Consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser has reduced the carbon emission of its products by an average of 11 per cent over the last two years.
The reductions are part of the company’s Carbon20 project which aims to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by the year 2020.
According to the company, whose brands include Clearasil and Veet as well as household cleaning brand Harpic, the 11 per cent unit dose reduction (the amount of carbon produced per unit of product used, one dishwasher tablet for example) represents 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide that was avoided.
“These carbon reductions refer to the life cycle impacts of our products – the carbon emission associated with the raw materials, packaging, transportation, manufacturing, distribution, consumer use and disposal,” vice president for sustainability at the UK-headquartered company Edward Butt told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com.
According to Butt, there are a whole range of factors that have contributed to this decrease, some of which are under the direct control of the business for example transportation and manufacturing, and others that are related to consumer behaviour.
“We have done a lot of work in logistics regarding transportation of our products, getting more products in the same lorry and avoiding lorries travelling back empty, for example,” Butt said.
In addition, Butt explained that the company has been working on raw materials and packaging in an attempt to minimise waste.
“We seek to use materials or combinations that are readily recyclable, and we label it, to make it easier for the consumer to recycle,” he said.
In addition, Butt explained that Reckitt Benckiser is taking sustainability into account when it designs products; however, he said consumer preference is still vital.
“You have to make products that consumers actually want to use, we want it to be something that really works,” he said.
Consumer use phase
However, like many consumer goods manufacturers Reckitt Benckiser has highlighted that the majority of life cycle emissions come from the consumer use phase, in this case 70 per cent according to the company.
Trying to influence consumer habits in an attempt to reduce these use phase emissions is part of the company’s Carbon20 project.
“What we are doing is across key brands globally trying to tell the consumers how they can use them in a more environmentally friendly way…telling them to use eco cycles for example as our products will work just as well,” Butt explained.
However, in order to include consumer use in the reduction calculations change in behaviour resulting from the communication has to be measured, and Butt explained that this usually involves market research and diary studies that ask consumers how a product is used and compare this year on year.