Henrik Sundström, VP Sustainability Affairs, shares some of this year's highlights and explains how Electrolux will continue to drive sustainability in 2018.
What were the main highlights of the year?
We have continued to improve our overall sustainability performance and integrate sustainability during the year. The objective has been to further embed sustainability throughout our business as a key part of our new Purpose.
Electrolux was named the Industry Leader of the Household Durables category in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the eleventh consecutive year. CDP also included Electrolux in its Climate A list for the second year running, and we scored A- in our first response to CDP Water. At the end of the year, our new climate target for 2025 was submitted to the Science-Based Targets Initiative. We also continued to significantly increase the use of renewable energy.
The Electrolux Food Foundation began its successful work in 2017, with two global projects and seven local projects in Australia, Poland, Brazil, North America, Asia-Pacific and Sweden. Food is an area that accounts for 70 percent of our business - and where we have a significant opportunity to live up to our promise to Be a Force for Good.
We continue to launch new efficient products to minimize the use of energy and water during use. A good example is our next generation of rack type dishwashers for professional kitchens that uses just a glass of water per rack and offers the lowest running costs in the industry. We also launched campaigns to help consumers use products in a more sustainable way. The 'Don't Overwash' Care Label project was developed together with key partners from the fashion industry to raise awareness of more sustainable clothing care habits enabled by the AEG laundry range.
We continued to improve health and safety performance, and we are on track to meet our global injury rate (TCIR) target of 0.5 by 2020. This demonstrates our strong safety culture and the successful implementation of our safety programs.
Human rights assessments in Thailand and Egypt were carried out with very active participation from the local Electrolux organizations. We also started a due diligence process to investigate the supply chain for conflict minerals from first tier suppliers to smelters.
We launched a global transport dashboard to help promote low-carbon and cost-effective transport options, which is an example of how digitalization is helping to streamline our business. Another important transport-related project in Chile was a switch to low-sulphur bunker fuels. As many ports around the world still allow anchored ships to burn heavy fuel oils, which emits 3,500 times more SOx than road diesel, air pollution has become a serious issue in these cities.
Did Electrolux face any challenges in 2017?
Some challenges have been encountered during the year that limited progress in some areas.
We continue to see an improvement in product energy efficiency , although at a slower pace than before. In the US new product efficiency regulations have been put on hold and in Europe manufacturers are awaiting the outcome of new energy labelling standards for all major appliances.
The energy efficiency improvement in our own operations was also slower than expected in 2017.
As the energy to produce a product decreases, other factors outside our control will have larger impact, such as the unusual cold weather in the first quarter of the year. However, a large switch to renewable electricity more than compensated for the increased use of energy.
In the next few years, Electrolux is planning to drastically increase investments in factories and product platforms are being updated. This will significantly enhance the Group's energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions from product use.
How will you continue to drive the sustainability agenda in 2018?
To Act Sustainably is a core driver for fulfilling the Electrolux purpose to "shape living for the better".
We will continue to drive projects in all areas that contribute to our Science Based Target to reduce our climate impact. The use of recycled materials in our products will receive renewed focus to ensure that we achieve our objectives.
Our human rights assessments and conflict minerals program will continue in 2018 by implementing the conclusions from 2017 and incorporating new areas into the programs.
Food Foundation projects will be expanded and we have the objective to replicate successful projects where possible, such as the successful professional kitchen training in Brazil for unemployed people.
I look forward to continuing to work with all these areas and to further integrating sustainability in 2018. Our new purpose will enable us to really drive our sustainability performance in the years to come.