Make better use of resources
Electrolux will make better use of resources, and promote the market for recycling by using more recycled materials.
Read more about our progress on this Promise
Roadmap 2015 to 2020
- Replace virgin materials with recycled materials in our products
- Increase the volume of recycled plastic to 20,000 metric tons annually
- Increase the amount of scrap-based steel in our production
- Identify and evaluate relevant circular business models that can be scaled up
The case for action
Population growth and raw materials
As the global middle class is expected to more than double in size by 2030, the demand for material resources will increase together with the demand for goods and services. For Electrolux, this means we can expect the price of materials such as steel, plastic and electronic components to become more volatile.
There is an urgent need to reduce the pressure on raw material resources and the environmental impacts associated with their extraction. One way to do this is to move toward systems that are more circular and ensure the maximum value from resources by recovering and reusing materials at the end of each service life.
According to the 2019 Circularity Gap Report by Circle Economy, only 9% of the resources used globally are cycled back into the economy after use. The report stresses the need for a circular economy that makes better use of resources to prevent further and accelerated environmental degradation and social inequality.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Virgin materials cause considerable greenhouse gas emissions through their extraction and manufacture. For example, the emissions from the production of plastic in our products are approximately equivalent to the emissions from our operations and transport activities combined.
Recycled materials on the other hand can have substantially lower greenhouse gas emissions. This means that increasing the amount of high-quality recycled materials in our products can make an important contribution to combating climate change. Steel is the largest material we use by volume and is an even greater source of CO2 emissions than plastic. By sourcing scrap-based steel, we can make a significant reduction in our CO2 footprint from materials.
Emissions can also be reduced by extending the useful lifetime of our products. This can be achieved through promoting more circular business models or providing aftermarket services that ultimately make better use of resources.
Our internal Recycling Taskforce includes representatives from each Electrolux sector, purchasing, R&D, production and product lines to define this promise's scope, targets and action points. This involves finding reliable and high-quality material suppliers, to identify the best opportunities within each product category for replacing virgin materials with recycled materials – either within the existing design, by adapting the design for recycled materials, and by adapting material recipes and production processes to ensure the recycled materials meet our requirements.
We are also working to make better use of resources by extending the useful lifetime of our products. We do this by delivering high-quality products, investigating more circular business models and offering aftermarket services.
- Securing consistent, traceable and safe high-quality material in sufficient volumes.
- Maintaining the use of recycled material when developing new products.
- Optimizing product lifetime in a way that benefits the consumer, Electrolux and the environment.
Overcoming these challenges requires strategic partnerships with recycled plastic suppliers and strong internal capabilities. Specific requirements have been added to the Electrolux Restricted Materials List, covering our restrictions on hazardous substances.
Partnerships are also sometimes required to create circular business models that create common value for Electrolux and its partners.
The progress on our promise
How we measure progress
- The amount of recycled plastic we buy (in metric tons)
- The carbon footprint of the steel we buy compared with our 2015 baseline
- Identify and evaluate relevant circular business models that can be scaled up
In 2019, the amount of recycled plastic we used compared with last year decreased from 7,300 metric tons in 2018 to 6,400 metric tons in 2019. However, this is still over 20 times more recycled plastic than we used in 2011, when we started measuring.
We are working to better incorporate recycled plastics into new products from the outset, which we already do for our vacuum cleaners. In 2019, we held internal workshops to promote the incorporation of recycled plastics in new product platforms. We are also making good progress with trials of incorporating recycled plastic in Asia Pacific and the U.S.
Despite some progress, we do not expect to meet our objective to annually use 20,000 metric tons of recycled plastic by 2020. This is partly due to a lack of local supply with sufficient quality outside Europe. However, we see supply developing and will continue to step up our efforts to drive progress in the coming years.
Electrolux has also signed up to the EU plastic pledge, which is a campaign for companies to make pledges to use more recycled plastic.
Amount of recycled plastic
Electrolux increased the amount of recycled steel from 20% in 2015 to 22% in 2019, which has reduced the average annual carbon emissions per metric ton of steel from 1.82 to 1.79 metric tons of CO2, and the annual CO2 emissions by 17,700 metric tons. Since 2015, we have avoided the generation of 194,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions by using recycled steel instead of ore-based steel. Additionally, the ore-based steel we use contains up to 30% recycled steel. This has not been taken into consideration in the calculation.
Although we have made some progress since 2015, we saw a continued reduction in our use of recycled steel in 2019 compared with the previous year. This is mainly due to the ongoing trade conflict between the U.S. and China, which is expected to have a further negative impact in 2020 on our use of recycled steel.
Recycled steel over time
Electrolux has made most progress with scrap-based steel in North America, where there is good availability of high-quality scrap-based steel. While we would like to see this happen in other markets, it will take a longer time to realize due to structural differences between the steel industries in different regions, with less high-quality scrap-based steel available outside North America. In Europe, suppliers typically sell a lower quality of scrap-based steel, which is inadequate for Electrolux products.
Circular business models
In 2019, Electrolux launched fixed price repair services in Europe. The service gives consumers peace of mind by ensuring no hidden costs to repair and extend the lifetime of their products. Customer satisfaction studies have shown a very positive response.
During the year, Electrolux received funding from Vinnova for a field study to test a new leasing concept for municipal housing companies in Sweden. The concept involves leasing washing machines that are maintained and serviced by Electrolux to optimize their lifetime to landlords with furnished apartments.
Electrolux has also begun trialing new subscription-based business models. For example, the award-winning Pure i9 robotic vacuum is being offered on a trial subscription pay-per-use basis in Sweden with all service and maintenance included in the fee. The model ensures that each unit is used to its fullest extent throughout its lifetime.
Electrolux intensified its partnership with Karma to reduce food waste during the year. A connected refrigerator has been installed in 45 stores around Sweden, to enable consumers to purchase unsold food in the Karma app. This food would otherwise be thrown away.
|Roadmap 2015 to 2020||Next steps||Status|
Replace virgin materials with recycled materials in our products.
Expand strategic partnerships with suppliers. Leverage experience from Europe in other regions.
Increase the volume of recycled plastic to 20,000 metric tons annually.
Focus on purchasing and R&D efforts to enable the introduction of recycled plastic in more applications.
Increase the amount of scrap-based steel in our production.
Continue to leverage experience from North America in other regions and identify suppliers of scrap-based steel outside North America.
Identify and evaluate relevant circular business models that can be scaled up.
We will continue to identify and evaluate initiatives, with the aim to scale up the most successful.
The next steps towards 2030 will be announced in the 2020 report.
Additional effort is required
Work has not yet begun
Electrolux is a leading global appliance company that has shaped living for the better for more than 100 years. We reinvent taste, care and wellbeing experiences for millions of people around the world, always striving to be at the forefront of sustainability in society through our solutions and operations. Under our brands, including Electrolux, AEG and Frigidaire, we sell approximately 60 million household products in approximately 120 markets every year. In 2019 Electrolux had sales of SEK 119 billion and employed 49,000 people around the world.
S:t Göransgatan 143
SE-105 45 Stockholm, Sweden