Major companies including Coca-Cola, Ecolab, Carlsberg, Henkel, Ikea and General Motors are leasing chemicals instead of buying them, boosting their profits and benefiting the environment, the Guardian reports.
Chemical leasing — a business model promoted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization — encourages companies to improve their operational efficiency and focus on climate change, water management, environmental pollution and waste management.
For example, in regions with scarce freshwater resources, service companies have a greater incentive to cut their processes’ water use.
A UNIDO study also finds companies that consume more than 2.6 million metric tons of chemicals per year could save up to 1.2 million metric tons of solvents and cleaning agents by leasing chemicals, and reduce waste and emissions by more than 100,000 metric tons per year. They could also see energy savings of at least 300,000 metric tons of CO2e, and economic benefits could total more than $160 million annually.
The Guardian reports beer manufacturer Carlsberg, for the last five years, has scaled its chemical use based on the price of chemicals per hectolitre of beer produced. By using this model with its suppliers, the company says it has reduced its energy, water and chemical usage in all areas.
In 2012 Coca-Cola contracted Ecolab to improve its chemical use in three processes — lubricating the bottling conveyors, cleaning equipment surfaces and washing bottles — in Coke’s Serbian operations. Payment was based on the number of packed products that the operations shipped out, not the quantity of chemicals used. UNIDO estimates the project’s economic savings at about $73,900 per year since it began in January 2013.
Earlier this month organizations including Target, Staples, Kaiser Permanente and the US Green Building Council launched the Chemical Footprint Project, a metric for publicly benchmarking corporate chemicals management and profiling leadership companies.