Condiment, snacks processor pledges 20pc carbon reduction

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Carbon dioxide

Mustard maker Reckitt Benckiser pledged this month to reduce its
carbon footprint by 20 per cent by 2020, outlining what it calls a
complete supply chain analysis of its CO2 emissions throughout a
product's lifecycle.

The UK-based company, producer of mustards, household and personal care goods, joins a wave of companies attempting to portray themselves as environmentally friendly - and also follow tough greenhouse gas reduction targets being set by EU governments. The 20 per cent target set by Reckitt Benckiser is in line with EU and UK targets, currently coming down the corporate pipeline of issues to deal with. Reckitt Benckiser's claims its 'Carbon 20' programme will go further than others by tackling the reduction of CO2 emissions throughout its supply chain. "This 'cradle to grave' approach, across the entire product life cycle, is pioneering because it measures not only the carbon impact of raw and packaging materials, manufacturing, logistics and distribution, but also consumer use of products, where the greatest carbon impact can occur,"​ the company stated. Progress in meeting the targets will be measured by independent experts, verified by third parties and reported annually, the company stated. Reckitt Benckiser will also continue to work with external experts, including joining the Carbon Disclosure Project's new supply chain programme as part of developing a common way of measuring CO2 emissions. The company estimates emissions associated with the products at about 15m tonnes of CO2 equivalents a year. About 50 to 70 per cent of CO2 emissions are related to the energy consumed or embedded in the conusmer use of the company's products, especially soaps intended for dishwashers or washing machines. Raw and packaging materials account for another 30 to 40 per cent of the company's CO2 emissions. Product and packaging disposal or recycling accounts for 3 to 7 per cent, product manufacturing for 2 to 6 per cent, retailer operations for 2-6 per cent and logistics and distribution of products to retailers for 1 to 5 per cent. The company plans to reduce its carbon footprint first through a consumer education programme to get them to reduce energy consumption in the home when using its products. It will also work with suppliers and trade customers to re-engineer how products are made, packaged, distributed and sold to reduce or avoid energy use. For example, the company has worked with supplier Guala to re-design trigger sprays, avoiding the use of about 266,000kg of metal and 38,000kgs of plastic per year. The programme has resulted in a savings equivalent to 613 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, the company claimed. The company will also re-design products to contain less materials, less energy, less packaging and produce less waste. Internal programmes also target reducing energy consumption. The company plans to switch to sustainable energy sourcing when possible. The company calculates that switching 40 per cent of its energy use to sustainable sources would reduce CO2 equivalent emissions by about 28,000 tonnes a year. Reckitt Benckiser claims to have already achieved a 22 per cent energy reduction per consumer unit since 2000, or 15 per cent in absolute terms. Wastewater discharges have been also been reduced by 11 per cent per consumer unit, or 5 per cent in absolute terms, and 70 per cent of all manufacturing waste is now recycled, the company stated. The Carbon 20 programme will re-set 2007 as the base year of measurement. "If the company now achieves a further 20 per cent reduction, this would save the equivalent of 55,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents a year,"​ the company stated. As part of the programme the company has launches a set of what it calls global 'low-carbon' business guidelines. The guidelines contain company estimates, including one claiming that a 10 per cent reduction in air travel would save about 2,600 tonnes of CO2 equivalents a year. Bart Becht, the company's chief executive officer, called the 20 per cent target "ambitious but achievable", equivalent to the reducing CO2 emissions from 1m cars. "This different approach targets more than just the easy wins under our direct control like factory emissions or travel,"​ he stated. He claimed the programme would also result in higher brand recognition among environmentally conscious consumers. "Carbon 20 will create real business benefits for us and our partners,"​ he stated. "Consumers want to tackle climate change and will reward brands that offer solutions. Our business partners want to help consumers while addressing their own impact. Our employees and potential recruits want to work for a responsible and innovative company, and our shareholders want the sustainable growth that getting this right will provide."​ He noted that in contrast to other companies' approaches, carbon offsetting - including the company's own ongoing support of a tree-planting project, - will not count toward the Carbon 20 target. "Consumers want to buy products with lower carbon profiles, provided they do not compromise on quality or performance, and will reward companies that address climate change seriously and realistically,"​ he stated. Reckitt Benckiser manufactures and sells about 5.5bn units of its products a year, equivalent to about 15 million units a day. In addition to manufacturing dishwashing, home care, health and personal care products, the company is a major processor of mustard, mayonnaise, barbecue and hot sauces, and french fried onions. The company's French's brand is the leading mustard product in the world, with a 30 per cent share of the North American market. Frank's RedHot Sauce is the region's number two hot sauce and Cattlemen's Barbecue Sauce is the number one barbecue sauce in the foodservice sector. The company also manufactures snacks such as the French's Potato Sticks brand and Original French Fried Onions.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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