The American Cleaning Institute (ACI)

Goal: Reduce Emissions


Climate science signals that if the world does not act now to decarbonize, the consequences could be devastating for communities, businesses and even entire countries. We recognize the need to hold global average temperature increases in line with the scientific consensus and we acknowledge our industry’s responsibility to play our part. 

Goal: Reduce GHG emissions across the cleaning products value chain as part of our industry’s collective efforts to confront climate change.

Effective climate action is needed on many fronts, including supporting customers to be environmentally conscious, creating innovative, low impact products and driving down manufacturing GHG emissions.

Many Companies, One Goal

GHG emissions occur throughout the cleaning products supply chain, from how the raw materials are extracted or grown to how products are made, transported and used.

To reduce these emissions in manufacturing and upstream supply chains, companies must quantify the amount of GHG emissions produced within their own walls. Once these emissions are better understood, targets can be set, ideally aligned with or even going beyond the global carbon budget for climate change prevention. Then we need to look beyond at our greater footprint and consider broader efforts in our upstream and downstream supply chains.

The industry is starting to make progress. GHG emissions are falling, and the use of renewable energy increasing. But collectively we still need to improve our efficiency and expand use of renewables in order to make a greater contribution to the fight against climate change.

It’s also important to recognize that a large proportion of GHG emissions come from the use of cleaning products. To help lower this end-use impact, the U.S. will need to focus on developing a greener electricity grid, and incentivize replacement of older washing machines and dishwashers with newer, more energy-efficient models. Meanwhile, the industry can be a positive force by continuing to invest in product innovations that lessen the end-use footprint.

Improving How Products Are Used

One of the main uses for cleaning products is washing clothes and dishes. Each load of clothes and dishes requires water, and energy is often used to heat that water to a specific temperature. While one load of laundry or dishes may seem like a small task, this task occurs in the majority of the 100 million U.S. households on an almost daily basis.

Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the efficiency of washing machines and dishwashers, which now use far less energy and water than 20 years ago. We can also credit innovations like enzymes, which have helped consumers remove tough stains avoiding rewashing. Even so, selecting the lowest temperature setting that gets clothes clean is critical to reducing emissions. 

Understanding this impact in the laundry space, detergents have evolved to work in cold water, which provides consumers with the same cleaning performance but far more efficiently. The challenge remains with adoption and behavior change in the home, as research suggests only  45 percent of loads are completed in cold water.


Improving Manufacturing Processes

GHG EmissionsEven though the use phase dominates the industry's overall carbon footprint, ACI members still need to focus on how products are made. Corporate measurement of GHG emissions is a critical starting point for meaningful improvement.

ACI took an active role in helping our members account for their GHG emissions back in 2008, at the start of our industry metrics collection program. The goal was to help build internal corporate capacity for consistent GHG emissions reporting within our member companies. Having started with only ten companies, the program grew to 37 over the course of a decade.

During that time, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of companies publicly disclosing emissions through sustainability reporting. In 2018, 54 percent of members published their previous year's GHG emissions through some form of public report or reporting system. CDP is one of these leading systems and, in 2018, 31 percent of ACI members reported using CDP disclosure.

While as an industry collectively we still need to move toward getting everyone accounting and understanding their GHG emissions, it is also important to start taking the next steps toward target-setting and emissions reductions.

The good news is that we are well underway with 44 percent of our members having targets to reduce GHG emissions, improve energy efficiency or increase the use of renewable energy.


  • CDP

    Climate Leadership Demonstrated by CDP A-Listers

    Nonprofit CDP runs a global disclosure system that helps companies manage their environmental impacts by measuring and understanding them. Every year, CDP names businesses leading on environmental performance to the annual A List. In 2018, CDP recognized more than 150 corporations, including our members BASF, Firmenich, International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), Kao Corporation, L’Oréal, Sekisui and Unilever. Firmenich and L’Oréal stand out with their ‘A’ designation across all three CDP performance areas of Climate Change, Water Security and Forests.

  • Science-Based Targets

    Setting Targets That Support the Global Climate Goal

    Targets adopted by companies to reduce GHG emissions are considered “science-based” if they are in line with what the latest climate science says is necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement – to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

    The Science Based Targets Initiative is leading the charge in championing and institutionalizing science-based targets  within businesses. The initiative has over 611 companies committed to taking action and has approved 232 science-based targets for GHG emissions reductions.

    These commitments highlight a desire to not stop at what is easily achievable, but to help ensure a company is doing at least what is necessary to meet the global goal. To date, 11 of our members have approved targets as part of this initiative: Colgate-Palmolive, Firmenich, Givaudan, IFF, Kao CorporationL’Oréal, P&G, Sekisui, Seventh Generation, Symrise and Unilever. Seven additional member companies – Corbion, CrodaHenkel, NovozymesRB, Takasago and Veolia – are seeking approval of their science-based targets.

  • RE100

    Driving to 100 Percent Renewable Energy

    Switching worldwide electricity consumption to renewables is transforming the global energy market and accelerating the transition to a clean economy. As part of The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative, more than 190 companies have made a public commitment to go “100% renewable.” This includes seven of our members – Corbion, Firmenich, Givaudan, IFF, P&G, RB and Unilever – all of whom have set goals to power their operations from renewable sources within specified timeframes.

  • Cold Water Saves

    Use Phase GHG Reductions Are Everyone's Business

    About 90 percent of the energy used by a washing machine during the laundry goes toward heating the water. But new product innovations mean a laundry cycle can now be done using cold water with no loss of performance, greatly reducing energy use.

    The difference to the planet is huge. If each household used cold water for four out of every five wash loads, they would reduce their annual CO2 emissions by 864 pounds – that’s the equivalent of planting more than one-third of an acre of forest. If everyone made the same switch, the overall reduction would be vast.

    Cold Water Saves, ACI’s joint effort with The Sustainability Consortium, has grown awareness among college students of the benefits of lower temperature washing. Two ACI companies are going above and beyond this effort to set bold goals in this space. P&G has set a goal to have 70 percent of all global washing machine loads conducted on a low-energy cycle by 2020, while Seventh Generation has set a target of having all consumer clothes washing in cold water, also by 2020.