Published 2 years ago.
About a 4 minute read.
Image: Kohler/Ann Sacks
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We have set bold sustainability goals and worked to understand the gaps we need to fill and the impacts we can make based on our business and
expertise. We’re guided on this path by our Design for Environment program, which takes into account the full life-cycle of our products.
As scientists continue to forecast ever more disastrous effects of climate
change, Kohler Co. — like so many
manufacturers — is grappling with what a resource-restricted future might look
like for the company, its suppliers, its customers and the communities it
touches around the world. For Kohler, this means going beyond our actions to
achieve net-zero emissions by 2035 across global operations, and to integrate
its environmental sustainability strategy into the design and manufacture of our
products. We’re reimagining our contribution to a better planet by paying
uncompromised attention to delivering beautifully designed and engineered
products that don’t harm the environment.
Despite the profound impact the pandemic has had on the world, most experts
believe that climate change remains the single biggest threat to the health of
the planet and people. As a global manufacturer of plumbing and energy products,
we are hyper-focused on improving our environmental footprint across our
operations and ensuring our products help people reduce their own impact on the
planet. This is where Design for
(DfE) comes in. DfE is a data-driven decision-making tool that enables us to
understand the environmental impact of our products and rethink design aspects
accordingly, by taking into account the full life-cycle of our products —
including impacts across our suppliers, Kohler operations, consumer use and end
of life. This includes looking at energy and water use, waste and material
health. DfE enables us to continue to produce high-performing, beautifully
designed products that are more environmentally friendly.
To make this truly effective, we’re empowering our operations and product
development teams with the necessary tools to make DfE a normal course of
business — by bringing its practices into key decision-making regarding
products, processes and experiences.
While DfE has led to many innovations across the business, perhaps the most
noteworthy example can be seen in the work of the KOHLER
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Using DfE methodology, we explored the usefulness of our manufacturing waste
streams, looking to nature as a model for sustainable processes. This led the
team to realize that within nature’s cycles of growth and decay, waste simply
doesn’t exist. The WasteLAB grew out of the decision to apply the systems we see
in nature to our manufacturing process.
Rather than look at leftovers from manufacturing processes as waste only suited
for a landfill, we began to see value in it as a source for new products. This
led to the development of the Crackle
— a decorative tile line created in partnership with ANN SACKS® that
launched in 2019.
And the work of WasteLAB didn’t stop there: The team is currently hard at work
exploring a variety of viable products and waste streams, including how to
convert wastewater sludge.
While we’re making strides toward our environmental goals, we recognize that we
can’t act alone. Ultimately, it will take a collaborative effort from
organizations across a variety of public and private sectors worldwide to ensure
the health of our planet. That’s why Kohler became a founding member of the 50L
Home — an international coalition of companies, civil
society organizations, intergovernmental organizations, local governments and
knowledge leaders, with experience and expertise in addressing water scarcity
and urban water issues.
Along with Kohler, Procter &
Electrolux and others have
taken up this challenge — to reimagine domestic water consumption globally by
reducing average per-person, per-day home water use from as much as 220L in some
regions down to 50L.
At Kohler, the 50L Home challenge will be an opportunity for us to drive
meaningful innovation in the space of next-generation water-efficiency solutions
without compromising a great user experience.
Kohler’s operating philosophy is based on the belief that our best can always be
better: better for the lives we touch, better for communities, better for the
planet, and better for business. We have set bold environmental sustainability
goals and put in the hard work of understanding the gaps we need to fill and the
impacts we can make based on our business and expertise. We’re guided on
this path by DfE and are prioritizing ways to manufacture products that have
minimal impact on the environment. We are engaging our associates worldwide in
this journey and focused on how we can reach the milestones in our
sustainability strategy, together. And more importantly, we’re doing this while
continuing to delight our consumers with the quality products the Kohler name
has been associated with since 1873.
Published Mar 19, 2021 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.