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Reckitt Benckiser Reduces Total Carbon Footprint by 11 Percent in 2010

Company reaches halfway mark on carbon reduction target in year two, with aim of 20 percent reduction by 2020

Submitted by: Reckitt Benckiser (RB)

Categories: Sustainability, Environment

Posted: Jan 12, 2011 – 09:16 AM EST


PARSIPPANY, N.J., Jan. 12 /CSRwire/ - /PRNewswire/ - Reckitt Benckiser (RB) plc, a world leader in household, health and personal care (with U.S. headquarters in Parsippany, NJ) and parent of Clearasil, Lysol, Woolite and other iconic brands, today announced that the expulsion of over 3 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) was avoided last year by an 11 percent reduction per unit dose in the carbon impact across its products' lifecycle - the same impact as taking nearly 1 million cars off the road. This key milestone is a crucial part of RB's "Carbon20" program, which aims to reduce its products' impact on climate change by 20 percent by 2020.

This cut in carbon emissions per unit dose of 11 percent means the company has already achieved half of the program's goal in only its second year. Launched in 2007, Carbon20 goes beyond targeting the easy wins of energy reduction in factories and travel. It targets reductions of the much larger carbon emissions embedded in raw and packaging materials from suppliers, and in consumers' use and disposal of the company's products. Carbon20 also targets the climate change impact of the overall lifecycle of RB products. RB globally manufactures and sells approximately 6 billion consumer products a year, equivalent to over 16 million products a day.

RB was one of the first champions of this total carbon footprint approach. Working with external consultants over several years, RB has established an independently-assured methodology to analyze the total carbon lifecycle of its products, and has been targeting activities (both within its own supply chain and manufacturing), as well as engaging consumers to change their behavior and adopt lower-carbon routines.

"Focusing on climate change is right for our business, right for our industry, and right for society," said Bart Becht, Chief Executive Officer of Reckitt Benckiser plc. "Our Carbon20 program establishes ambitious targets for RB, and I'm pleased that we are on track to exceed them. However, much remains to be done in the realm of combating climate change, and RB will not rest in our quest to drive progress."

Summary - Key Facts

  • RB manufactures and sells approximately 6 billion consumer products a year, equivalent to over 16 million products a day.

  • 3 million tons of CO2 were avoided by an 11 percent per unit dose reduction in the products' lifecycle in the program's second year. This is comparable to the CO2 impact of:

    • 900,000 medium sized family cars

    • 500,000 households

  • The major contributors to these carbon emissions are energy consumed or embedded in the following elements of the supply and consumption chain "from cradle to grave:"

    • Consumer use of products, particularly where this involves using machines such as dishwashers or washing machines (70%)

    • Raw and packaging materials (21%)

    • Product and packaging disposal/recycling (3.5%)

    • Retailer operations (2.5%)

    • Product manufacturing (1.5%)

    • Logistics and distribution of products to retailers (1.5%)

About Reckitt Benckiser (RB)
Reckitt Benckiser (RB) is a world leader in household, health and personal care.

It is a FTSE top 25 company and since 2000 net revenues have doubled and the market cap has quadrupled. Today it is the global No 1 or No 2 in the majority of its fast-growing categories, driven by an exceptional rate of innovation - typically about 35% of net revenue comes from innovations launched in the prior 3 years. It has a strong portfolio led by 19 global powerbrands which are: Finish, Lysol, Dettol, Vanish, Woolite, Durex, Calgon, Airwick, Harpic, Bang, Mortein, Veet, Nurofen, Clearasil, Strepsils Gaviscon, Mucinex, Scholl and French's, and they account for 70% of net revenue.

RB people are at the heart of the company's success. They have an intense drive for progress and action and a desire to outperform wherever they focus, including in CSR where the company has the most ambitious corporate responsibility program in the industry through its Carbon20 initiative.

Headquartered in the United Kingdom, the company employs about 25,000 people worldwide, with operations in over 60 countries and sales in almost 200 countries.

For more information visit

Major contributors to the success of Carbon20 have been programs to:

  • Educate and enable consumers to reduce energy consumption in the home when using RB products. For example, the Our Home Our Planet program is an on-package and online campaign giving consumers guidance on how to use products in a more green way. For example, switching 50 percent of European households currently using 140/149 degrees F cycles to the "eco" or 122/131 degrees F cycle on the dishwasher. This can save 338,000 tons of CO2 equivalents a year, equal to the emissions of almost 100,000 medium-sized family cars.

  • Cooperation with suppliers and trade customers to reengineer the making, packaging, distributing and selling of products to reduce or avoid energy use.

  • Redesigning products to use fewer materials, less energy, less packaging and less waste.

  • Moving a number of factories and plants to combined heat and power energy systems, as well as installing solar powered lighting and water heating, enabling the company to reduce its factories' carbon impact by 20 percent in absolute terms over the past 8 years.

Offsetting not included
In contrast to some other companies' approaches, carbon offsetting - including the company's own ongoing carbon offset project Trees for Change ( - is NOT counted towards the Carbon20 target.

Rationale for the Program
builds on the substantial progress RB has already made in reducing its direct carbon emissions and represents a radical step in its commitment and contribution to a greener planet.

The company believes that by being ambitious and innovative in addressing climate change, there are clear business benefits, as well as social and environmental benefits, such as:

  • 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

  • Retailers want to help consumers in reducing carbon emissions, want to address their own carbon profiles and want to work with companies that help them address these objectives

  • Suppliers want to work with responsible businesses, and are also seeking to reduce their impact on climate change

  • People want to work for a company that acts responsibly in addressing major social and environmental concerns. A real and effective program to address climate change increases employee engagement with the company and will help to attract and recruit future talent

  • Government and regulators both need and want businesses to address climate change in order to help society achieve carbon reduction

Measurement and verification
RB's measurement system has been developed in conjunction with environmental consultancy, URS and is in line with the British Standard Institute's carbon footprinting specification PAS 2050: 2008. The Carbon20 methodology is externally verified by Deloitte LLP.

RB's track record on sustainability
RB has made good progress on reducing its overall environmental impact for several years and has had a particular emphasis on climate change since 2000.

Achievements since 2000 include:

  • Energy use has been reduced by 37% per consumer unit (23% in absolute terms)

  • CO2 equivalent in manufacturing energy reduced by 35% per consumer unit (20% in absolute)

  • Wastewater discharges have been reduced by 37% per consumer unit (23% in absolute terms)

  • 70% of all manufacturing waste is now recycled

  • Hazardous waste has been reduced by 60% per consumer unit (51% in absolute terms)

  • Ingredients voluntarily removed from product formulas globally exceeding regulatory requirements

  • 27% of manufacturing energy comes from highly efficient CHP (Combined Heat & Power) energy

  • RB's own carbon offsetting program is currently planting over 4 million trees in 9.6 square miles of deforested land in Canada, offsetting emissions, making it a carbon neutral manufacturer

  • RB is instrumental in the Europewide initiative, encouraging dishwasher users to switch to lower energy and less water intensive dishwasher cycles

  • RB has moved its corporate HQ and North America R&D center to green energy tariffs

  • RB is a member of Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change (CLG).

RB is intent on delivering its products in a sustainable and responsible way. For further details about sustainability performance, go to, which features the 2008 Sustainability Report.

For more information, please contact:

Sabrina Michaeli Porter Novelli for RB
Phone: +1-212-601-8163


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