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Seventh Generation Steps Up Packaging, Supply Chain Goals

<p>With the release of its sixth annual &quot;corporate consciousness&quot; report, the green business leader sets its sights on auditing and greening its supply chain and moving its packaging to fully post-consumer recycled content.</p>

It has already been a momentous year for Seventh Generation, the deep-green cleaning products company: in June, co-founder and "Chief Inspired Protagonist" Jeffrey Hollender announced that he was stepping down as CEO to hand the reins off to a new leader that can shepherd the company to higher levels of business.

At the same time as the company aims high with its reach and sales, Seventh Generation is also stepping up its goals for operations, according to its sixth annual report, released this week.

"Crossroads," the title of the company's "corporate consciousness" report, outlines the successes of the past year as well as the targets for the coming year. In addition to being named the "Best Company on Earth" by the Better World Shopping Guide, Seventh Generation also:

• Held its first-ever Manufacturing Partner Sustainability Summit and conducted comprehensive audits of its suppliers and manufacturers;
• eliminated synthetic fragrances in all of our products; and
• became one of the first companies to purchase sustainable palm oil credits

The company also started to decentralize its manufacturing and distribution operations -- the opposite tack to that taken by other firms -- as a way of reducing the distances products must travel to get to market by 48 percent in 2009.

In setting goals for the coming years, Seventh Generation aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent per year, normalized to sales, with a goal of reaching an 80 percent reduction over current levels by 2050.

On the packaging front, the company managed to improve the post-consumer recycled (PCR) content levels of two of its bottles to 75 percent (up from 25 percent the previous year) in 2008, but by 2010 the company aims to bring all of its bottles up to 75 percent PCR content by 2010. Similarly, two-thirds of its product boxes are currently 30-40 percent PCR (the remaining one-third is 100 percent PCR), by the end of 2009 all of its boxes will be fully post-consumer recycled content.

In completing audits of its manufacturing and supply partners, Seventh Generation found significant room for improvement, and as a result plans to increase the number of audits conducted this year to 10, up from five last year.

As evidenced by the chart below, while more than half of the company's suppliers have good environmental compliance programs, energy use, waste reduction and greenhouse gas emissions reporting are all areas needing improvement.

Seventh Generation's audit results. Click for full-sized.

"Crossroads," Seventh Generation's latest corporate report, is available to read online or download from

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