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Promoting Climate-Compatible Consumption


Promoting Climate-Compatible Consumption

Henkel – Energy efficiency and the climate compatibility of processes and products are among the key quality criteria of the future. Henkel has long been committed to maximizing energy efficiency in both production and the ensuing products.

Now Henkel is also taking part in Germany’s “Product Carbon Footprint” pilot project with the aim of driving forward the development of appropriate methods for determining all climate-relevant emissions attributable to a product – reliable techniques that are capable of generating transparent and comparable results. The project participants have now presented a range of concepts for calculating and analyzing product-related green house gas emission balances.

The development of cogent and credible techniques for ascertaining these so-called carbon footprints is an important prerequisite for engaging consumers in measures aligned to climate protection and promoting climate-compatible consumption habits. A carbon footprint in relation to products describes all the climate-relevant emissions of greenhouse gases generated in the course of that product’s full lifecycle, i.e. from the beginning to the end of the associated value chain. The members of the federal Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) pilot project have prepared recommendations on how product-related CO2 emissions should be determined and communicated, and these results have now been presented to the public in Berlin. Until now, there has been no internationally uniform method promulgated. Aside from Henkel and other corporate partners, participants in the project include the WWF, the “Öko-Institut” (Institute for Applied Ecology), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the German agency THEMA1.

“We at Henkel have been working for decades on making our production and also our products as energy-efficient as possible, enabling us to make a constant and relevant contribution to climate protection,” explains Christian-André Weinberger, Corporate Senior Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer for the Laundry & Home Care business sector. “And we have, over the same period, consistently provided consumers with comprehensive information on how they themselves can contribute to things like resource conservation and climate protection in the usage of Henkel’s brandname products – for example by supplying extensive details on how to save energy on the packs of Persil and Somat.”

It is this kind of know-how, coupled with over 20 years of experience in the preparation of eco-balance analyses in relation to products and processes, that Henkel has been able to contribute to the PCF pilot project. The calculation of carbon footprints can be an important aid to involving consumers in climate protection. Ultimately, they are likely to indicate how important the usage phase is in the case of many products. This is also confirmed by Dr. Thomas Förster, Head of Research and Development at Henkel’s Cosmetics/Toiletries business sector: “The carbon footprint of a product makes the subject of climate protection more tangible and accessible for the layman. And it provides both companies and consumers with a means of measuring their individual contributions.”

Initial results
As part of the pilot project, Henkel has already completed the calculations required to ascertain the carbon footprint of a heavy-duty detergent (Persil Megaperls) and of a shampoo (Schauma 7 Herbs). By the end of the pilot project, the company will also have provided analyses relating to sealing compounds (products of the Sista and Ceresit brands) and industrial packaging adhesives (Liofol).

The heavy-duty detergent example: In the overall analysis for a detergent, most emissions were found to occur during the actual laundry washing process – over 70 percent in fact. Selecting a lower washing temperature therefore has a significant effect on the overall result. If the laundry is done at 30 degrees instead of 60 degrees Celsius, the difference is around 480 grams of CO2 per wash, based on average consumption values. With three washes per week, the savings potential adds up to around 74 kilograms of CO2 per year. This roughly corresponds to the CO2 emissions of a middle-of-the-range car (160 grams CO2 per kilometer) driving from, say, Hamburg to Frankfurt (400 km). Given the approx. 40 million households just in Germany, each performing an average of 155 washes per year, the savings potential is enormous.

The shampoo example: Here again, a majority of the greenhouse gas emissions occur during the usage phase. The greater part (over 90 percent) of the total CO2 release arises during the heating of the water for showering and hair washing. Reducing the water volume and temperature from 22.5 to 18 liters and from 40 to 37 degrees Celsius reduces emissions by one third – likewise generating enormous savings potential.

 “The products and technologies of Henkel are used every day a million times over. They therefore constitute our biggest lever when it comes to contributing to climate protection and resource conservation. In order to make significant progress on the climate protection front, companies and consumers have to pull in the same direction,” explains Weinberger, underlining the joint responsibility aspect of this issue. “This is why, with our “Performance based on Sustainability” strategy, our focus is on linking the strength and efficacy of our brands to responsibility for people and the environment. We see enormous potential in this combination for driving forward the development of further innovative products and more intelligent solutions.”

For more information on the pilot project and the individual case studies, please go to  www.pcf-projekt.de.

Henkel provides extensive information on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, plus all the relevant rankings and ratings, on its website www.henkel.com/sustainability.