A hand strokes through a calm water surface in front of the horizon

Protect and restore biodiversity with a focus on forests, land and water, and ensure responsible resource stewardship.

Growing consumption and resource scarcity due to an increasing global population and accelerated economic activity are putting more and more pressure on ecosystems. Conserving biodiversity is important to Henkel, as well-functioning ecosystems and soil health are essential as a basis for sustainable agriculture and the use of raw materials in production.

YouTube Thumbnail Henkel Sustainability Film 2022 Protect natural resources (Thumbnail)

Protection and restoration of biodiversity

Our sustainability strategy aims to protect and restore biodiversity – with a particular focus on forests, land and water. In addition to applying these principles to the activities at our own sites, we also promote the responsible management of raw materials and the use of ingredients based on renewable raw materials. We use these to optimize the overall characteristics of our products, wherever this is compatible with environmental, economic and social considerations. Renewable raw materials are already key ingredients in many of our products, such as detergents, soaps, shampoos, glue sticks and wallpaper adhesives. We are also committed to environmental and social considerations when purchasing renewable raw materials.

We follow current efforts to protect biodiversity and deforestation very closely. We continue to develop our approach in line with the resulting expectations. This also includes dialogue and collaboration with external stakeholders, as well as industry initiatives. In 2020, we signed up to the Business for Nature’s call to action that urged governments to incorporate nature in their policymaking and since 2023 Henkel is a member of the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) Corporate Engagement Program. We are working with the development organization Solidaridad to support smallholder farmers in the palm oil and palm kernel oil sector in projects that promote climate-smart agricultural practices.

“Zero net deforestation” as a goal for increased biodiversity

Forests function as carbon sinks and are key to protecting biodiversity. They also provide us with wood and other raw materials. Our Policy on Deforestation-Risk Commodities details our commitment to sourcing our raw materials sustainably and not through deforestation. Our goal is to prevent the deforestation of primary and secondary forests with significant ecological value. These include peat lands and other high-carbon stock areas. We are committed to zero net deforestation and also expect our suppliers to support this as part of our Responsible Sourcing Policy.

Reducing paper consumption, ending deforestation

Demand for paper products is increasing worldwide. The latest study by the World Wildlife Funds (WWF) concludes that global consumption of wood, at 4.3 to 5 billion cubic meters annually, is higher than the amount that can be sustainably harvested from forests. If wood is sourced and produced in an unsustainable manner, it can lead to deforestation in areas of high ecological value. We aim to source 100 percent of the paper and board material used in our packaging as recycled material or – where the use of virgin fiber is required – from sustainably managed forestries.

We expect our suppliers to support our goal of zero net deforestation. Increasing transparency in the supply chain is the focus of our cooperation with our suppliers of paper-based packaging. This involves the traceability of the materials we buy.

In 2023, we conducted a comprehensive survey of our main suppliers in the corrugated board and printed paper sector. According to the survey information, most suppliers use at least one or more certification systems. This means that 89 percent of the virgin paper and cardboard procured is certified.

Responsible use of palm oil and palm kernel oil

A hand holds a fruit of the oil palm.

Palm-oil- and palm-kernel-oil-based ingredients are a powerful example of how we actively promote sustainability in our supply chain. Palm oil, especially palm kernel oil and its derivatives, are important renewable raw materials needed to produce surfactants that we use in our detergents, household cleaners, hair and body care products.

For this reason, our goal is to ensure that the ingredients for our products are made from sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil. With this in mind, we work with the companies from which we source our raw materials and with other partners to exert influence on the palm oil supply chain, from smallholder farmers to consumers.

Smallholder farmers produce about 40 percent of the world’s palm oil, yet their productivity and the quality of their products are much lower compared to large plantations. They often lack access to technical knowledge and financial services that are crucial to improving their production. Some farmers are also concerned that access to the palm oil market will be limited if their harvests do not meet the criteria set out by the RSPO. In collaboration with the development organization Solidaridad, Henkel is addressing these challenges since 2013. We have partnered with Solidaridad on initiatives in Colombia, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Nigeria since 2013. To date, more than 39,300 smallholder farmers have been reached and trained.

Henkel is a committed founding member of the Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil (FONAP) in Germany and is a member of several of its working groups. We are also actively involved in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The RSPO standard increasingly includes compliance with human rights along the entire supply chain, in addition to environmental aspects.

Careful use of water as an important resource

The Earth’s water resources are not only unequally distributed, they are also threatened by climate change as well as increasing pollution and overuse. We recognize the importance of using this resource responsibly, particularly as healthy water ecosystems are key to protecting biodiversity.

At Henkel, water plays an important role along our value chain. We use water as a part of our production processes and as an ingredient in our products. Many of our products also require water during the use phase.
For this reason, reducing water usage during the production and use of our products is important for us. In order to identify suitable approaches for improvement, we have worked closely with various stakeholders. For example, we are investigating our impact on water along the value chain. This includes examining the water footprint of raw materials, our production processes and the consumption of water during the use of our products, as well as the treatment of wastewater. In our new water position, we further outline our approach to engaging in responsible water stewardship.

Additionally, we are committed to ensuring that our consumer products do not cause any microplastics to enter the environment.