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Reckitt Benckiser to Cut Water, Carbon by One-Third

Reckitt Benckiser, whose brands include Clearasil, Mucinex, Lysol and Woolite, has set targets to cut its water use and carbon footprint by a third, and have a third of its net revenue come from more sustainable products, all by 2020 based on 2012 levels.

The goals are part of the company’s new sustainability strategy, betterbusiness, which focuses on addressing three global challenges: water conservation, more sustainable health and hygiene innovations for women around the world, and further decreases of RB’s carbon footprint.

RB says it will achieve these targets through product innovation, sustainable operations and enabling consumer action. It is also developing a Sustainable Innovation Calculator, based on the principles of its Carbon Calculator. The new tool will assess ingredients, packaging, carbon and water at the product level.

Betterbusiness implementation is already underway, according to the company, and includes RB’s Lysol Power & Free bathroom cleaner. This product uses the active ingredient hydrogen peroxide, which has a one-third lower carbon footprint than the cleaner’s previous active ingredient, RB says. Hydrogen peroxide is also better for the environment because it is a naturally occurring substance and breaks down to water and oxygen, the company says.

Additionally, RB has changed the shape of packaging used for its Finish brand items sold at Costco. It says that by transitioning from cylindrical packaging to a box, it has eliminated over 7,000 pallets, effectively taking over 200 trucks off the road and saving over 100,000 road miles.

The betterbusiness strategy builds on RB’s global Carbon20 program, which led to a 21 percent improvement in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions per dose since 2007. The company achieved this in 2012 — eight years ahead of its 2020 commitment.

Additionally, RB says its Trees for Change project, designed to offset GHG emissions from manufacturing operations, is responsible for planting more than 5.4 million trees in Canada to date.

RB says in addition to product innovation and development, collaboration will also be key to the new strategy’s success. RB joined The Sustainability Consortium in September 2012 and is in discussions with WWF to develop a methodology to measure the water impact of its business operations and product portfolio.

The company is listed in the Carbon Performance Leadership Index (CPLI) 2012 with a disclosure score of 93 and a performance rating of A.

But an online safety and disclosure guide published by the Environmental Working Group in 2012 gave cleaning products made by Clorox, SC Johnson and Reckitt Benckiser — and hundreds of other companies — failing grades.

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