Sustainability Glossary

Want to learn more about certain terms we use? In a comprehensive overview our Sustainability Glossary provides descriptions about the most important terms in the area of Sustainability.

All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

The search yielded no results




International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products, whose “Charter for Sustainable Cleaning” was introduced in 2005 as a voluntary initiative in all EU countries as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. The aim of this initiative is to encourage the whole soaps, detergents and maintenance products industry to undertake continual improvement in terms of sustainability. Henkel was the first company to sign this Charter in 2005.


Systematic monitoring and review according to specified criteria. Henkel carries out regular internal audits at its production and administration sites and, increasingly, at subcontractors and logistics centers to verify compliance with its Group-wide codes and standards. The audits are a key instrument for identifying risks and potential improvements and make a major contribution to the transfer of knowledge.


Biological diversity of life on earth. This is generally viewed on three levels: ecosystem diversity, species diversity, and genetic diversity. For Henkel, responsible management of raw materials and the protection of natural resources and biodiversity are inseparably linked with the principles of sustainable development.

Business Charter for Sustainable Development

A charter on the principles of environmental management that was adopted at WICEM II, the Second World Industry Conference of Environmental Management, in Rotterdam in April 1991. WICEM II was organized by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

Carbon dioxide

Gaseous combustion product of all carbon-containing substances, generally described by the chemical formula CO2. Considerable quantities of carbon dioxide are released to the atmosphere as a result of using fossil fuels such as coal and mineral oil, especially for generating power and for motorized transport. Henkel works continuously to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, not only from its production operations but also during the use phase of its products. 

Climate protection

Measures to reduce or prevent impacts on the planet’s climate caused by human activities. In its Sustainability Strategy, Henkel has defined “Energy and Climate” as one of its six focal areas and assigned a clear efficiency target to this area: a further reduction of 15 percent in energy consumption per production unit by 2015.

Code of Corporate Sustainability

A code with Group-wide applicability published by Henkel in 2005 setting forth its principles for sustainable and socially responsible business practices.


An umbrella term for compliance with legal regulations, corporate standards and codes, international guidelines, and voluntary codes of conduct. At Henkel, the Chief Compliance Officer is responsible for monitoring internal and external requirements. In so doing, he is supported by an interdisciplinary Compliance and Risk Committee, the Corporate Internal Audit department, and by some 50 locally appointed compliance officers all over the world.

Corporate Citizenship

Social engagement of the company going beyond direct business interests. Together with customers, consumers and non-profit organizations, Henkel is involved all over the world in three areas: supporting employee volunteering; emergency aid; and corporate and brand engagement for the common good.


To reduce or replace fossil fuels by renewable energy in energy production systems and processes.


Diversity of employees in terms of gender, age and nationality. Diversity is firmly anchored in Henkel’s corporate policies, based on the conviction that the different cultures and competencies of employees help a company to better understand its markets and to ensure long-term business success.

Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes

The first global share indexes, established in 1999, that consider ecological and social criteria as well as economic performance. Companies are assessed in cooperation with the SAM Group (Sustainable Asset Management, SAM). In 2011, for the fifth time in succession, Henkel was listed in both the global “DJSI World” and the European “DJSI STOXX” as the sustainability leader in the Nondurable Household Products sector.


Electrolysis (Greek: "to separate by means of electricity") describes the breakdown of a chemical compound under the influence of an electric current.


Gaseous, liquid or solid substances emitted to the atmosphere by industrial plants, vehicles with combustion engines, domestic heating systems, or other technical processes. The core of Henkel’s Sustainability Strategy is the aim of helping people to live well by generating value while using less resources and causing less emissions.

Energy efficiency

The relationship between benefit obtained and the energy used. As a manufacturer of nondurable consumer products and industrial products and technologies, Henkel’s activities are not very energy-intensive. Often, it is during the use phase of the products that the most energy is consumed. For this reason, Henkel not only concentrates on increasing the energy efficiency of the processes in its facilities but also on creating a competitive advantage by providing products and technologies that are more energy-efficient in use. 

