Sustainability: A top-priority for our industry
“Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”- World Commission on Environment and Development (the “Brundtland Commission”, 1987).
Sustainable Development is built on three inter-related pillars: environmental protection, social development and economic growth. In simple terms, sustainable development ensures that today’s actions do not harm tomorrow’s generations.
Climate change, for example, is caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which have been accumulating in the earth’s atmosphere over the past 150 years of industrial activity. According to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the continuing rise of the earth’s average temperature is expected to cause catastrophic damage in many parts of the world over the coming decades unless GHG emissions can be quickly brought under control. Solving this problem is all the more difficult because of growing demand for energy – one of the major causes of GHG emissions – as rapidly industrialising nations begin to play an increasingly important role in the global economy.
As the earth’s temperature rises, glaciers will melt. This will have major consequences, not the least of which is that it will drastically reduce the amount of drinking water available in many parts of the world.
What does this mean for us?
Soaps, detergents and maintenance products play a vital role in ensuring cleanliness and hygiene – in people’s homes and in public places like schools and hospitals, hotels and restaurants. They are also responsible for preserving and restoring our belongings and provide us with an overall sense of well-being. They are essential to health and quality of life, and are therefore integral to social development, one of the three pillars of Sustainable Development.
But these products also require energy and water, not just in the way they are produced but even more so in the way that consumers use them. Indeed, their consumption accounts for the vast majority of their environmental ‘footprint’ – the total environmental impact of a product, from its design and manufacture to its use and disposal. This is why it is so important that consumers know how to use products responsibly, so that they can fully enjoy the benefits without wasting precious resources.
What can we do about it?
Our industry is fully committed to addressing the principle of sustainable development. Manufacturers are continually working to improve the efficiency and sustainability of their industrial and logistical activities, and to use ingredients that are more environmentally friendly. They also engage in numerous initiatives to inform consumers about how to use their products in a sustainable manner.
Cefic and A.I.S.E. have a long track record of being proactive on this front. The tabs in this section highlight some specific developments, campaigns and initiatives that all seek to encourage sustainable production and consumption of our products.