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Henkel North America Sponsored Series

Pursuing Net-Positive

Henkel's Sustainability Story: From Inspiration to Action

By Steven Essick
henkel researchers world - kids in classroom

Henkel Researchers’ World introduces children to the concepts of sustainability, consumption, recycling, materials science and more.

As sustainability leaders, Henkel is focused on transformational impact for the good of generations. Throughout our long history, we’ve developed innovative products and manufacturing processes that conserve natural resources and reduce waste. And we’ve made a commitment to transparency along the way. 

In fact, Henkel became one of the first companies in Germany to publish an environmental report back in 1992 (long before it was the norm). With the 2022 Henkel Sustainability Report hot off the presses, Henkel is showcasing its 2030+ Sustainability Ambition Framework, which spans three key dimensions: regenerative planet, thriving communities and trusted partner.

Henkel 2030 sustainability ambition framework
Henkel’s 2030+ Sustainability Ambition Framework sets long-term ambitions in the three dimensions of regenerative planet, thriving communities and trusted partner and links to the company's high aspiration of achieving a “transformational impact for the good of generations."

Below are a just few highlights from our 2022 Sustainability Report — stepping stones in our ongoing journey of sustainability, and how we are implementing action here in North America. 

Regenerative planet 

At Henkel, we continuously strive to transform our processes, products and use of raw materials to provide relief for our planet. Using more renewable ingredients in our products and packaging and leveraging energy efficiency technology at our manufacturing sites are two effective strategies. For example:

  • Here in North America, a five-year collaboration with Shell will replace up to 200,000 tonnes of fossil-based feedstocks used in the manufacture of laundry surfactants (an ingredient that helps lather and lift dirt) with feedstocks that are based on renewable raw materials. The renewable-based surfactants will be used in many varieties of Persil, Purex and All brands. 
  • Across our North American manufacturing sites, Henkel is committed to sustainability progress. For example, in 2022, our adhesive plant in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, installed a new, energy-efficient cooling system that will save an estimated 18,000 cubic meters of water every year. In addition, an overhaul to a more efficient thermal oxidizing process resulted in annual natural gas savings of approximately 1,100 megawatt-hours of energy and a significant positive climate impact due to lower emissions. 
water recycling system at Henkel facility
The Henkel Cannon Falls facility has new water recirculation system that reduces water consumption and electricity usage.

Thriving community 

Through our business and brands, Henkel directly contributes to quality of life around the world. Beyond that, our desire to create sustainable change for customers and communities makes social engagement a driving force at Henkel. We support sustainable social projects around the world through volunteerism, social partnerships, emergency aid and brand engagement.  Here are just a few examples: 

  • To cultivate curiosity and build science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills in young people, Henkel Researchers’ World (known as “Forscherwelt” in German) provides a research and development-based educational curriculum that has reached more than 81,000 children around the world since 2011.
  • Here in North America, we launched the Henkel Researchers’ World program in Stamford, Connecticut, in 2021, in partnership with local nonprofit Mill River Park. The program has already reached more than 1,000 children. We look forward to expanding the program to reach more children, who may one day bring their STEM skills to the Henkel team.
  • Another signature program, Make an Impact on Tomorrow (MIT), supports thriving communities through employee volunteerism. Celebrating its 25th year in 2023, the MIT program provides financial and other resources to support the causes closest to our employees’ hearts. Since the MIT initiative was launched in 1998, Henkel has provided $41 million to support over 17,000 charitable projects in more than 100 countries. In 2022, the work of Henkel volunteers in North America impacted the lives of more than 110,000 people.
Henkel volunteers
Henkel established the Make an Impact on Tomorrow (MIT) initiative in 1998 to fund and support employee volunteering efforts.

Trusted partner

Today, Henkel strives to view every aspect of our business through a sustainability lens. And we report on sustainability progress openly to further build trust with stakeholders who share our concern for the environment. Here are two ways we are partnering to better the planet:  

  • Through a long-term partnership with Novozymes, we have developed new variants that increase the concentration of key enzyme outputs in detergents and cleaning agents by up to 40 percent. This enables us to eliminate about 1,000 metric tons of carbon emissions per year. 
  • Celebrating 10 years of partnership, Henkel and Solidaridad recently announced a grant from personal care brand Dial to help create 35,000 acres of farmland for certified sustainable palm oil production in Colombia and provide 250 farmers with training and access to additional financial support.
palm oil farmers in colombia - sustainable palm oil
Together with partner Solidaridad, Henkel supports programs to provide smallholders with resources for sustainable cultivation of palm oil and to improve smallholders' livelihoods at the same time.

These are just a few of the ways our sustainability strategy is creating measurable, meaningful change. For more information about our efforts, please check out our 2022 Sustainability Report, or the sustainability page on the Henkel North America website. 

While we are proud of our successes at Henkel, we know that we need to stay full speed ahead when it comes to sustainability. Henkel continues to bring that same pioneering spirit to create a more sustainable world for future generations. There’s no area where innovation is more important. 

This article is sponsored by Henkel North America.

Images courtesy of Henkel 

Steven Essick headshot

Steven Essick is the President of Henkel’s North America region. Essick, who also serves as the Regional Head of Finance, is a 26-year Henkel veteran, and has served in global financial and commercial leadership roles with Henkel across Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America.

Read more stories by Steven Essick