Enquete commissions

Parliamentary bodies of the Federal Republic of Germany created to deal with complex issues by investigating both academic and practical aspects.


High-molecular proteins which act as biocatalysts. Certain enzymes are used in laundry detergents to remove stubborn soiling substances because they accelerate their degradation.

Factor 3

Henkel’s long-term goal for the year 2030 and the core of its Sustainability Strategy. Within the next 20 years the company intends to triple the value it creates for the footprint made by its operations, products and services. This goal to become three times more efficient is called “Factor 3” for short. It can be achieved in different ways: either by reducing the footprint to one third of today’s level while delivering the same value, or by tripling the value created while leaving the footprint at the same level.

Focal areas

Six focal areas that reflect the challenges of sustainable development as they relate to Henkel’s operations: Performance; Health and Safety; Water and Wastewater; Materials and Waste; Energy and Climate; Social Progress. In each of these focal areas, Henkel drives progress along the entire value chain through its products and technologies as part of its Sustainability Strategy.


A figurative term used to describe the resource consumption of an individual or a group of individuals. Henkel distinguishes between the ecological footprint and the packaging footprint. The ecological footprint refers to the totality of resources that the company consumes through its products and services along the entire value chain. In its Sustainability Strategy, Henkel has set itself the goal of improving its ecological footprint by a factor of 3. The packaging footprint describes the quantity of packaging materials that the company consumes each year. The corporate goal is to continuously reduce the packaging footprint wherever this can be done without compromising on quality.


All kinds of natural hazards that could endanger the environment in which people live. At Henkel, increasing attention is being paid to the georisks for the company, and the analysis of production risks is a key aspect of our corporate risk management activities. During site inspections, possible georisks resulting from local geographical factors are assessed. These include location in areas where earthquakes or floods are likely to occur.

Global Packaging Project (GPP)

A project initiated in 2010 by the Consumer Goods Forum. The aim of the project is to develop standardized evaluation processes and indicators, with which packaging solutions can be analyzed with regard to their economic, ecological and social impacts. Henkel has been actively participating in the GPP since 2010.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

An independent global initiative which has developed an internationally recognized framework for sustainability reporting by organizations. The GRI framework includes standard guidelines for use by all companies as well as sector-specific supplements. In a pilot project conducted as long ago as 1999, Henkel evaluated the GRI’s sustainability reporting guidelines. Since then, Henkel has engaged continuously in a constructive and critical dialogue with the GRI in order to improve the quality of reporting and to enhance the practical relevance of the guidelines.


Data collected throughout the company to provide insights into the economic, ecological and social performance of the company. These indicators help Henkel to identify potential improvements, steer programs, monitor target achievement, and inform the public about its performance and progress in compact form.

Intermodal transport

Intermodal transport involves using more than one mode of transportation. At Henkel, this means that more and more transports are being switched from road to rail, since a train emits about one-third of the CO2 of a truck when transporting the same weight of goods.

International Labour Organization (ILO)

A specialized agency of the United Nations based in Geneva, Switzerland. The ILO concentrates mainly on drawing up and overseeing the implementation of international labor and social standards to promote socially acceptable and fair globalization as well as to creating decent work for all as a central prerequisite for fighting poverty. The bodies of the ILO bring together representatives of the governments of the member states as well as those of employers and workers. Henkel’s Social Standards are partly derived from the guidelines of the ILO.

ISO 14001

An internationally recognized standard for environmental management in business organizations. Certification is performed by independent accredited auditors.

ISO 26000

ISO 26000 provides guidance and recommendations for all types of organizations to help them operate in a socially responsible manner. The guidelines were published in November 2010 as a voluntary standard. Unlike other ISO standards such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001, the ISO 26000 does not include provisions for certification of management systems. Henkel examined the requirements of ISO 26000 in detail at the beginning of 2011. With a few exceptions, the criteria of ISO 26000 are already well covered by the existing Henkel standards (Code of Conduct, SHE Standards, Social Standards, etc.)

