The connection between planetary and public health is increasingly apparent. Climate change will lead to more than 250,000 deaths every year. It’s a sobering thought, and a theme at COP26 for the World Health Organisation and more. There is a growing focus on the human health impacts of climate change as well as the impacts on the planet, ecosystems and biodiversity. As the Hygiene Sponsor for COP, we’re highlighting this and promoting ways to tackle climate change while enabling the dialogue that we believe is essential for progress and collaboration.
With our own focus on the health, hygiene and nourishment of people all over the world, we understand and are responding to the strong connection between climate change, planetary health and public health. We are determined to play our part to achieve global climate change targets. Our science-based targets mean that we’re reducing emissions in our manufacturing sites by 65% and in our products by 50% by 2030 to help limit global warming to less than 1.5oC. This means more renewable energy, greater energy efficiency, lower carbon ingredients and packaging, more recycling, green logistics and lower carbon when people use our products all over the world.
We have made progress – already using more renewable energy, becoming more energy efficient, and reducing our overall footprint. But with most of our footprint being in our value chain, the way we design our products and work with others is critical in our race to zero. Our innovation programme, supported by our Sustainable Innovation Calculator, assesses new product developments and whether they are more sustainable than those they replace. We’re working with suppliers to find ways of reducing upstream carbon in ingredients and in processes. It’s also why we’re assessing the ecosystem impacts we have so we can develop nature-based solutions to strengthen biodiversity and combat climate change. And it’s why we work with our customers, for example, joining Amazon’s climate pledge and, through our brands, help consumers save energy.
These links throughout our value chain remind us that, while we’re a large global company, many companies we work with around the world and, equally, many CBI members are coming to terms with the challenges of adapting to climate change. To support this, we’ve developed partnerships that help our suppliers, and Reckitt is always open to sharing the work we are doing and the tools we’re using. This complements the climate tools that CBI members can utilise such as the Goal 13 impact platform. We appreciate that SMEs often do not have the climate change resources that large multinationals do. That’s why, for example, we’re looking to support the many SMEs in Hull via the ‘Vision for a Better Hull’ project, launching 2022, which seeks to support Hull’s economic prosperity in a decarbonised world.
That connection we and many brands have with people everywhere is a powerful opportunity to help combat climate change and other societal issues. We’ve shown we can do this through the pandemic – building health literacy and enabling hygiene. While we reduce our own carbon footprint, we can enable and encourage people to do the same. Brands, like Vanish, Finish and Dettol, that increasingly use less carbon when used, can encourage people to make their own contributions, such as lowering the temperature of the laundry wash to get rid of stains, skipping the rinse in dishwashing, and even using cooler water when washing your hands. These small differences add up. On their own, they may not be enough. But they do matter and alongside bigger changes that we and others are making, and changes to energy systems and supply, changes to policy, practice and behaviour, corporately and individually, they will make a difference.
There’s an opportunity for business and brands in making this happen. Through collaboration, playing a role as global corporate citizens and building citizenship everywhere. there’s an opportunity to be an important and essential part of the solution to climate change. Impact for society was central to our heritage. It’s now central to Reckitt’s strategy and purpose – to protect heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world.
Listen to Reckitt discuss product innovation and emissions reduction and hear their advice to business here.