Reckitt Benckiser Pledges To Cut Cradle-To-Grave Emissions 20%

by | Nov 1, 2007

Consumer packaged goods giant Reckitt Benckiser has launched a program to reduce the company’s total carbon footprint 20 percent by 2020. The company says that the “Carbon 20” program will take a cradle-to-grave approach, across the entire product life cycle, measuring not only the carbon impact of raw and packaging materials, manufacturing, logistics and distribution, but also consumer use and disposal of products. Program details are here.

In contrast to some other companies’ programs – as well as its own ongoing carbon offset project Trees for Change -? carbon offsets will not be counted towards the Carbon 20 target.

The 20 percent target (on a current base of circa 15 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year) by 2020 is equivalent to removing the carbon impact of roughly 1 million cars, according to the company.

The company, which manufactures and sells approximately 5.5 billion consumer units a year, says that progress will be measured by independent experts, verified by third parties and reported annually.

The major contributors to the company’s carbon emissions are energy consumed or embedded in the following elements of the supply and consumption chain:

  • Consumer use of the products, particularly where this involves using machines such as dishwashers or washing machines (50-70%)
  • Raw and packaging materials (30-40%)
  • Product and packaging disposal/recycling (3-7%)
  • Product manufacturing (2-6%)
  • Retailer operations (2-6%)
  • Logistics and distribution of products to retailers (1-5%)

The company was recently criticized for ads that said consumers could save water and energy by using a dishwasher rather than washing dishes by hand.

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