ISO 50001

An international standard covering the requirements on an organization for establishing, implementing, maintaining and improving an energy management system. Certification is performed by independent accredited auditors.

ISO 9001

An international standard specifying the requirements for a comprehensive and consistent quality management system covering all stages of a product, from development and materials procurement through to production and delivery to the customer. Certification is performed by independent accredited auditors.

Life cycle analyses

A holistic and strategy-oriented product policy that considers the entire life cycle of a product, from development, manufacturing, distribution and use to reuse or recycling. Henkel uses life cycle analyses to identify where the greatest environmental impacts occur in the different product categories. The results are used to define measures intended to achieve an overall improvement in the sustainability profile of the products.


The sustainability topics that are of relevance to a business activity. A materiality analysis is performed to identify these. In doing so, Henkel dialogues continuously with sustainability-focused institutions, international rating agencies and analysts, and academia.

Product Carbon Footprint (PCF)

To measure the significance of individual products for climate protection, attempts are being made around the world to determine product carbon footprints. Unlike a complete life cycle analysis, this covers only the climate-relevant greenhouse gas emissions along the value chain of a product – that is, from purchasing the raw materials to manufacture and use to disposal. However, there is as yet no standardized method of determining the carbon footprint of a product. As a project partner in the “Product Carbon Footprint Project” in Germany, we calculated the carbon footprint for various Henkel products. The experience we gained from this project has also been contributed to a DIN working group for development of an international ISO standard (ISO 14067).

Renewable energies

Types of energy obtained from renewable or regenerative sources. These include solar power, biomass, wind power, hydro power, and geothermal power. Regarding climate protection, Henkel focuses on the efficient provision and use of energy in order to avoid climate-damaging emissions in the first place. Nevertheless, Henkel regularly checks whether and where the use of renewable energy sources for generating electrical power and heat is economically worthwhile for us and can make an additional contribution to climate protection.

Responsible Care®

A global chemical industry initiative to continuously improve safety, health and environmental protection, independently of legal regulations. The chemical industry in more than 45 countries has now joined this initiative. Henkel committed to Responsible Care in 1994 and is an active Responsible Care member in many countries.

Responsible Supply Chain Process

Five-step process to improve sustainability along Henkel's supply chain. This focuses on two main challenges: ensuring that all of our suppliers comply with our defined Group-wide sustainability standards, and working purposefully with strategic suppliers. The five steps are: risk assessment, self-assessment, analysis, audit, and development.

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

An organization which arose out of an initiative by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and a number of interested representatives of the business community, aiming to find suitable ways of cultivating palm oil sustainably and combating the exhaustive cultivation of rainforests and the destruction of wetlands, especially in Indonesia. Initially, in 2002, the initiative took the form of informal cooperation between a number of companies, trade associations, and the WWF. In August 2003, the RSPO was officially established in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The establishment meeting was attended by 200 participants from 16 countries – including Henkel. The initiative is headquartered in Zürich and the secretariat is located in Kuala Lumpur.


Abbreviation for Safety, Health, Environment. This abbreviation has established itself in recent years as a collective term to describe the notion of environmental protection expanded to include the aspects of safety and health. In some countries, the order of the letters in the abbreviation may change, e.g. “HSE” or “EHS”. At Henkel, binding SHE Standards with worldwide applicability were introduced throughout the Group as long ago as 1997.

Social Standards

Standards for drawing up employment contracts and for employee rights. Henkel’s Social Standards, introduced in 2006 and updated in 2010, are derived from the guidelines of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Global Compact, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the Social Accountability Standard (SA 8000).


