clorox lists the retrofitting of all of its North American manufacturing and distribution facilities with energy efficient T5/T8 lighting, and the use of energy audits. (More on this under Energy.)
Clorox says it increased the efficiency of its finished product distribution markedly by moving from truck to rail. Today, 30 percent of Clorox finished goods distribution miles are by rail. It has also conducted network reconfiguration and optimization of shipments between plants, co-packers, DCs and customers.
The company says it recently reduced business travel by 20 percent – it did not give a timeframe for this reduction – and has converted company cars to Toyota Prius hybrids, which reduced fuel use by almost half and cut annual GHG emissions by about 700 metric tons.
Beyond the greenhouse gases whose reduction is discussed above, Clorox actually generates more than 60 percent of its greenhouse gases from biogenic sources, associated with the use of wood scrap as an energy source in its Kingsford charcoal manufacturing operations. These biogenic emissions totaled 927,000 metric tons of CO2e in 2012. These emissions are considered part of the natural carbon cycle and are excluded from reportable carbon footprint calculations, Clorox says.
The company began issuing integrated reports starting with its 2011 annual report, which won the Most Innovative Corporate Social Responsibility Disclosure Policy Award from Corporate Secretary magazine.
The 2013 report itself – available as a PDF and website – is curiously light on numbers, and does little to alert readers to the fact that many more precise metrics can be found on the company’s corporate responsibility website.
According to the website, at the end of 2011, four years into a six-year goal period, Clorx exceeded three of its four goals – and therefore reset its goal period to a 2012-2020 time frame.
Clorox is reporting at a GRI-checked application level of “B+.” A summary of its integrated report from 2012 can be found here.
Over the past five years, Clorox reduced its energy consumption by 15 percent on an intensity basis (per case of product sold) and 11 percent on an absolute basis. Clorox has contracted with an outside bill pay agency that pays all of its energy bills, and provides access to a web-based database that allows facility managers to track and minimize energy usage.
Clorox has installed motion sensors for lighting in all North American facilities, and says it is continuing to expand its lighting retrofit program to all international locations. The company says it completed energy audits at all its North American facilities in 2011, to identify operating equipment and HVAC systems efficiencies, and initiated energy audit workshops in international locations.
Clorox’s general office in Oakland, California is one of only 38 buildings in the US to achieve the LEED – Existing Buildings Platinum certification, the company says. Building improvements included replacing over 1,700 lamps with more eco-efficient lighting, installing a white reflective roof, and installing high-efficiency boilers and water heaters, as well as replacing every plumbing fixture, toilet and urinal to reduce water consumption by over 40 percent.
The company does not say what proportion of its overall energy or electricity consumption comes from renewables, though it does buy RECs to offset all electricity use within the Oakland offices – about 1.4 percent of its total annual electricity consumption – as well as the building’s natural gas use. Clorox division Burt’s Bees “essentially offsets” its Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions, equal to about 0.5 percent of the company’s total GHG emissions, the company says.
Much of the heat from the company’s Kingsford retort furnaces, which turn renewable wood scrap into char, gets used to dry waste wood raw material as well as finished charcoal briquets, and to power steam boilers for other Kingsford manufacturing operations. This use of waste heat reduces the amount of fossil-fuel electricity that plants need to pull from the grid, Clorox says.
The company’s water intensity fell 5 percent last year, from 2.1 to 1.93 gallons of water per case of product sold. Clorox is aiming for a 20 percent reduction by 2020, from a 2012 baseline.
The company says its Kingsford plants in Parsons, W.V., and Belle, Mo., both reduced their water consumption by more than 40 percent, primarily through investments in water recycling infrastructure and replacing water with air compressor systems.
In 2010 and 2011, the company carried out a number of other water reduction initiatives, including pipe repairs, switching from water-cooled compressors to air-cooled compressors, and improved filtration and recovery systems. It also carried out water process mapping and conservation training at manufacturing facilities and put better plant-level water practices in place.
The company’s waste intensity fell 1 percent last year, and by 27 percent over the past five years. Clorox is aiming for a 20 percent reduction by 2020, from a 2012 baseline.
Five Clorox facilities are close to obtaining a zero waste-to-landfill designation, the company says. To receive this designation, a facility must reduce, reuse, recycle or compost at least 90 percent of the waste streams at the site; ensure no commonly recycled items such as paper, plastic, corrugate or aluminum are in the remaining waste; and send the remaining 10 percent or less of waste to a waste-to-energy facility.
Four additional Clorox facilities are also working hard be designated as low waste-to-landfill facilities, diverting at least 90 percent of solid waste away from landfills, the company says.
At its Oakland headquarters, Clorox says it has established a robust recycling and composting program that has reduced waste to landfill by 80 percent.
Clorox characterizes itself as a light manufacturer that produces a modest amount of solid waste, the vast majority of which is non-hazardous in nature. The company says it is expanding its use of third-party recyclers to increase its diversion from landfill rates.
Clorox says that with over 2 billion products sold annually, its greatest opportunity to reduce its environmental footprint lies within its product portfolio, either by reducing material inputs or moving towards more sustainable materials for products and packaging. In the past five years, the company has made sustainability improvements to 35 percent of its portfolio.
The company’s transition to concentrated Clorox bleach saved an annual 225,000 MWh of electricity, 196 million gallons of water, 16 million pounds of paper and 10 million pounds of plastic. The savings cover the entire product life cycle, from raw materials through manufacturing and shipping to disposal.
Clorox also introduced stronger Glad trash bags made with less plastic, which saves around 6.5 million pounds of plastic each year, or the equivalent of 140 million trash bags.
The company says that 90 percent of its product cartons use 100 percent recycled material, and more than 85 percent of the packages that house its products are recyclable.
The company’s Business Partner Code of Conduct addresses the business practices of its third-party suppliers, their parent companies and affiliates in the areas of environment, health and safety, human rights and labor, and business conduct and ethics. The code is supported by site visits, self-assessments and third-party audits with select suppliers.
In fiscal 2013, Clorox expanded its responsible sourcing strategy by more widely adopting an approach developed by its Burt’s Bees division. The strategy focuses on five areas: location, quality of raw materials and suppliers, code of conduct, agricultural/environmental factors and availability.
Last year the company’s responsible sourcing team visited suppliers in 10 countries. In most cases, Clorox visited its own suppliers as well as other local suppliers who provide similar materials, to better understand the entire supply chain of those materials. After the visits, Clorox collaborated with suppliers to create site-specific sustainability plans.
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