Scope 1, 2 & 3 Emissions: Making Small Changes Go Further
How the detergents industry is ensuring emissions savings through innovation are embedded in the values of the European Green Deal.
Decarbonisation is everyone’s business. Consumers and industry each play a distinct and separate role in bringing sustainability to life. When it comes to laundry and the detergents industry, this means finding new and innovative ways to reduce emissions at every step of the value chain – from development, manufacturing and delivery, to use, and recycling of waste and packaging.
As for all industries, successful decarbonisation can only be achieved if the approach is science-based. Many businesses, including P&G, have developed an internal sustainability programme that helps the company to set goals across brands, supply chains and in markets. It’s a strategy to embed Green Deal objectives and practices into every level of a business.
But this is only the start. The detergents industry is using science to understand exactly how laundry products impact the environment. After several years of Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) there is now a strong understanding of laundry’s carbon footprint. LCAs indicate that for laundry it is Scope 3 emissions that are most significant. In fact, LCAs show that on European average, 60% of laundry’s carbon emissions are generated in-use, due largely to the heating of the water. In this knowledge the industry has already responded, taking responsibility by innovating detergents that enable consumers to wash at 30 degrees or less through product performance.
But in addition to this LCA-based approach, the industry is also guided by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol standard, encompassing Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions. Scope 1 & 2 refers to direct emissions, or those produced by product manufacturing and delivery to markets. Therefore, businesses need a strategy and action plan that focuses on finding ways to significantly reduce emissions related to all direct and indirect aspects of a product. Packaging innovation is one such strategy that the detergents sector is utilising to unlock emissions savings across Scope 1 & 2.
According to LCAs, packaging currently accounts for only 3% of laundry’s total carbon footprint. Nevertheless, the sector is increasingly investing in sustainable processes, technologies and materials that drive a future of circularity. Collaboration here is key, and manufacturers are already partnering to pioneer new sustainable packaging solutions, including P&G’s Lenor brand. In partnership with Paboco – the Paper Bottle Company – some 100,000 paper bottles for Fabric Enhancer are being trialled on European supermarket shelves in 2023.
These longer-term partnerships are being complemented across the industry by numerous examples of investment in research and development, to bring more sustainable solutions to market. These include the new cardboard ECOCLIC® box for Ariel PODs® – launched across Europe in 2022 – that is child-safe, and 100% recyclable is guided by the idea that packaging should use less and, when necessary, better plastics. Both are also examples of how packaging can help solve the problem of products’ end-of-life emissions, which account for some 15% of the overall industrial packaging footprint.
Beyond their downstream benefits to the environment, packaging innovations can also help better alignment with the Green Deal’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 55% below 1990 levels by 2030. New packaging solutions can unlock further emissions savings, with packs designed to minimise space for storage and transport.
For example, the design of Ariel’s new cardboard ECOCLIC® box for PODs® allows 48% more washes on each pallet, significantly reducing pressure on transportation emissions. Increasing washes per pallet brings a 19% reduction in the number of trucks needed to bring these products to consumers. This, in turn, saves 5.7 million kilometres of travel per year, or the equivalent of 7.5 return trips to the moon. Alongside a shift towards less emissions-heavy transportation methods, such as boats and trains which reduce the carbon footprint by up to 75% compared to trucks, packaging is a leading example of how the industry is embedding the European Green Deal values across its practices. A part of this effort is to contribute to environmental innovation, by investing and sponsoring new fields of research and study.
As an industry, our hope is that by including life cycle and circular thinking in science and innovation strategies, such as those seen for packaging, we can contribute to the continuous improvement in our sector – for the benefit of households, the environment and business.
 Simplified LCA break-down, based on European average