Substances in which other substances can be dissolved up to a high level of concentration. The term is commonly understood as referring only to organic solvents, although water is often used as a solvent. Solvents are often the subject of controversy in public debate because of their possible negative impact on health and the environment. Henkel has therefore long been working to replace solvents in the formulations of its products. Henkel’s vision is to be able to eliminate solvents completely in its contact and assembly adhesives by 2030.


Groups of persons whose interests are linked with those of the company and with whom Henkel maintains a continuous dialogue. They include not only shareholders and employees, but also customers, suppliers, creditors, local communities, government authorities, media representatives, and environmental and consumer organizations.

Strategic principles

Three principles to achieve the company’s sustainability goals and drive sustainability in its business processes. Henkel has defined its products, partners, and people as strategic principles.


Henkel defines sustainability according to the Vision 2050 of the WBCSD: "People live well and within the resource limits of the planet."

Sustainability Council

A central decision-making body, which steers Henkel’s global sustainability activities and monitors their implementation. The Council coordinates the global activities in the operating business sectors, the corporate functions, and the regional and national companies.

Sustainability goals

Goals defined Group-wide in regard to sustainability. Henkel has stated its long-term ambition for 2030: to improve the relationship between the value it creates and its ecological footprint by a factor of three. To achieve this 20-year goal, Henkel has set itself concrete interim targets for the next five years. The company concentrates its activities on six focal areas. Three of these relate to the value created, and three to the ecological footprint. Overall, Henkel intends to improve the relationship in these two dimensions by 30 percent over the coming five years (5 to 6 percent per year).

Sustainability Master

An assessment model developed in 2011 to analyze the economic, ecological and social aspects of Henkel products along the entire value chain. The core of this model is a matrix for mapping the hot spots (areas in which the greatest environmental impacts typically occur) in each product category. This makes it possible to compare the sustainability performance of two products or processes and to show very clearly where performance has improved or has worsened

Sustainability Strategy 2030

The corporate strategy developed together with all business sectors and with outside experts to guide all Henkel’s sustainability activities. This strategy addresses one of the central challenges we will face in the future: to decouple growth from resource consumption. At the core of this is the goal of achieving more with less and tripling efficiency by 2030 (see Factor 3).

Sustainable consumption

The use of goods and services that meet consumers’ needs while protecting the environment and conserving resources. Henkel sees sustainability as a task for all of society and thus develops products which enable consumers to use energy and water efficiently. Through a variety of communication means, Henkel also tries to promote a responsible attitude when using the products.

Sustainable Development

A guideline for achieving a long-term sustainable society, as defined in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) and adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio in 1992. It demands the balancing of economic ecological and social goals in such a way that the people living on our planet today can meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Henkel committed to the principles of sustainable development in 1991 (by signing the Business Charter for Sustainable Development of the International Chamber of Commerce).

United Nations Global Compact

A global initiative calling upon business to embrace ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. With more than 8,000 participating companies, this is the largest and most important network for corporate responsibility in the world today. Henkel joined the Global Compact in 2003.

Value added statement

Statement regarding the value added and distributed by a commercial organization within a certain period. Henkel’s value added statement shows that large parts of the generated sales value flow back into the global economy. The majority of this is appropriated for employees in the form of salaries and benefits.

Value chain

All of the steps involved in the production and processing of a product, from the extraction of raw materials through to disposal. For Henkel, sustainable development means acting responsibly along the entire value chain. Experts therefore analyze and assess the entire life cycle of the products. 

Virtual coverage

A virtual power plant is a network of decentralized power generation units, such as photovoltaic systems, hydroelectric power plants, biogas, wind turbines and combined heat and power plants. These networks can reliably provide electrical power, which will replace supply-independent power from large power plants. Some would misinterpret the word virtual to mean that the plants do not generate electricity. However, the virtual power plants are called virtual because they have more than one location.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

A CEO-led global organization for promoting sustainable development. The WBCSD offers companies a platform for sharing experience and representing business viewpoints in cooperation with government agencies, NGOs, and international organizations. Henkel is one of the founding members of the WBCSD.