Responsible use of raw materials

Henkel is committed to responsible management of raw materials, and especially the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity. We have used ingredients based on renewable raw materials for many years to optimize the overall characteristics of our products, wherever this is compatible with environmental, economic and social considerations. Renewable raw materials are already key ingredients in many of our products, such as soaps, shampoos, glue sticks and wallpapering adhesives. More than 30 percent of the ingredients used in the surfactants (washing active substances) in our laundry detergents are derived from renewable raw materials. This is a case of indirect use, as Henkel sources raw materials such as palm kernel oil through its surfactant and raw materials suppliers.

Renewable raw materials in our laundry detergents

Renewable raw materials are historically one of the major sources of raw materials for detergents and household cleaners. Soap – which has traditionally been used to wash laundry as well as for personal hygiene – has been made for centuries from vegetable or animal oils and fats. Today most detergents and household cleaners consist of a large number of ingredients, each with its own special function.

Most bulk ingredients of detergents and household cleaners are inorganic and cannot be replaced by ingredients based on renewable raw materials. Surfactants are an important exception. They consist of a lipophilic – fat-loving – part, which is obtained from vegetable or mineral oils, and a hydrophilic – water-loving – part, which is usually based on mineral oil or is inorganic. Surfactants which consist only of renewable raw materials, such as alkylpolyglycosides, are the exception.

To achieve the best possible washing performance, we use a mixture of different surfactants. In more than half of them, the lipophilic part is based on renewable raw materials – a result of our many years of experience with ingredients based on renewable oils and fats such as palm kernel oil, which can only be used for industrial purposes. The proportion of renewable raw materials in surfactants for our detergents and household cleaners is about 30 percent. The other 70 percent are accounted for by inorganic and mineral-oil-based ingredients.

Cosmetics based on natural and renewable raw materials

In the cosmetics sector, nature-based raw materials are used in all product groups. We refer to the use of individual nature-based active ingredients or fragrances in our products if these are associated with specific properties – for example, the care properties of shea butter and yogurt or the soothing effect of aloe vera.

Furthermore, we are working to increase the proportion of ingredients based on renewable raw materials in our cosmetic products, wherever this is both possible and appropriate. If mineral-oil-based ingredients in a formulation are replaced by starch-based ones, this increases the overall proportion of renewable raw materials and helps to conserve fossil resources. Regarding ingredients based on both renewable raw materials and mineral oil, only the renewable fraction is taken into account. Wherever possible, we calculate the percentage of renewable raw materials referred to the dry weight of our products. In certain markets and product categories it is common practice to include the water contained in the formulation in the calculation as well. More than two-thirds of the ingredients of the product formulations of our soaps, shampoos and shower gels are now based on renewable raw materials. The use of ingredients obtained from renewable raw materials is also on the rise in styling products. For example, thickener systems derived from mineral oils (polyacrylates) are being replaced by starch- and cellulose-based systems.

We are also committed to considering ecological and social aspects when we purchase renewable raw materials. We increasingly use ingredients from controlled organic crops in our formulations.

Natural adhesion

Renewable raw materials such as starch, cellulose, dextrins and proteins are used in many consumer and craftsmen adhesives and in industrial adhesives for a large range of applications. For example, we utilize renewable raw materials in glue sticks, wallpaper pastes, and packaging adhesives. Bottle labeling adhesives contain as much as 45 percent.

Progress made for palm oil and palm kernel oil

Palm oil and palm kernel oil are excellent examples illustrating the importance of taking a responsible attitude toward the use of plant-based ingredients. To promote sustainable production of palm oil and palm kernel oil, Henkel has participated in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) since 2003. In 2008, we became the first company worldwide to purchase RSPO certificates for selected products. These certificates are one way to promote sustainably managed palm oil plantations.

Since 2010, The small amounts of palm oil and palm kernel oil that are used as direct inputs for our products have been covered by such certificates since 2010. In 2012, Henkel was audited for the second time by Control Union, which confirmed our exemplary compliance with the RSPO standards for the purchase of certificates for sustainable palm and palm kernel oil production.

Henkel’s target for 2015 is to have all of the palm oil and palm kernel oil supplied in the form of raw materials for direct and indirect use in the products of all our business sectors covered throughout by RSPO certificates. In 2012, our Laundry & Home Care business sector already covered its entire range of laundry detergents and household cleaners worldwide with RSPO certificates. In parallel, we maintain a continuous dialogue with our raw materials suppliers to encourage them to switch their production processes to sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil as soon as possible.

Since early 2011, we have also been an initiator of the Forum on Sustainable Palm Oil. The goal of this initiative – a collaborative effort of manufacturers, retailers and non-governmental organizations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland – is to promote sustainable palm oil production worldwide. Its work is based on the standards defined by the RSPO, which it intends to refine and amplify.

Initiative on protecting woods and biodiversity

Logo Consumer Goods Forum

Henkel is also one of the signatories to a resolution passed by the Consumer Goods Forum to fight global deforestation and protect biodiversity. The member companies have committed to take individual and concerted action to stop global deforestation by 2020. For us, this relates especially to raw materials such as palm and palm kernel oil.

Photo Terra products
The bottles for our Terra brand glass and bathroom cleaners and dishwashing liquid are made of 100 percent recycled material (PET).

94 percent of the ingredients in the soaps and body washes of our Dial Naturals line in the USA are derived from renewable raw materials, and they are readily biodegradable.

Photo Pritt Stick

In the year 2000, we switched our Pritt Stick to a formulation based on renewable raw materials, which now account for 90 percent of its dry weight.

RSPO certificate

Last updated: March 6, 2013