Skip to main content

ASU, Henkel pioneer 'green' product analysis

February 20, 2008

In a pioneering effort, Henkel, a Fortune Global 500 company, and ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability have made a three-year commitment to work on Life Cycle Impact Analysis (LCIA), a process that measures the total environmental impact in every stage of a product’s life.

Because Henkel’s products are designed to clean, treat and protect surfaces, inventing “greener” consumer packaged goods, such as detergents, soaps and an array of personal care products, requires complete understanding of their impact on the environment.

LCIA provides a significant opportunity to establish a new methodology that identifies stress to the environment and reveals how this stress may influence categories such as ozone depletion, global warming, acidification, environmental toxicology and other environmental factors.
Focusing on the LCIA of consumer products used daily, the Henkel-ASU partnership provides a new multidisciplinary platform, where material scientists and industrial ecologists will work together to innovate for a more sustainable future.

“We are delighted to invest in this program and pioneer the development in a new industry frontier for ecological development,” says Brad Casper, president and CEO of The Dial Corporation, a Henkel Company. “As sustainability is a part of our DNA and is a core value of our parent company, Henkel KGaA, we are looking to further strengthen our own environmental commitment as well as share our learned knowledge to develop new standards for our industry.”

While many practices aim for environmentally-friendly status by changes in product development or the supply chain management cycle, there is currently no way to measure the combined impact of these initiatives on the environment. The fundamental goal of the Henkel-ASU LCIA project is not only to quantify life cycle considerations (with an emphasis on carbon emissions) but to educate consumers and supply chain management, which are both becoming increasingly aware of sustainability, and to influence decisions based on this awareness.

The objectives of the partnership include acquiring a new framework of understanding and developing a Life Cycle Impact Analysis model/methodology, which Henkel will use to apply best business practices for consumer goods manufacturers; exchanging knowledge between ASU researchers and Henkel innovators about the ecological and environmental impacts during every stage of the product life cycle; and lending ecological definitions to terms often loosely used such as “green.”

“This Henkel-ASU partnership is an example of the ways that the Global Institute of Sustainability is working with corporations to reduce the environmental effects of industrial processes. Such collaborations can greatly expand the impact of our sustainability research,” says Jonathan Fink, the Julie Ann Wrigley Director of ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.