OHOP - Questions and Answers

Why do we even need cleaning products? Won’t water and a cloth suffice?
Household cleaning products are used safely and effectively in millions of Australian homes every day. They play a vital role in maintaining home hygiene and protecting families from harmful germs and eliminating dust, mites and pet hair which could lead to respiratory problems such as asthma. ?

Without proper cleaning practices and effective cleaning products, homes can become virtual reservoirs for potentially harmful bacteria including E.Coli, Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus aureus.  (The Hygiene Council, 2009) 


Are the ingredients in the cleaning products with the Our Home Our Planet logo safe for the environment?
We have a real commitment to running our business in a responsible, environmentally sound and sustainable manner and will continue to work with government and industry bodies to develop products that are environmentally sensitive, with minimal environmental impact.  (Reckitt Benckiser, 2007)

We continue to develop a range of Ingredient Removal Programs, above and beyond local and national regulatory requirements. Our objective is to continually improve the environmental and safety profile of our products, by systematically removing specific ingredients from product formulas and packaging/device component specifications, where ‘better’ alternatives exist.  (Reckitt Benckiser, 2008 Sustainability Report)
To date we have effectively removed a range of ingredients from our products including APE’s / NPE’s, Brominated Flame Retardants, Geranyl Nitrile (GN), Nitro and polycyclic musks, Formaldehyde, Dichlorvos, Glycol Ethers (Monoethylene series), Paradichlorobenzene (PDBC) and Red Devil Lye (100% NaOH) and by the end of 2009 we endeavor to remove PVC packaging in all of our household products.  (Reckitt Benckiser, 2008 Sustainability Report)

More information on our work with local and international government and industry bodies, including our Ingredient Removal Programs can be found on page 13 of our latest sustainability report, available online here. (Reckitt Benckiser, 2008 Sustainability Report) 


What about Phosphates? Are phosphates used in Finish? And if so, what are the environmental impacts?
 

Yes. Reckitt Benckiser uses phosphates in Finish dishwasher detergent powder, tablets and liquid.?

Phosphates offer a number of functions in detergents. This includes the key function of neutralising “hardness” of water and dirt allowing the detergent to work more efficiently with less harmful ingredients, and subsequently reducing the impact on the environment while maintaining hygienic standards.  (CEEP) C. E., 2007)

A Finish tablet has about half the amount of phosphorous when compared to a regular top loading detergent powder for a normal wash load. Reckitt Benckiser uses the minimum amount of phosphates to maintain the highest standard of dish cleaning. (Approved Media Q&A)

While phosphate-free dishwashing detergents are available in Australia and other countries, phosphate compounds in modern dishwashing detergents have a minimal environmental impact and are highly beneficial.

Although excessive phosphate in waterways can lead to algal growth (algal blooms) or rapid growth of other water plants, treatment plants in Australia are mostly equipped to remove excess phosphate.  (Sydney Water 2009, Queensland Government (2009), Melbourne Water (2009) SA Water (2009) Water Corporation (2009))

Furthermore, according to the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (A.I.S.E.), phosphates from automatic dishwasher detergents is a very minor contributor to the total amount of phosphate entering water systems. In Europe, for example, less than four percent of the total phosphate load discharged via waste-water is stemming from dishwasher detergents.  (International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (A.I.S.E.), 2007 and 2008) 

 
What is HDPE and where does it go? 

HDPE or High Density Polyethylene is used to make containers for many of our products including Pine-O-Cleen, Harpic, Bam, and Vanish Napisan. 

HDPE is fully recyclable in Australia and when recycled is used to manufacture many  products including  compost bins, outdoor furniture, water pipes, plastic film,  crates, and wheelie bins  - just to name a few.  (The Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association, 2008)
Despite the fact that HDPE is recyclable, the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association reported in their 2008 National Plastics Recycling Survey that only 19.4% of HDPE was actually recycled in Australia in 2008.  (The Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association, 2008). 

Through the Our Home Our Planet program, we encourage consumers to take advantage of their local recycling programs in addition to using our tips to save water and energy. 

 
What is the overall environmental impact of these products?  

At Reckitt Benckiser, we recognise that our processes and products have both direct and indirect environmental impacts. We seek to achieve continuous improvement in our environmental performance through our comprehensive Carbon 20 program which aims to reduce our products’ Total Carbon Footprint by 20% per unit by 2020, against a base year of 2007.  (Reckitt Benckiser, 2009)

More statistics regarding our material and resource usage including emissions information can be found on pages 8 and 9 of our latest sustainability report, available online here.  

 
What other environmental activities is Reckitt Benckiser involved in?  
 
