Maker of Lysol, Woolite Ahead on Carbon Reduction Target

by | Oct 19, 2009

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WooliteReckitt Benckiser (RB) plc, a global leader in household, health and personal care products including Calgon, Lysol, and Woolite, has reduced its total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 5.75 percent per unit dose, or 1.5 million tons, in one year, ahead of its carbon reduction target to cut CO2 emissions 20 percent by 2020. The company says this is equivalent to removing approximately 450,000 cars off the road.

As a result of the 5.75 percent reduction, the company has achieved 25 percent of its 2020 goal in the first year. The company does not count carbon offsets, including its own Trees for Change carbon offset project, towards its Carbon20 target.

Launched in 2007, RB’s “Carbon20” program goes beyond targeting the easy wins of energy reduction in factories and travel by addressing the climate change impact of a product’s overall lifecycle, ranging from raw and packaging materials from suppliers to the consumers’ use and disposal of its products.

RB attributes some of the success of the Carbon20 initiative to educating and enabling consumers to reduce energy consumption in the home when using its products. As an example, RB’s Our Home Our Planet on-line campaign gives consumers guidance on how to use products in a lower carbon way.

In addition, RB is working with suppliers and trade customers to re-engineer the manufacturing, packaging, distributing and selling of products to reduce or avoid energy use. For example, the company reduced by 21 percent (absolute) the carbon impact of propellants in it aerosols in 2008, saving the equivalent of 130,000 tons of CO2 equivalents a year.

By re-designing products with fewer materials, less energy, less packaging and less waste, RB also reduced 70 percent of the plastic in a Vanish brand line by moving to a plastic pouch from tub packaging.

R&B has also transitioned a number of factories and plants to combined heat and power energy systems and has installed solar-powered lighting and water heating, which has reduced the carbon impact of its factories by 20 percent in absolute terms over the past eight years.

RB said the major contributors to these carbon emissions include energy consumed during processes or actions in the supply and consumption chain from cradle-to-grave. These include consumer use of products, particularly where it involves using machines such as dishwashers or washing machines (70 percent), raw and packaging materials (21 percent), product and packaging disposal/recycling (3.5 percent), retailer operations (2.5 percent), product manufacturing (1.5 percent), and logistics and distribution of products to retailers (1.5 percent).

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