We’re in Paris talking to Jean-Baptiste Santoul, General Manager at Henkel.
“Actually, Achieving more with less is our new Sustainability Strategy 2030,” Jean-Baptiste says, “the goal is achieving more with less and tripling efficiency.”
“That sounds ambitious,” I say “does this include the entire value chain?”
“The entire value chain and all business sectors,” Jean-Baptiste says. “By 2030, we want to become three times more efficient. Triple the value we create without increasing our footprint made by our operations, products and services.”
Jean-Baptiste pauses for a few seconds to stress the importance of what he is saying. “For this we need the commitment of not only the 47,000 Henkel employees around the world, but we also intend to involve our customers, consumers, suppliers and industrial users.”
“We know that sustainability has been in your genes for many decades,” I say, “but in the last years you are accelerating the movement, aren’t you?”
“That’s true,” Jean-Baptiste replies, “we are convinced that not only do we have a duty to future generations to pursue sustainable development; sustainability also makes economic sense for us and is an important competitive factor. It reduces costs, drives innovation, and strengthens our position in the markets of the future.”
“More and more brands understand that they should operate according to the triple bottom line of People Planet Profit,” I say. “This is where brands today can still differentiate themselves from their competitors. People buy into these brands not for what they do and make, but for why and how they do it and make it.”
“Henkel’s leading position in sustainability is regularly confirmed by independent external ratings and rankings,” he adds. “One example is Henkel’s listing in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index ever since this was established in 1999. Last year, the company was named sustainability leader in the Non durable Household Products sector for the fifth time in a row.”
“And now you came up with Achieving more with less,” I say, “how does that work?”
Jean-Baptiste takes his iPad from his bag and puts it on the table. “Have a look,” he says pointing at the tablet, “Henkel is concentrating its sustainability activities on six focal areas. In each of these areas we aim at delivering more value, or reducing ecological footprint.
A round graphic, divided in six equal parts appears on the iPad, and in the middle it reads: “Deliver more value at a reduced footprint”.
I look at the tablet and try to figure out how to interpret the graphic “Can you give me an example of adding more value and decreasing the footprint?” I ask.
Jean-Baptiste pauses a few seconds as if he is looking for a story on his internal hard disk. “The easiest example is a liquid detergent. By concentrating the liquid, the volume and the weight decrease. This means there is less material and less water used in the production process. Less CO2 emission during transport. These aspects contribute to a reduction of the footprint,” he says, pointing at the bottom part of the graphic.
Jean-Baptiste takes a sip from his coffee before continuing. “On the other side of the model,” he adds while pointing at the top part of the circle, “we have to deliver more value. We do that by using less space in the warehouse and at the retail outlet. The smaller and more compact product leads to easier handling by the consumer. Less plastic in the trash can. This increases what we call Social Progress. And last but not least, the quality, or performance of the detergent remains the same, which is also an important part of the strategy.”
“I understand,” I say, “and if you do this with every product and all the processes along the value chain, you can obtain your sustainable goals by 2030. Talking about sustainability, if the coffee here is fair-trade, I wouldn’t mind having another one.”