Colgate-Palmolive beat goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and water use by five and 25 percent from 2002 to 2010, achieving reductions of 7.8 percent and 34.6 percent respectively, according to its 2011 sustainability report.
In that time the company also beat a five percent energy reduction goal, cutting energy use by 8.6 percent, and a goal of a 15 percent reduction in wastewater loading, defined as chemical oxygen demand (COD), with an 18.8 percent cut.
On a per-ton basis, it cut manufacturing-related water use by 44 percent, and wastewater loading by 31 percent.
The report says that globally, 52 percent of Colgate sites reuse or recycle water in some way. In the U.S., a reverse osmosis process has saved 14 million gallons a year and a “smart” irrigation system is saving 9.4 million?gallons a year. In Brazil, the company initiated an inspection and testing program to identify and correct water leaks. In Brazil, Greece and Mexico it has used treated wastewater to water landscaping in the community, and in Australia it modified cleaning and sanitizing procedures to reduce fresh water consumption.
The company used the Global Water Tool developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to perform a geographical water risk assessment of facilities and engage 18 key suppliers in to gain a better understanding of their potential water risks.
It also conducted a global site survey to better understand how sites around the world were addressing water-related risks and opportunities, and initiated use of the Global Environmental Management Initiative water sustainability planner to conduct water management risk assessments at seven of its largest manufacturing facilities, accounting for more than 35 percent of its global production volumes. Analysis is underway, and findings will be communicated at a later date, the company says.
In 2010, Colgate withdrew 7.9 billion cubic meters of water from municipal and groundwater sources, and improved water use efficiency four percent from 2009, lowering use from 1.15 to 1.10 cubic meters per ton of product. Wastewater COD fell from 2.63 to 2.61 kg per ton of product.
The company now has targets of cutting water consumption in manufacture by 40 percent, versus 2005 levels, by 2015. It also has goals of working with local and global organizations to help promote access to clean water, and promoting water conservation awareness among its more than two billion consumers.
From 2002 to 2010, on a per-ton basis, Colgate-Palmolive cut manufacturing-related greenhouse gas emissions by 21 percent. In 2010 it improved energy efficiency from 0.415 to 0.411 kWh per 1,000 tons of product.
But absolute CO2 emissions rose from 641,000 in 2009 to 665,000 metric tons in 2010. The company did not offer an explanation for the rise, though it did report that net sales were up from $15.3 billion to $15.6 billion.
The company did not offer details of any manufacturing efficiency projects undertaken. But it did say that it has been using on-site cogeneration units to provide heat and power at three facilities in Italy, Mexico and the U.S., and is assessing renewable energy sources including on-site wind and solar generation, power purchase agreements and carbon credits.
Colgate-Palmolive said that it has realigned its European distribution network, resulting in almost 15 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions and over $2.3 million in savings from 2008 to 2010. In Europe efforts have focused on increased use of intermodal transportation, and in both Europe and the U.S., Colgate has increased the percentage of goods transported via ships and trains.
In the U.S. in 2009, it opened a distribution center in what it calls a “strategic location,” resulting in one million fewer miles travelled each year and over $1.8 million in annual savings. Colgate says it also avoided over $2.8 million in fuel costs from 2007 through 2010 through involvement in the U.S. EPA SmartWay Partnership.
In 2011, Colgate invited its top 60 contract manufacturers and raw material, packaging and logistics suppliers to participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration Project, by setting energy reduction targets and disclosing greenhouse gas emissions. The company now has a goal for 70 percent of suppliers responding to the CDP supply chain survey to set an energy reduction target.
It is also targeting a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption and carbon emissions per unit of production by 2015. The baseline year is 2005 for energy consumption, and for carbon emissions the baseline is set at 2008 for Europe and delivery of Hill’s Science Diet products; 2010 for U.S. and Hill’s replenishment; 2011 for greater Asia; and 2013 for South Pacific and Africa.
The company has also set a goal of reducing waste to landfill per ton of product manufactured by 15 percent from 2010 to 2015. To help track progress against this goal, Colgate launched a data collection tool for various types of solid waste in 2010.
The company originally had a goal of sourcing 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil by 2011, but has pushed this back to 2015 due to a lack of availability. It has implemented an audit program requiring tallow suppliers to certify that they follow requirements set forth by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), because of concern that tallow sourcing from beef is leading to Amazon rainforest clearance.
According to the report, Colgate’s environmental incidents – defined as site-related spills or accidental releases that reach a water body, groundwater or soils, or affect a third party – fell from two in 2009 to zero in 2010. In that time notices of violation fell from seven to two, and environmental fines fell from $1,000 to zero.