Reflections on Ecolab's sustainability impact.
In our business, we see the signs of progress all around us. Whether it’s saving water and energy or reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions, there’s a growing realization that these priorities go hand in hand with business growth and profitability.
We all must work together to make the most of this opportunity. If we seize it now, we can build an economy that offers sustainable growth for all without creating additional harm to our planet.
At Ecolab, we are privileged to help drive these positive developments forward. Our expertise puts us at the crossroads of global macro trends. Around the world, we help our customers deal with the demands of population growth, economic growth, urbanization, changing consumer habits, climate change and water scarcity.
We do this in ways big and small, from providing a more water- and energy-efficient dishmachine program to your favorite restaurant to reducing water for steel mills, car manufacturers and power plants. In each case, we help our customers work more efficiently and reduce costs, while lowering their impact on the environment and saving energy and natural resources.
In 2018, we helped our customers around the world save 188 billion gallons of water, equivalent to the drinking water needs of 650 million people. We are on our way to achieving our 2030 goal of saving 300 billion gallons, enough for one billion people. We also helped customers save 19 trillion British thermal units (BTUs) of energy, avoid 2.4 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions and eliminate 54 million pounds of waste.
We can do that because of our mix of service, expertise insights and innovation. Using connected digital technology and data science, we can do things that were simply impossible just a few years ago. Today, for instance, we have 40,000 of our connected 3D TRASAR™ smart water sensors deployed worldwide, across a host of industries. Thanks to that network, we can spot trends that were previously invisible and address problems before they happen. That helps our customers adjust to changing circumstances in real-time, boost efficiency and minimize their environmental impacts.
By the nature of our work, we help companies achieve their sustainability goals. In the aggregate, this moves the world closer to the ambition of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal 6: Ensuring access to clean water and sanitation for all.
Meanwhile, we are steadily improving sustainability within our own operations. We are making systematic investments in reducing, reusing and recycling water at our plants around the world. Building on steady efficiency gains, we are closing in on our greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of -10 percent by 2020, and thanks to a renewable power deal that we closed in 2018, we are set to surpass it very significantly.
At the same time, we kept more than 71 million pounds of plastic out of landfills in the last five years. We did that by using recycled plastic instead of virgin resin and by thinking constantly about how we can design our products more efficiently. One example: using concentrated solid chemistries in shrink wrap instead of bulky liquids in large containers, which reduces plastic needed for packaging by 99 percent.
Given what I see at Ecolab and beyond, I am optimistic that we can collectively forge a sustainable path forward. Much of the technology we need to continue to innovate is here today. Now is the time to step up our efforts and expand our positive impact.
We as business leaders have a special role to play. We can’t turn the world around all by ourselves, but together, we are key to getting things moving. That’s why we must set big, ambitious goals. Change is always hard. It’s best to make sure the returns are worth the work. So we say, “Go big.” And that is really what Ecolab is equipped to drive: change that matters.
Douglas M. Baker, Jr.
Chairman and CEO