Sustainability in Our Products and Packaging
When we formulate and manufacture our products, we keep you and our planet in mind. We strive to use ingredients and packaging that are more sustainable, including materials that are recyclable and compostable. Ultimately, our goal is to deliver high-quality products that make your everyday life better, every day. When it comes to the amount of materials that go into our products and packaging, we believe that less is more. We’re always trying to find ways to reduce the overall volume of materials. That way, we can help eliminate any associated footprint and minimize the waste that potentially ends up in landfills.
Goals and Progress
Our Latest Goals
We’re continually working to find innovative ways to enhance the environmental profile of our products and packaging. All of our businesses are held accountable for delivering specific sustainability commitments, with overall coordination from our Eco Team.
By 2020, we seek to accomplish the following goals:
- Make sustainability improvements to 50 percent of our global product portfolio.
- Ensure more than 90 percent of all our products are in recyclable primary packaging.
- Include recycling instructions on U.S. retail packaging.
- Use only recycled or certified virgin fiber in packaging.
- Eliminate PVC in packaging.
Our Progress So Far
We’ve made good progress already:
- Sustainability improvements have been made to over 49 percent of our product portfolio since 2011, just shy of our goal of 50 percent by 2020. This is on top of the same achievement between 2005 and 2011.
- More than 90 percent of the packages that house our products are recyclable.
- 99 percent of our direct packaging fiber is made from recycled or certified sustainable sources.
In addition, we make sure our products are assessed for potential impacts to the environment, looking at things like biodegradation and bioaccumulation as well as impacts on septic systems, aquatic life, birds and other wildlife.
Our sustainability efforts are not just good for the environment. They’re good for business too, contributing to sales, cost savings and employee engagement.
Note: Joint ventures and licensing partnerships are excluded.
Product Sustainability Improvements
GOAL: 50% by 2020
STATUS: 49% in 2017
Product Sustainability Improvements Over Time
Selling well over 2 billion products annually, Clorox’s greatest opportunity to reduce our environmental footprint lies within our own product portfolio. We make sustainability improvements to our product lines by either reducing material inputs or by moving toward more sustainable materials for our products and packaging. And we consider improvements upstream in sourcing and downstream in consumer usage.
We’ve developed specific parameters that must be met in order for changes to qualify as sustainability improvements. Our businesses need to fully meet one or partially meet two or more of the following criteria:
- A 5 percent or greater reduction in product or packaging materials.
- An environmentally beneficial change to 10 percent or more of packaging or active ingredients.
- A 10 percent reduction in required consumer usage of water or energy.
- An environmentally beneficial sourcing change to 20 percent or more of active ingredients or packaging.
Note: All improvements are on a per-consumer basis.
The criteria were designed to allow flexibility, allowing each brand to drive innovations that make the most sense for the category and products.
Use of Recyclable Primary Packaging
GOAL: 90% by 2020
STATUS: >90% in 2017
To achieve this goal, we’ve focused on eliminating the use of specific materials that prevent packaging from being recycled because they are not recyclable. For example, PVC and metal parts have been removed from some of our product packaging. We’ve also incorporated recyclability into the product design process, introducing innovations in packaging.
In some cases, we continue to use materials not supported by the current recycling infrastructure when they provide other offsetting benefits. For example, multilayer films are used to make pouches in certain cash-constrained markets where there is greater demand for small pack sizes. While not recyclable, these pouches use less material than rigid containers, making them a better choice when recycling is not available, and weigh less, providing greenhouse gas savings. Because of technical challenges with other options, flexible tubes are the packaging of choice for products such as hand cream or shaving cream. Consumers also like the tubes and find them easy to use. As a result, our focus has been on using more post-consumer recycled content, or PCR, in the tubes.
We will continue to work toward our goal of ensuring that at least 90 percent of all our products are in recyclable primary packaging.
On-Pack Recycling Instructions
GOAL: Include on U.S. Retail Packaging
STATUS: >80% in 2017
Designing recyclable packaging only gets us halfway there. You need to take the next step and actually recycle the packages. And we all need to prevent non-recyclable materials from contaminating the recycling stream.
Unfortunately, the process can be confusing. In the U.S., there are no standards for how packaging gets recycled. Some materials are recyclable in one community but not in another. Plus, it’s often hard to determine material types by just looking at the packaging itself.
Working with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, we are participating in an industrywide initiative to take the guesswork out of recycling and get more materials into the recycling bin. The How2Recycle® label, which launched in 2012, is a standardized and clear format for on-pack recycling instructions on products. Since then, we’ve formalized a process for adding the How2Recycle label on our packages when new packaging graphics are developed. By our last count, nearly 1,000 Clorox product SKUs, representing more than 80 percent of our domestic retail sales volume, carried the How2Recycle label.
While we’re adopting this format where we can, in some cases there are obstacles. Packages are sometimes too small. Other times, required regulatory information or multilingual communication limits the amount of available space. In those cases, we look for alternative solutions that can work within the constraints of the particular product.
By participating in this initiative, Clorox and other consumer packaged goods companies are helping to promote greater recycling of their product packaging throughout the U.S.
Use Only Recycled or Certified Virgin Fiber in Packaging
GOAL: 100% by 2020
STATUS: 99% in 2017
After reducing the overall amount of fiber in our packaging, our next priority is to use recycled fiber wherever possible. When virgin fiber is required, we seek sustainable forestry certifications to ensure responsible practices have been followed.
By 2020, our goal is to use only recycled or certified virgin fiber in our packaging. Today, we’ve nearly met this goal for packaging we purchase directly, using recycled or certified virgin fiber in approximately 99 percent of our packaging.
This past year, we also began to engage our contract manufacturers to understand their own sourcing practices for packaging fiber they purchase. While we estimate this represents 5 to 10 percent of total packaging fiber used by our brands, we have started the work to understand how we can influence this part of the supply chain.
Eliminate PVC in Packaging
GOAL: 100% BY 2020
STATUS: 100% IN 2017 (U.S.)*
Due to the potential environmental impacts associated with the manufacture and disposal of PVC packaging, we decided to transition out of PVC packaging and restrict its use as a packaging material in the future.
To date, we’ve focused our work on eliminating PVC packaging for brands in our portfolio at the start of our current goal period. Among these brands, we transitioned out of the last PVC package in the U.S. in 2016 and are working to eliminate the last PVC materials in International packaging by 2020.
* Excludes international as well as brands recently added to portfolio.