Jonas Samuelson, Electrolux Group CEO, and Vanessa Butani, VP Group Sustainability, talk about achieving the Electrolux Group science-based climate target three years ahead of schedule, and how the company managed challenges in 2022 to continue work toward its For the Better 2030 goals. This interview is published in the Electrolux Group Sustainability Report 2022.
2022 was a challenging year for many businesses around the world. How was Electrolux Group and its sustainability agenda affected?
Jonas: Following weakening demand for our products, we have had to prioritize our investments with a faster financial and sustainability payback and delay some investments with longer-term benefit. Despite this, it has also been an opportunity for us to focus on what truly matters – to pursue our sustainable company strategy.
Vanessa: Exactly, while we have recently taken measures to navigate our business through this challenging period, we maintain our ambitious sustainability objectives and our commitment to delivering on them. I am proud of the concrete results we have achieved.
What key progress was made during the year?
Jonas: It’s fantastic that we have achieved our 2025 science-based climate target three years early by reducing our scope 1 and 2 emissions by 82% and our scope 3 emissions by more than 25% compared with 2015.
Vanessa: We are very proud to have achieved our target, and the next step is to define the details of our new science-based target moving forward.
How far has Electrolux Group come on its sustainability journey?
Jonas: We have made a lot of progress in recent years. We’ve really evolved how we look at sustainability in everything we do and how we enable consumers to live more sustainably. Sustainability has gone from focusing on meeting government regulations and product energy efficiency to being about who we are and how we win as a company – to become more relevant to our consumers and do the right thing. Sustainability, including both environmental and social aspects, is truly a core part of our strategy, performance follow-up and our transformation.
Vanessa: I agree, and I’d like to add that sustainability helps drive good business results – with the Group’s most energy and water efficient products accounting for 24% of total units sold and 39% of gross profit in 2022.
What would you like to highlight in terms of your journey towards more sustainable manufacturing?
Vanessa: We continue our work towards efficiency and climate neutrality in our operations. For instance, we sourced 98% of the electricity used in our global operations from renewable sources in 2022. Another highlight during the year was that our Cerreto d’Esi factory in Italy became the first Electrolux Group plant to fully replace fossil fuels with renewable electricity in its manufacturing operations by ending the factory’s use of natural gas. In 2022, 55% of our factories were also certified according to our Zero Waste to Landfill program.
What new solutions were launched in 2022 to help consumers live more sustainably?
Vanessa: Our built-in refrigerator range includes a new Ecometer that helps the consumer to make more energy efficient choices and inner liners that are made from 70% recycled plastic. We introduced refrigerator solutions such as Cooling 360 and ColdSense that make ingredients last longer and help reduce food waste. In laundry products, our new front-load washers save an average of over 450 liters of water per year compared with a top-load washer. We also launched a vacuum cleaner without paint to reduce chemical use, energy and material impact in an industry first.
Jonas: Those products are great. In addition, we continue to nudge consumers to more sustainable behavior through various innovative product solutions. I’d like to mention our global campaign – Break the Pattern, which raised awareness among millions of consumers on the environmental impacts of “throw-away fashion” and how to make our clothes last longer.
How have employees been involved in sustainability during the year?
Jonas: Our people remain a crucial part of our sustainability work and it is essential that they remain engaged in what we’re doing throughout the Group. We launched our first ever Group-wide sustainability e-learning to further improve the knowledge of our colleagues and what they can do in their role at Electrolux Group.
Vanessa: I’d like to add that the results from our new employee survey – the Electrolux Group Employee Voice – highlighted some good progress on work-life balance and wellbeing as well as understanding of our Code of Conduct. The survey also highlighted good perceptions on our diversity and inclusion work in terms of equal opportunities, team inclusion, non-discrimination and belonging.
How important are partnerships to the Electrolux Group?
Jonas: In these challenging times, it is essential that we partner with like-minded organizations to pool our knowledge and resources to help drive and accelerate our sustainability work.
Vanessa: Partnerships are important to develop our circular business strategy and achieve our sustainable business strategy – from transportation and logistics to more sustainable materials and business models.
How does the climate reduction element to the long-term incentive program influence the company’s climate work?
Jonas: Our long-term incentive program for our senior managers that is connected to our sustainability targets was a key contributor to our sustainability agenda during the year and our carbon emission reductions. The program will be important in delivering our sustainable business strategy going forward.
What are the Group’s sustainability challenges in 2023?
Jonas: We will continue to follow our For the Better 2030 roadmaps, which ensure we have a holistic approach to sustainability throughout our value chain. We know how we’re performing in all the areas and where we need to raise our game. Our status as a long-term signatory of the UN Global Compact remains important.
Vanessa: I believe that many of the themes we are working on will continue to be developed in 2023 – from our approach toward a more circular economy and supply chain sustainability, to developing more resource-efficient products and empowering consumers to live more sustainable lives. We are also planning to step up our work with climate action next year with a new science-based target.
How important are the Electrolux Group purpose, strategy and objectives to its sustainability work going forward?
Jonas: Sustainability is fundamental to our purpose to shape living for the better by promoting more sustainable living for millions of people around the world. By focusing on our purpose and sustainable strategy at this challenging time, I believe we contribute towards the long-term success of our business.
Vanessa: Our sustainability framework For the Better 2030 involves creating better operations and better solutions, while encouraging better living for consumers by enabling them to live more sustainably. It’s important here to highlight the work of the Electrolux Food Foundation that has engaged with more than 124,000 people since 2016 to inspire more sustainable eating and support those in need.
Read the Electrolux Group Sustainability Report here.