FMCG giant Reckitt Benckiser ahead on carbon reduction target

5.75% reduction in the company’s total carbon footprint in year 1 - and they pledge to share methodology with the rest of the industry to encourage more effective tackling of climate change

Online PR News – 21-October-2009 – – Reckitt Benckiser plc, a world leader in household, health and personal care, today announced that 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 had been avoided last year by a 5.75% reduction per unit dose in the carbon impact across its products’ lifecycle – the same impact as taking around 450,000 cars off the road.

The cut in carbon emissions per unit dose of 5.75% means the company is already ahead of its carbon reduction target, having achieved 25% of its 2020 goal in the first year.

RB’s “Carbon20” programme aims to reduce its products’ impact on climate change by 20% by 2020. Launched in 2007, the approach is different in that it goes beyond targeting the easy wins of energy reduction in factories and travel. It targets reductions in the much larger carbon emissions embedded in raw and packaging materials from suppliers and in consumers’ use and disposal of the company’s products. It targets the climate change impact of the product’s overall lifecycle.

RB was an early protagonist of the total carbon footprint approach. Working with external expert consultants over several years RB has established an independently assured methodology to analyse the total lifecycle of its products, and has been targeting activities both within its own supply chain and manufacturing as well as working with consumers to change their behaviour and adopt lower-carbon routines.

Bart Becht, Chief Executive Officer of Reckitt Benckiser plc, said:
“Focussing on climate change is right for our business, right for our industry, and right for society. Our Carbon20 programme set us ambitious targets and I’m pleased that Reckitt Benckiser is on track to exceed them. We still have a lot to do and we will not slow in our drive to make progress. ”

Summary - Key Facts
• Reckitt Benckiser manufactures and sells approximately 6 billion consumer products a year, equivalent to over 16 million products a day.
• 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 were avoided by a 5.75% per unit dose reduction in the products’ lifecycle in 2008. This is comparable to the impact of :
o 450,000 medium sized family cars
o 245,000 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”:
o Consumer use of products, particularly where this involves using machines such as dishwashers or washing machines (70%)
o Raw and packaging materials (21%)
o Product and packaging disposal/recycling (3.5%)
o Retailer operations (2.5%)
o Product manufacturing (1.5%)
o Logistics and distribution of products to retailers (1.5%)
• Major contributors to the success of Carbon20 have been programmes to:
o Educate and enable consumers to reduce energy consumption in the home when using Reckitt Benckiser products. The Our Home Our Planet programme is an on-pack and on-line campaign giving consumers guidance on how to use products in a lower carbon way. For example, switching 50% of European households currently using 60/65o cycles to the “eco” or 50/55o cycle on the dishwasher. This can save 338,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents a year, equal to the emissions of almost 100,000 medium sized family cars.
o Co-operation with suppliers and trade customers to re-engineer the making, packaging, distributing and selling of products to reduce or avoid energy use. For example, the company reduced by 21% (absolute) the carbon impact of propellants in their aerosols in 2008, saving the equivalent of 130,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents a year.
o Re-designing products for fewer materials, less energy, less packaging and less waste. For example, the company reduced 70% of the plastic in a Vanish brand line by moving to a plastic pouch rather than a tub, equivalent to 70% saving in CO2 equivalents.
o 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 it’s factories carbon impact by 20% in absolute terms in the last 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 Carbon 20 target.

Rationale for the Programme
Carbon 20 builds on the substantial progress Reckitt Benckiser has already made in reducing its direct carbon emissions and represents a radical step-change in its commitment and contribution.
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:
o 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 (just as they may also punish ‘green wash’)
o Retailers want to facilitate consumers in reducing carbon emissions, want to address their own carbon profiles and want to work with companies that help them to address these objectives
o Suppliers want to work with responsible businesses, and are also seeking to reduce their impact on climate change
o People want to work for a company that acts responsibly in addressing major social and environmental concerns. A real and effective programme to address climate change increases employee engagement with the Company and will help to attract and recruit future talent
o Government and regulators both need and want business to address climate change in order to help society achieve carbon reduction

Reckitt Benckiser 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 – near 40% of revenue comes from innovations launched in the prior 3 years. It has a strong portfolio led by 17 global powerbrands which are: Finish, Lysol, Dettol, Vanish, Woolite, Calgon, Airwick, Harpic, Bang, Mortein, Veet, Nurofen, Clearasil, Strepsils Gaviscon, Mucinex and French’s, and they account for over two thirds of its net revenue.