Based in Germany, Henkel AG & Co. is a leader in both industrial and consumer businesses and operates globally in three markets: adhesive technologies, beauty care, and home care. The company is home to brands such as Dial, Persil, and Shwarzkopf and looks back on 140 years of success, employing 50,000 people worldwide. Henkel’s most defining feature, however, is its dedication to sustainability.
“Maintaining a balance between economic success, protection of the environment, and social responsibility has been fundamental to our corporate culture for decades”
The heart of Henkel’s sustainability strategy is the motto “achieving more with less”. This means creating greater value for the company, customers, and community whilst reducing Henkel’s environmental footprint. As a result, Henkel has set a landmark target for itself: to make all products and processes three times as efficient by the year 2030. Henkel can achieve this target in two ways: by tripling the value created from the company’s existing environmental footprint, and/or by delivering the same value using 1/3 of the company’s existing environmental footprint. According to Henkel, both approaches will be utilized in achieving the target (aptly named Factor 3). The approaches will contribute to the development of 6 focal areas: Social Progress, Performance, Safety and Health, Energy and Climate, Materials and Waste, and Waste and Wastewater.
Three Steps to Sustainability:
1. Employees: Henkel understands the importance of a driven team in achieving a strategy. The Sustainability Ambassador program seeks to inform and engage employees with the topic of sustainability. Thus far, Henkel has trained over 25,000 ambassadors in 79 countries. Ambassadors are encouraged to work with schools to share their knowledge with students, act sustainably at their sites, and engage in corporate volunteering.Henkel also supports the personal volunteering activities of its employees and retirees to promote better teamwork, allow employees to identify more closely with the company, and strengthen community ties. Henkel prides itself on being “one of the first German companies to include the voluntary social engagement of its employees and retirees as a significant element of its corporate social responsibility policy”. Henkel’s Say yes! to the Future initiative trains sales employees on integrating sustainability topics with their sales techniques.
2. Water: Henkel uses a specialized glue mixer in its production of adhesive technologies that allows it to save 30,000 liters of water per production line. The company’s consumer products are designed to be biodegradable to ensure that surface water quality is not diminished when these products are disposed through the sewage system. Henkel also strives to avoid wastewater, but makes certain that any wastewater produced is treated and professionally disposed. Henkel runs a water usage awareness campaign titled Be Smarter. Save Water. through its beauty care brands to promote water-saving behaviours.
3. Packaging: The packaging of a product is an important selling feature, but is often a source of waste. For this reason, Henkel strives to design and advocate for recyclable packaging made from the smallest quantities of material possible. Henkel has set multiple packaging-oriented targets for the year 2020: reduce packaging weight by 20% in all business units, increase amount of PET recycled in Europe from bottles to 33%, increase amount of aluminum recycled from cans by 9%, and inform a minimum of 300 million consumers on recycling.
Henkel’s diverse initiatives have not gone unnoticed. The company placed 15th on 2017’s Global 100; an annual list of the world’s most sustainable companies compiled by Toronto-based firm Corporate Knights. The firm evaluates approximately 4,000 companies with market values greater than $2 billion on 14 key measures to produce the Global 100 rankings.
Henkel has also received recognition from 15 other sustainability experts, all of which have allowed the company to collect valuable feedback on their sustainability initiatives. Henkel looks forward to pioneering the field of sustainable business, and consumers can expect great things from the company in the near future. In the meantime, check out Henkel’s value chain.