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Seventh Generation CSR Report: Carbon Emissions Down 7%

Seventh Generation has reduced its carbon emissions seven percent in 2009, and employee carbon footprints have decreased 13 percent between 2005 and 2009, according to the company’s Corporate Consciousness Report for 2009. The household and personal care product manufacturer also has set a goal to reduce GHG emissions in its products 15 percent by 2015, using 2007 as a baseline.

Seventh Generation’s new, decentralized network of manufacturing and distribution centers also reduced GHG emissions per case of product shipped by 32 percent. The company says its logistics changes are critical to reducing its normalized GHG 80 percent by 2050. The company’s GHG emissions also dropped 49 percent, normalized to sales, from its 2005 baseline.

The report also highlights several product milestones, which include bringing the post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic content of three product bottles up to 90 percent, purchasing sustainable palm oil credits, launching a line of botanical disinfecting cleaners, and eliminating traces of 1,4-dioxane byproducts from its dish liquid and laundry detergents.

However, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus recently recommended that Seventh Generation either modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for the company’s household cleaning and laundry products.

Seventh Generation also announced a new set of company-wide sustainability goals, which call on the company to reduce its virgin plastic use in packaging by 80 percent by 2014, obtain 100 percent of its palm oil from sustainable sources by 2012, and ensure that the materials and ingredients used in all products come from 100 percent renewable plant and mineral sources that ensure compostability and/or biodegradability in marine environments by 2015.

The company also set goals to have virgin pulp sourced by the company FSC certified by 2015, cut solid waste from products and packaging 25 percent by 2015, 100 percent of value chain water use sustainable by 2020, and obtain 100 percent of the heaquarter’s electricity demands from renewable sources.

The company also plans to set benchmarks for human health on its product scorecard in 2010 and meet these benchmarks for cleaners by 2014, as well as identify and eliminate all persistent and/or chronically toxic chemicals used in the manufacture of its products and eliminate these chemicals in its products and ingredients by 2012.

The company’s 2009 product sales prevented the following chemicals from being released to the environment: 37,000 pounds of chlorine, 160,000 pounds of VOCs (such as solvents and glycol ethers), 1.5 million pounds of phosphates and 5,300 pounds of chlorinated hydrocarbons.

Seventh Generation also made several packaging improvements in 2009. All of the company’s outer packaging are now 100 percent PCR content, except for its baby diaper boxes and the boxes at one of its paper towel manufacturers. The company’s goal is to convert these from 40 percent to 100 percent PCR in 2011.

The company’s total materials use shrank 5.5 percent due to a small decrease in sales and a 7 percent drop in water use, which Seventh Generation attributes to sales of its 2X concentrate laundry detergent.

In 2009, Seventh Generation joined the coalition Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), which focuses on energy efficiency and renewable energy as the least expensive way forward for addressing climate change and transitioning to a clean energy economy.

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