Ron Voglewede, Global Sustainability Director at Whirlpool Corporation, explains the company’s decades-long commitment to sustainability and how the demand for sustainable living has evolved.
Whirlpool Corporation, the world’s leading major home appliance company, has been committed to sustainability for nearly 50 years. We sat down with Whirlpool Corporation Global Sustainability Director Ron Voglewede to learn more about sustainable living and the role kitchen and laundry appliances can play in an eco-friendly home. Here's what he had to say.
What defines sustainable living and how has that definition evolved over time?
Sustainable living has always been about reducing people’s impact on the environment and improving the way we live, for today and for future generations. Some people think you have to make major lifestyle changes in order to live in an eco-conscious way. But a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t have to mean making big changes - environmental responsibility can be, and should be, easily achieved in everyday tasks such as doing laundry or washing the dishes. This is why we’re committed to providing innovative, purposeful solutions that help make sustainable lifestyles attainable for all. Sustainability is a valuable and necessary investment, and a responsibility we take very seriously.
How is Whirlpool helping builders meet the growing demand for sustainable, energy-efficient home features?
Consumers want homes that are as energy efficient as possible, which is why we are a valuable partner for some of the largest builders in the country. For example, in 2018, we increased our energy-efficiency target by almost 50 percent compared to our 10-year average, and we’re continuing to reduce the amount of energy and water used by our products. We’re focused on continually creating an extensive, energy-efficient product portfolio that doesn’t sacrifice performance and allows builders to meet the needs of their customers.
It’s becoming more important for companies to be transparent about how their products are developed. What is Whirlpool doing to promote product transparency?
We want to make sure customers understand what goes into our products, which is why one of our corporate goals is to achieve full material transparency by 2020. We’re increasing the use of recycled materials and reducing the amount of natural resources involved in manufacturing our appliances, while developing design-for-environment tools that help us create more sustainable products. We have also accelerated our progress toward the goal of zero waste to landfill across the enterprise, with manufacturing facilities in multiple regions already achieving zero-waste status.
Transparency also means being straightforward about our product emissions, which is why we developed a new global emissions management system. It tracks data from a baseline year of 2016, helping to determine the global footprint for our company’s products and allowing us to strategically lower the environmental impact of our portfolio.
Eco-friendly living expectations advance with each passing decade - how does Whirlpool keep up with the changes?
Our sustainability team members are focused on research and innovation. For example, we created the world’s first live-in research home for net-zero living at Purdue University, called the ReNEWW House, which stands for Retrofitted Net-zero Energy, Water & Waste. It’s a way for us to collaborate with researchers while providing valuable insights for builders on the next generation of technologies that can further sustainable lifestyles for their customers.
How is Whirlpool planning to prioritize sustainability in 2019 and beyond?
Our goal is to lessen environmental impacts across our product portfolio, plants and business practices without sacrificing performance. Water reduction, resource efficiency, world-class manufacturing that tracks efficiency improvements and zero waste to landfill are just a few of the ways we’re putting a strong focus on environmental goals now, and in the future. We’re also maximizing renewable energy in our plants, which has doubled each year for the last three years -- a commitment that will continue to grow. At Whirlpool Corporation, we’re determined to efficiently and effectively meet our aggressive environmental targets to benefit our customers and society as a whole.
To learn more about Whirlpool Corporation innovations in sustainability, visit www.whirlpoolpro.com/sustainability.