Bangkok – Each year, 11 million metric tons of plastic are leaking into the environment, polluting oceans and other vital ecosystems.
Current approaches appear to be falling short of successfully tackling the problem of plastic waste on a global scale. Henkel has joined with other major businesses in the corporate manifesto calling for an international agreement to address plastic pollution.
Together with 28 other major global businesses, Henkel has endorsed a business manifesto calling on governments to negotiate and agree on a United Nations (UN) treaty on plastic pollution. The endorsers are urging for a UN treaty that harmonizes the complex landscape of regulatory standards, establishes common metrics and methodologies, mandates the development of national targets and action plans, and supports innovation and infrastructure development to create a level playing field across the plastic value chain.
This call to action by the business community comes ahead of the 5th Session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA5) and as a new report co-authored by the WWF, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Boston Consulting Group outlines the necessity of such a binding international agreement to address plastic pollution.
Plastic – a joint responsibility
“Plastic waste ending up in the environment is one of the biggest challenges humankind is facing today. At Henkel, we recognize our responsibility to address this global problem – and we take action. We are committed to driving progress toward a circular economy, partnering along the value chain to promote sustainable solutions, and contributing to avoid plastic waste,” says Sylvie Nicol, Member of the Henkel Management Board responsible for Human Resources and Sustainability. “However, the activities of individual businesses will not be enough. We need a global framework on UN level to coordinate stakeholder actions and help drive change for the plastic pollution problem at a scale.”
Andrianto Jayapurna, President of Henkel Thailand, said, “Globally, including in Thailand, Henkel is committed to leadership in sustainability. As a market leader in adhesive technologies and an innovation leader in beauty care, we strive continuously to improve the sustainability footprint of our products and operations. In doing so, we work closely with our customers, suppliers, and business partners along our entire value chain to take actions that contribute towards a circular economy. Additionally, we encourage our employees, who are trained sustainability ambassadors, to play an active role in the communities by visiting schools to teach young children how to reduce, reuse and recycle and supporting various local initiatives.”
Commitment to reduce plastic waste
As part of Henkel’s sustainability efforts, the company has set itself ambitious packaging targets for 2025 to promote a circular economy.
• By then, Henkel aims to have 100 percent of its packaging to be recyclable or reusable* (*excluding adhesive products where residue may affect recyclability or pollute recycling streams), and at the end of 2019, we had achieved this for 85 percent of our packaging.
• The company will also reduce fossil-based virgin plastics by 50 percent in its consumer goods packaging. We will achieve this by increasing the proportion of recycled plastic to more than 30 percent through reducing the plastic volume and increasingly using bio-based plastics. At the end of 2019, Henkel uses 12 percent of recycled plastic in our consumer packaging in Europe, and 10 percent globally.
Additionally, Henkel wants to help prevent waste from being disposed of in the environment. To achieve this, Henkel is supporting waste collection and recycling initiatives and investing in innovative solutions and technologies to promote closed-loop recycling.
An example is Henkel’s partnership with Plastic Bank, a social enterprise that aims to stop plastic pollution from entering the oceans, while also providing opportunities for people in poverty by enabling them to earn money or services by removing waste from the environment and making it available for recycling. Last year, we extended this partnership for another five years: Henkel supports ongoing projects in Haiti, the Philippines and Indonesia. Additionally, the company will make a significant contribution to establishing new recycling infrastructure of more than 400 branches in Egypt. By working together, the aim is to increase the availability of Social Plastic® as a resource for the production of packaging.
Henkel is also participating in the New Plastics Economy, an initiative led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that brings stakeholders together to redesign the future of plastics. Additionally, we are a founding member of the global Alliance to End Plastic Waste. The Alliance will develop and bring to scale solutions that will minimize and manage plastic waste. It will also promote solutions for used plastics by helping to enable a circular economy.
Since September, Henkel Thailand has embarked on a company-wide campaign to promote the 3Rs of reduce, reuse, and recycle among our employees. For example, employees are advised to drop off their plastic waste at collection points at gas stations and support various plastic recycling efforts of Less Plastic Thailand, Green Road, Precious Plastic Bangkok, Won Project, and Little Bee Hero.
Creating smarter packaging
All our packaging is designed in such a way that it delivers the performance expected by the consumer while using the least possible amount of and the most sustainable materials. To achieve this goal, our packaging engineers work closely with partners along the entire value chain, so they can make use of leading design techniques, modern production technologies and advanced materials in the development process. Our mission is to include materials from sustainable sources and use a smart design to close the loop.
Henkel concentrates its efforts to drive progress in three key phases: using materials from sustainable sources, integrating smart packaging design, and closing the loop by striving to make sure that our product packaging can be recycled after the product has been consumed.
At Henkel’s adhesive plants in Thailand where raw materials are being transported in intermediate bulk containers, Henkel has engaged a third party to clean the containers, allowing us to reuse these containers by as much as 10 times. We are also continually sourcing for durable but lighter plastic pails, drums and Jerry cans that use lesser plastic materials and can cut down on carbon footprint emissions. This includes the use recycled plastics for liquid containers and improved lid covers that use 24% lighter plastic materials.
For our Beauty Care business in Thailand, the packaging of our Schwarzkopf Extra Care Shampoo and Conditioner products features a new, modern design, which includes smaller plastic caps which weighs 43% less than the previous generation. The use of smaller caps for two of our hair color products under the Paon brand has also helped reduce plastic use by more than 4 tons annually. Furthermore, reusing plastic pallet in the warehouse has enabled us to reduce plastic waste by more than 400 kilograms per month, while using anti-slip sheet to replace stretch film in semi-finished goods storage has reduced plastic use by 4.4 tons per year.
These are part of our holistic strategy that is built around promoting a circular economy. This approach brings to life our commitment to living up to our responsibility as a manufacturer of consumer goods – and work toward finding a solution to our planet’s plastic problem.