November 1, 2023

Seventh Generation's Corporate Consciousness Report: 2022 Update

2022 Corporate Consciousness Report - Laundry drying in sun on clothesline

At Seventh Generation, we have a superpower - the power to use our business for good.  With climate change already harming the planet and its people, we’re fighting back and, hopefully, inspiring others to join us in a climate revolution.   


Our 2022 Corporate Consciousness Report is a public accounting of our 2025 goals. The world has changed a lot since we set these goals in 2018.  The climate crisis is even more urgent and dovetails with the threat of a global biodiversity collapse.  The human impacts of racial and socioeconomic inequality are only more heightened with every storm, fire, and drought. There is increased public scrutiny on corporate sustainability claims and calls for more meaningful action. On the other hand, there have also been advances in technology, such as renewable energy electrification, and policy solutions, such as plastics and regenerative agriculture, that can help to drive industry-level course correction.  There are new opportunities to unlock long standing challenges with key ingredients, such as palm oil, and a groundswell of calls for stronger climate action ‘now’. 


The skeptics are right though, we need to dig in and put it all out there – our ambitions, our pathways, our impacts, our failures, and our questions. So this will be the last accounting of our 2025 goals. Next year you can expect our update to focus on a bolder set of goals that draw on our strengths, transparently address our weaknesses, and are commensurate with the challenges we face today. In the meantime… 


2025 GOALS:
  • Scopes 1 & 2: 100% of our Scope 1 and 2 GHG absolute emissions will be reduced (achieved!) 
  • Scope 3:   
    • 90% of our Scope 3 GHG absolute emissions from the use of sold products will be reduced (lagging) 
    • 80% of our Scope 3 emissions from remaining categories will be reduced (progressing) 
    • Interim 2025 target to reduce Scopes 1 through 3, inclusive of consumer use, by 50% (progressing) 
A graph of a graph showing the amount of gas emissions in 2022
Our Footprint

Scope 3 emissions associated with consumer use of our products continue to dominate our footprint and account for 92% of our total emissions. The remaining 8% of our emissions are attributed to other Scope 3 categories including ingredients and materials, packaging, transportation, and employee travel. In 2022, we solidified a 3-year, All In On Climate Plan to realistically tackle these emissions while also advancing climate justice.   

Scopes 1 & 2: By working with our superpower collaborators (aka our utilities) we eliminated our Scope 1 & 2 emissions in 2020 through purchase of renewable electricity and natural gas!  

Scope 3 Consumer Use: When we set our goal to reduce the Scope 3 emissions associated with the use of our products (i.e., hot water heating), we knew it would be a formidable task.  We also knew that climate advocacy would be our (not so secret) weapon. In 2022, with our partners, we continued to work across the U.S. to cut ties - once and for all - with the fossil fuel industry.  We had some important wins and some areas for continued attention.   


In 2022, we applauded the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act – the milestone effort that dedicates significant Federal resources to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions. Working with the NY Renews coalition we secured one win, amid other losses, when New Yorkers voted to pass a $1.5B bond as a down payment towards the $15B we seek for climate justice. In California, we were proud to work with other companies like Waste Management to enact the Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act. We continued to fight, alongside Indigenous-led organizations like Honor the Earth, to protect vulnerable communities from fossil fuel-ed disasters like the Line 3 pipeline.   


Scope 3 Other Sources: We also published the award winning Climate Fingerprints Report which challenges companies, and ourselves, to cut off fossil fuels by changing how corporate spending on banking, investments, insurance, and marketing services can inadvertently support the fossil fuel industry. With our partners from Clean Creatives and TOPO, we learned that our spending on these services can have an outsized impact on GHG emissions while also inadvertently lending our support to business partners that are actively supporting the fossil fuel industry.  We also dove into how corporate advocacy and philanthropy can be further activated to advance climate action and climate justice. In 2023, we plan to further dig into our Climate Footprint and Fingerprints and change how we source and who partner with to achieve meaningful and transparent climate action. 


Scope 3 Ingredients, Materials, Suppliers, and Transport: Reducing our other Scope 3 emissions – those from ingredients and materials and how we manufacture and transport our products – is also no small challenge, but more within our control.  Given the scale of the looming climate disaster, we are doubling down on interventions that will help us to lower our footprint, while also providing valuable insights and solutions for our industry, including our parent company Unilever NA.  


2022 Absolute Scope 3 GHG Emissions (excluding consumer use) (MT CO2e)
*2022 updates to data sources and methods, including updated emissions factors, additional primary data, and a new Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) methodology resulted in changes to previously reported emissions  

In line with our All In On Climate Plan, in 2022 we focused on two key drivers 1) our Tier 1 Manufacturing partners and 2) product related materials and ingredients. We expanded our Green Power Program to include additional suppliers, supporting expanded renewable energy use in our Tier 1 manufacturing facilities.  We also reduced GHG-intensive citrates in some laundry products and increased sales of our 8x EasyDose™ laundry detergent, which has a lower GHG impact that other laundry products we sell.  We invested funds from the Seventh Generation Foundation and the Carbon Fund in initiatives to change the way we source palm derived ingredients (see Sustainable Sourcing for additional detail). 





Low carbon sodium citrate 



Low carbon citric acid 




Though we still have a way to go to reach our 80% GHG reduction by 2030 goal, through investment in advocacy, our supply partners, our products and ingredients, and the systems that support them, we believe we are moving in the right direction and demonstrating a feasible path forward. Stay tuned for more in 2023!  


