Reckitt Benckiser, the company behind Lysol, Durex, Clearasil and other well-known brands, is three-quarters of the way towards its 2020 carbon reduction goal, only three years into the program, according to its 2010 Sustainability Report.
The company’s “Carbon20” program goal calls for a 20 percent carbon reduction per product dose against a 2007 baseline, a drop of 1.5 percent a year. RB achieved a 15 percent reduction through 2010.
It defines a dose as the amount of each individual RB product required to deliver that product’s intended service – for example, one Finish dishwashing tablet, or enough Nurofen tablets to provide 24 hours of headache relief. In lifecycle assessment terminology, a dose is the “functional unit” of consumer use, the company says.
Overall the company’s absolute carbon footprint grew by 10 percent between 2007 and 2010, while product use grew 30 percent. Total emissions in 2010 were 249,500 tons of CO2 equivalent – two percent less than in 2009.
In January RB said it was already more than halfway towards the Carbon20 goal.
The company says it goes beyond the “easy wins” of energy reductions in factories and from travel, targeting the larger emissions from products’ overall lifecycles. This includes CO2 embedded in raw and packaging materials, as well as consumers’ use and disposal of RB products.
Offsetting does not count towards the Carbon20 target, though the company says it has planted enough trees in Canada to make its 2006-2011 manufacturing carbon neutral.
RB said that major contributors to Carbon20 have included programs to educate consumers about how to use products in a more green way, product redesign, and cooperation with suppliers and trade customers to reengineer manufacture, packaging, distribution and sales.
In 2010 RB committed to the A.I.S.E. Laundry Sustainability Project, pledging to optimize its laundry products by reformulating, compacting, reducing packaging and communicating clearly with consumers. Launching reformulated powders in line with the new LSP sustainability parameters helped save over 23,000 tons of CO2e, the company says.
Also in 2010, RB brand Air Wick launched Aqua Mist, a non-aerosol air freshener which eliminates the need for a hydrocarbon propellant. It will save more than 18,000 tonnes of CO2e compared to the standard aerosol product, RB said.
And in North America, the company reformulated Finish to comply with phosphate restrictions, and saved more than 30,000 tonnes of CO2e a year along the way.
It says the eco-efficiency of its products’ entire lifecycle improved by 5.7 percent between 2007 and 2010, in terms of their carbon footprint.
The company says light weighting in North America, most notably on Lysol Dual Action Wipes, Lysol Spray, and Lysol 32oz cleaners, avoided more than 290 metric tons of resin usage and reduced carbon emissions by 920 metric tons. In Europe it changed the dosing scoop for Vanish powder from an injection molded scoop to a thermoformed scoop, reducing the weight by nearly 50 percent and saving about 638 metric tons of CO2.
RB has now achieved a 100 percent non-PVC packaging for all its household products, including such brands as Finish, Vanish, Harpic and Air Wick. And packaging redesign in 2010 introduced an all-plastic trigger on bottles, which the company says will eliminate more than 198 metric tons of stainless steel a year. The plastic is mainly polypropylene resin, and widely compatible with U.S. recycling streams, it adds.
RB’s greenhouse gas emissions from its manufacturing sites fell by 11 percent per unit of production between 2009 and 2010, and a total of 45 percent since 2000.
The company said that improving machine efficiency, insulating pipes and using natural lighting at its Cali, Colombia site increased energy efficiency by 23 percent per unit of production, and reducing heat output in warehousing areas saved 37 percent per unit at RB’s Milton, Canada facility.
Seven of its sites now use energy from combined heat and power (CHP) plants and seven use certified “green” energy such as hydroelectricity or solar power. The company replaced some high carbon fuels such as coal and furnace oil with biomass at its Hosur and Jammu sites in India and Semarang in Indonesia. At Semarang, RB reduced GHG emissions by 59 percent in 2010 by replacing coal with biomass such as rice husks and saw dust.
The company says that common industrial air emissions such as sulphur and nitrous oxides (SOx and NOx) and particulates (dust) are not generally emitted from its facilities, and where present, are below applicable legal requirements.
In 2010 the company used 0.56 GJ of energy per 1,000 consumer units of production, 5 percent lower than 2009. It has reduced per unit manufacturing energy 39 percent since 2000.
RB has reduced water use by 17 percent per unit and waste by 19 percent per unit since 2000.
The report, along with its associated data, is independently assured by PwC. RB’s measurement system was developed in conjunction with environmental consultancy URS and the company says it is in line with the British Standard Institute’s carbon footprinting specification PAS 2050: 2008.
Headquartered in the U.K., the company employs about 27,000 people worldwide, with sales in almost 200 countries.