Carbon 20
Under the Carbon 20 program we take a holistic life-cycle management approach to measuring and improving our sustainability performance and look beyond the manufacturing activities under our direct control to the impacts of our supply chain through to consumers use of, and disposal of our products and packaging.  (Reckitt Benckiser, 2009)

In 2008, we achieved an outstanding 5.75% reduction per unit dose in our products’ Total Carbon Footprint. This means that after only one year we are already one-quarter of the way towards hitting our 2020 goal. (Reckitt Benckiser, 2009)

Our Home Our Planet
Through extensive lifecycle analysis of our products we have uncovered that consumer usage and disposal accounts for approximately 73.5% of our company’s total carbon footprint. As consumer behaviour is the key to real success in the Carbon 20 program, we launched the Our Home Our Planet (OHOP) program. OHOP is specifically designed to ensure the company plays its role in assisting, encouraging and empowering consumers to play their part by making small behaviour changes to reduce energy consumption and use resources more efficiently.    (Reckitt Benckiser, 2009)
 
The Packaging Covenant
In addition to the Carbon 20 and the Our Home Our Planet programs, we are signatory to the Packaging Covenant, a national voluntary initiative designed to minimise the environmental impact from the disposal of used packaging, while conserving resources through better design and production processes and facilitating the re-use and recycling of used packaging materials. (National Packaging Convenant Australia website, 2009)
 
Trees for Change
We are also the driving force behind the Trees for Change, a major carbon offset program that has now planted more than four million trees in British Columbia, Canada on previously deforested land. Overall, the program will offset four years of the greenhouse gas emissions from our global manufacturing energy use. This means the more than 16 billion Reckitt Benckiser products we produced at our worldwide factories from 2006 to 2008 and 2009 will effectively be ‘carbon neutral’ in terms of their manufacture.  (Reckitt Benckiser, 2009) (Trees for Change, 2009)

It is important to note that Trees for Change is NOT included within our Carbon 20 target.  Although carbon offsetting does have a part to play in tackling climate change, we have chosen to establish the Trees for Change target as a distinct goal as a demonstration of our real and ongoing commitment to sustainability.  (Reckitt Benckiser, 2007)
 

Who, besides government and industry bodies does Reckitt Benckiser have special partnerships with? 
Teamwork is central to our global values at Reckitt Benckiser. As such, we maintain close relationships with likeminded industry partners including household appliance and dishwasher manufacturers.
 
Links:

Reckitt Benckiser’s 2008 Sustainability Report: Consumer Led and Innovative
Reckitt Benckiser’s  2007 Sustainability Report: Making a World of Difference
Reckitt Benckiser’s Corporate Responsibility
Trees for Change
The National Packaging Covenant
The World Land Trust
 
Still have questions?
More information may be found within our latest sustainability report available online here.

If you have additional questions or inquiries, please contact us.  Contact Us
 
Works Cited:
(CEEP), C. E. (2007, August). Phosphates in Automatic Dishwasher Detergents. Retrieved 16 October 2009, from CEEP: http://www.ceep-phosphates.org
 
(2009 , October ). Fact Sheet No. 28 – Stormwater Management Guidelines for the Disposal of Soaps and Detergents. Retrieved October 20 , 2009, from Water Care: It's in your hands : http://www.amlrnrm.sa.gov.au
 
International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (AISE). (2007, 2008). Use of Phosphate in ADW detergents . Position Paper .
 
Reckitt Benckiser. (2008). Sustainibility Report 2008: Consumer Led and Innovative! Slough : Reckitt Benckiser. Reckitt Benckiser. (2008 ). Making a world of difference: Sustainability Report for the year 2007. Reckitt Benckiser.
 
The Hygiene Council. (2009). Hygiene in the Home. Tonic Life Communications & Hygiene Audit Systems .
 
The Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association. (2008). 2008 National Plastics Recycling Survey. Melbourne : Hyder Consulting.
 
Trees for Change . (2009). Trees for Change. Retrieved September 24, 2009, from Trees for Change: www.treesforchange.info
 
Sydney Water (2009). Inland sewage treatment plants . Retrieved October 13, 2009 , from Sydney Water : http://www.sydneywater.com.au
 
Queensland Government (2009) Waste Water. Retrieved October 26, 2009 from Queensland Government website:http://www.derm.qld.gov.au
 
Melbourne Water (2009) Sewerage Treatment – Today. Retrieved October 26, 2009 from Melbourne Water website: http://www.melbournewater.com.au
 
SA Water (2009) Water Treatment Plants. Retrieved October 26, 2009 from SA Water website: http://www.sawater.com.au
 
Water Corporation (2009) Waste Water Treatment and Disposal Retrieved October 26, 2009 from Water Corporation website http://www.watercorporation.com.au