Taking sustainability seriouslyBut smart disposal and purchasing decisions have no effect on the manufacturing, packaging, distribution, or delivery of household appliances. For these steps to be as efficient and sustainable as possible, it’s up to the corporations producing them to take action. Whirlpool, for one, has been committed to sustainability for decades. The sustainability office that Voglewede helms was formed in 1969, a lifetime before many of the appliance manufacturer’s peers began to address the issue. “Our products are in three quarters of American homes, Voglewede says. “We understand that gives us a unique responsibility to the people and communities we serve.” That responsibility starts with making efficient appliances that save consumers time, energy, and money. Take the humble dishwasher. The latest model Whirlpool launched in the U.S. cleans dishes three to four times more efficiently than typical hand washing methods, says Voglewede. That’s a step up from the twice-as-efficient standard for dishwashers measured in a University of Michigan study last year. But Whirlpool extends its environmental concern to the entire lifecycle of its products. Last year, the company achieved zero-waste-to-landfill at 25 of its 35 manufacturing sites, with a goal to reach 100 percent zero-waste-to-landfill in two years. “At first, when the pandemic hit, there was concern that all of the changing protocols would result in more waste,” Voglewede says. “But we put policies in place that actually allowed us to make significant waste reductions.” Much of the improvement came from finding new ways to recycle, he says.
Committing to cutting backWhirlpool was also the first company in the industry to set greenhouse gas emissions targets for its facilities. That happened back in 2003, and the company has reupped those targets several times in the years since. The latest targets are consistent with reductions required to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius, as directed by the 2016 Paris Agreement. Over the past four years, Whirlpool has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent. Whirlpool Corporation also recently announced a commitment to achieving net-zero energy by 2030. Much of the improvements in energy efficiency will come with investments in onsite and offsite renewable energy, Voglewede says. The company is also exploring more efficient production processes and new methods of carbon removal. Plus, it’s retrofitting its production facilities to improve insulation, heating, cooling, and venting. For Voglewede, sustainability is both a matter of doing the right thing and of doing good business. “Consumers want to engage with companies they know are acting responsibly,” he says. “And people can see the difference between companies that are doing less bad and companies that are doing good.”
Fulfilling our vision to be the world’s leading kitchen and laundry appliance company, in constant pursuit of improving life at home, requires us to think of our house and home not just in terms of the four walls around us and the communities in which we live, but of the planet that sustains us. Learn more about Whirlpool Corporation’s approach to sustainability here.
This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Home appliance manufacturers can help address the climate crisis on Jun 14, 2021.