2025 GOALS: 
  • 100% of packaging will be reusable and reused, recyclable and recycled, or biodegradable and degraded plus (partially achieved) 
  • 75% of virgin plastic will be eliminated (progressing); 
  • 50% total plastic will be reduced with one-third (1/3) of the reduction coming from plastic-free innovations and systems that disrupt single-use solutions (progressing but slowly) 

Packaging accounts for about 80% of our plastic use, and in 2022, 99% of our packaging was technically ‘recyclable’ or ‘biodegradable’.  However, we all know the sad reality that most of that plastic was probably not recycled or biodegraded, so instead of waiting around for a fix to the recycling system, we’ve focused on eliminating virgin plastic and moving toward zero plastic innovations.   


In 2022, 75% of our plastic packaging use was post-consumer recycled material, 1% biobased, and only 24% virgin plastic.  We’re making progress toward eliminating virgin plastic by experimenting, building on lessons, learned, and then scaling the best solutions across categories. In 2022, we solved a technical hurdle by redesigning our bottles, caps and spouts to achieve 100% PCR in our liquid laundry and fabric softener packaging systems. 


We have reduced our absolute plastics use since 2018, but frankly, much of this reduction is attributable to shifts in our product portfolio and lower 2022 sales (as compared to the 2020 Covid pandemic highs).  However, we’re also proud to report some meaningful, innovation-driven successes. We reduced weight in our laundry detergent, concentrated laundry detergent, and fabric softener packaging systems.  We also explored the tradeoffs between recyclability and absolute plastic reductions when we shifted a to stand up pouch packaging for our Oxy Booster Packs.  The change resulted in an 83% plastic reduction but a shift from ‘commonly recyclable’ packaging to ‘in store recycling’ packaging.  Without a perfect (i.e. feasible, economical, impactful) alternative to plastics, we anticipate this is a conversation we will continue to explore. 


In 2021 and 2022, we piloted the now discontinued  Zero Plastic lines which offered laundry, dish, hand, and cleaning products in recyclable (or reusable) steel canisters. While this innovation did not perform as we hoped it would, we learned a lot of valuable lessons about customer readiness, innovation, and distribution channels, which we’ll carry into our re-imagined waste goals.   


2025 GOAL: 100% of materials and ingredients will be sustainable bio-based or recycled  

In 2021-2022, we revisited our palm strategy. Oil palm is a significant feedstock to Seventh Generation’s ingredient portfolio, making up approximately 20% of GHG emissions coming from materials, ingredients, and packaging. Globally, growing demand for palm across industries from food to beauty to cleaning products has led to deforestation and the exploitation of farm workers in palm growing regions in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa. 


With Seventh Generation’s continued use of palm-derived ingredients, we have committed to sourcing RSPO certified palm,  and have made significant progress with the goal to source 100% RSPO mass balance palm by 2025. We are going beyond our own purchasing and encouraging suppliers to source Mass Balance RSPO palm as well.   















While we’re proud of this progress, we know certification is not a systems-change oriented solution. Our long-term palm strategy is centered on the principles of reduce, replace, and regenerate.   

  • Reduce: With multiple palm-derived ingredients in our products, reduction involves testing to ensure our products continue to perform as expected. Where feasible, we have successfully lowered the levels of oil palm surfactants in our formulas and offset changes in performance with increased enzyme levels.   

  • Replace: We support the exploration of alternative feedstocks and biotech solutions but are cautious of the potential for alternatives to cause more environmental harm. Because several palm alternatives provide less oil per hectare, switching feedstocks could lead to further deforestation.  We continue to explore materials innovations that will serve as a feasible and suitable replacement for palm-derived ingredients. 

  • Regenerate: The ultimate goal of our palm strategy is to restore forests and improve farmer livelihoods through regenerative palm. Regenerative principles improve social equity, diversify income streams for farmers, sequester carbon through improved soil health, increase biodiversity, and increase sustainable yield, among many other benefits. In 2022, we transformed our Carbon Fund into $1MM to support two 3-year regenerative palm projects.  With Kaleka, a long-time partner to Unilever based in Indonesia, we are contributing to the Mosaik Initiative.  This project will focus on a farmers association for agroforestry products to increase value and encourage communities to protect / restore nature, provide financial support to smallholder sustainable palm oil production / RSPO certification, and establish programs to ensure sustainable palm oil production.  With Wild Asia, a new partner based in Malaysia, we will support their work to develop a Regenerative Scorecard (RAS) for oil palm. The RAS will be co-developed with the Rainforest Alliance and field tested with oil palm small holders in Malaysia. The scorecard will allow small holders to measure and report on key performance indicators related to regenerative agriculture performance, including soil conservation, biodiversity, water quality, carbon sequestration and farmer income.  


Seventh Generation’s intention is to evaluate progress in these two partner pilots and share findings broadly, so that best practices can be scaled to support a more regenerative palm industry. 


2025 GOAL: 100% of Seventh Generation will be products free of chronic toxins (we’re so close!)

Since 2013, we’ve reduced the total volume of chronic toxins in our products by 98%!  We focus our efforts on four known chronic toxins which may cause skin irritation in some people– boric acid, methylisothiazolinone (MIT), Octylisothiazolinone (OIT) and 1,2-benzisothiazol-3-(2H)-one (BIT).   All our products have been free from Boric Acid since 2018.  We have very, very small amounts, less than 0.005% of total product mass - of the MIT, OIT, and BIT in some of our laundry category and even smaller amounts in our dish cleaner product category.  We will continue to work with our suppliers to reduce these materials until we reach zero chronic toxins in all our products.  


What's Ahead in 2023 & Beyond

As we unleash our superpowers and update our goals, we will bring more partners, more innovation, and more leadership to demonstrate that change is not only necessary, but it is happening.  While the pathway to success is not always straightforward, we are confident in our roots and are proud that Seventh Generation is a force – a force for good.