Diversey, Inc. is a global provider of cleaning and hygiene products in the hospitality, healthcare, food and beverage, food service, retail and facility management sectors. Diversey’s purpose is to protect and care for people through leading hygiene, infection prevention and cleaning solutions. The following is an inside look at Diversey’s sustainability initiatives from VP of Sustainability, Daniel Daggett.
Diversey’s sustainability strategy is called “Facilitators for Life”, which is comprised of 12 goals across three different pillars: Social Responsibility, Environmental Stewardship, and Sustainable Innovations. It follows the classic sustainability triple bottom line model of people, planet and profit. Instead of talking about profit, we really talk about our products and technologies and the value that they bring to our customers and the industry.
Our goals on the environmental side are focused on our supply chain, and we have a reduction target of 10% for greenhouse gas, energy, and waste. We have a goal to eliminate injuries in our workplaces, ensuring that we are doing everything we can to keep our employees safe and healthy. We have a goal to help our employees understand best practices in terms of ethical business practices, training them on our corporate code of conduct. We also have a goal around engaging our suppliers on sustainability with a supplier code of conduct that that addresses safety, environmental issues, and governance, which helps us ensure our suppliers are following the best international practices as it relates to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.
We also have a goal for creating shared value, which is all about collaborating with customers around sustainability. For some programs, like “Soap for Hope” and “Linens for Life”, we've identified waste streams associated with our customer’s facilities; we then take those materials and create a revenue source to help groups that may have limited access to resources. This initiative takes waste from our customer’s operations, and then repurposes the waste into new materials. The social side of this is really important in terms of creating a source of livelihood for those groups. It's a popular program with our customers, forming positive collaborations around sustainability.
Most importantly, when we think about our industry, we think of our products and services and the sustainability value that we can bring to the marketplace. We have targets focused on product stewardship, such as our goal to reduce our packaging footprint and to ensure responsible use of chemicals. We want to make sure that we are not using chemicals of concern that are going to be unsafe for our customers, unsafe for building occupants, or even unsafe for our employees.
We use a sustainability scorecard for 100% of our innovations. Every new product that we’ve launched as a company utilizes a method to identify sustainability opportunities. Even if sustainability is not the key driver for an innovation, we often find ways to improve sustainability across the lifecycle of our innovations.
The Impact on the Cleaning Solutions Industry
We have matured as an industry such that there are basic expectations for all companies, including ethical business practices and environmental stewardship. This is a positive thing, because it raises everybody up to a certain level, even if you're a small organization. That is the base of the pyramid and as companies really take sustainability seriously, it becomes part of their culture; it becomes an organization’s purpose, and a reason that people want to work there. It can be a sense of employee engagement and pride. We're not just here to make a few dollars and put some cleaning products out in the marketplace. Diversey’s purpose is to protect and care, so we’ve integrated sustainability across our enterprise.
With the concept of circularity, there is an image commonly used that displays the flow of technical and biological materials forming the wings of the butterfly. These materials don't flow through — they get captured and then they enter into this cycle, forming the wings of a butterfly to create a virtuous loop where the materials are continually reused and repurposed. That’s the notion of the circular economy.
In the United States, the recycling numbers for all plastics are pretty dismal, with rates only around 9%. Most of our products are packaged in rigid HDPE bottles, where the recycling rates are much better (around 30%), but there is still a lot of room for improvement. One of the biggest ways we have improved is to eliminate ready-to-use products wherever we can and replace them with concentrated products. Diversey products, like RTD, can reduce packaging up to 98%, compared to ready-to-use products. We need to do more in partnership with our customers, waste collectors, recyclers, and resin producers. The end goal is circularity, to make sure everything produced can be caught in a recycling stream and repurposed into new packaging or other products.
There are a lot of resources to help organizations with their sustainability journey. Frameworks like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) can help identify all the possible issues that your organization can examine as part of a sustainability strategy. It can be overwhelming, but focusing on a set of material issues is a great way to get started.
If you are just getting started, congratulations. All epic journeys begin with one step and acknowledging the importance of sustainability is the first step. You are going to be faced with a lot of questions. What do we tackle first? How expensive is this going to be? Who is going to do all the extra work? There are BSCs in the industry that are world class when it comes to sustainability and can offer a great template on what to do. Benchmarking against competitors, engaging customers, and listening to suppliers are all great ways to brainstorm to identify a path forward.
Dr. Daniel Daggett has a bachelor’s degree in biology and a PhD in Environmental Toxicology from the University of Wisconsin, where he received a fellowship from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Berman and Blieir Award for his research.
Dr. Daggett started his career as a toxicologist with the Wisconsin Department of Health, where he was responsible for developing environmental regulations and protecting public health. Currently, he is the Vice President of Sustainability at Diversey where he is responsible for developing and implementing sustainability strategies across the business.
Dr. Daggett has published widely and is a frequent speaker on a variety of topics such as indoor air quality, toxicology, sustainability, life cycle assessment, carbon footprint, and product safety.