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2021 Sustainability

Technology & Innovation Inclusive
of Design for Environment

Our Design for Environment (DFE) program connects product sustainability directly with our business goals by designing and building high-performance goods and services that take less from the Earth and are better for people and the planet. It requires a deep understanding of what is within the materials and components that make up those products, so transparency has been, and continues to be, a key pillar of the DFE strategy.

Sustainable Product Playbook

We created a Sustainable Product Playbook in 2021, including chapters on recycled plastic content in products, sustainable packaging and substances of concern in products. The playbook has been developed as a tool to educate the broader organization about how design decisions impact the sustainability attributes of products and to serve as a guide for Whirlpool Corporation engineers to reference throughout the product design process. In particular, the playbook helps design teams translate new requirements set by the global sustainability team into project-specific requirements. This action will help translate the Voice of Sustainability into the Voice of Engineering. The purpose of the Sustainable Product Playbook is to continue driving sustainable innovation and solutions in order to significantly reduce our environmental impacts and set target improvements, allowing our global platform engineering teams to ask the right questions at the right point in the product development process and integrate these improvements into new product introductions.

Recycled Plastics

Whirlpool Corporation is committed to driving recycled plastic content into our product and packaging in an effort to address plastic pollution and reduce GHG emissions. In fact, as reported by The Association of Plastic Recyclers, recycled polypropylene (PP) produces between 29-60% less emissions than virgin PP. To begin this journey, we set one of the highest circularity targets in our industry within Europe and made a pledge in our EMEA region to use an average 18% recycled plastic content by 2025. In 2021, we completed the PolyCE project, which was part of the EU initiative, Horizon 2020, and demonstrated the technical feasibility to use recycled PP in home appliance applications such as the washing machine tub. We currently use 8% recycled plastics in our dishwashers, and we are developing solutions for our laundry products. Since our products touch water and food, we will continue to seek solutions and set goals for reformulated plastics materials that maintain our high standard of quality and safety for our products in all regions.

Substances & Materials of Concern

We are actively minimizing the presence of chemicals and materials that are considered harmful to the environment in the products we manufacture. As part of this initiative, we are taking steps to end the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in all new products. Significant progress on this goal has been made through newly designed PVC-free consoles and other aesthetic components launching in select new Maytag laundry and Whirlpool dishwashers in 2022. Additionally, Whirlpool Corporation is actively tracking the use of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) in products sold in the EU. SVHCs are chemicals and substances that have been proposed for further requirements for authorization within the EU. Tracking of these substances has been accomplished through our Critical Material Management process and through targeted surveys to enable collaboration with key suppliers to identify methods for reducing our dependence on SVHCs, in particular those above 0.1% which are subject to Substances of Concern in Products (SCIP) reporting.

The global Critical Materials Management (CMM) team coordinates and monitors the Restricted Material List. Suppliers are required to adhere to our Restricted Material List and report on banned, restricted and monitored substances of concern. The Restricted Material List is woven into all in-scope supplier contracts and parts approval processes, and is updated annually to reflect new regulations and customer requirements.

In 2021, by forming close partnerships across our supply chain, we fully deployed our Product Stewardship tool globally, achieving our previously reported goal to request full material disclosure from 100% of our suppliers.

Since our products touch water and food, we will continue to seek solutions and set goals for reformulated plastics materials that maintain our high standard of quality and safety for our products in all regions.

The tool allowed over 43,000 compliance requests to be generated to over 1,200 suppliers around the world. Each request included the opportunity for suppliers to engage with our Full Material Disclosure (FMD) survey. After deployment, we continued to see encouraging signs of participation from our suppliers. Every year the tool is enhanced to simplify supplier functionality and data entry, with the goal of improving user experience and data quality. Data collected through the online tool demonstrates chemical compliance; however, as the database continues to grow, it will enable bolder design requirements. The global inventory is the foundation for our dematerialization efforts, alternative material sourcing plan and chemical/material phase-out strategies. We believe that arming our engineers, designers and suppliers with robust data will promote sustainable, healthy and comprehensive design and decision-making upfront. Whirlpool Corporation monitors and traces all chemicals/materials of concern impacting our products but has prioritized three key opportunity areas given our product portfolio: increasing the usage of post-consumer recycled content in plastics, replacing halogenated flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and identifying packaging solutions with sustainable end of life situations.

Sustainable Packaging

Over time, we aim to replace all expanded polystyrene (EPS) across our packaging and other disposable materials with more sustainable options. In EMEA, we are an industry leader with EPS-free packaging solutions for our cooking products and dishwashers sold at IKEA. Additionally, in 2020, we held the first sustainable packaging innovation event virtually in order to challenge both incumbent and new suppliers of packaging solutions, raw materials or technologies to bring forth new ideas. The event was an opportunity to listen to key stakeholders, investigate and explore new sustainable options in packaging, and advance on our pledge to continuously improve our products and processes. One key sustainability success from this event was the reduction of EPS packaging weight by 25% for the KitchenAid ice cream bowl. Another successful outcome was a proposal which is currently under development for a 100% paper-based packaging design solution for our front-load washing machine products. These key innovations will help keep products protected throughout the transportation process while decreasing the amount of waste after the product has arrived. Internally, we have developed a scoring mechanism to holistically evaluate the various parameters of sustainable packaging, including circularity, extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs and regulatory roadmaps.

The Digital Literature program is expected to save the printing of over 1 billion pages of literature annually from 2021 on, which equates to more than 110,000 trees saved.

Digital Literature

In addition to searching for innovative sustainable packaging solutions, we are also piloting a program to reduce paper. We intend to take thousands of pages of literature that has traditionally been included in packaging for our products, such as Use and Care Guides, and replace it with QR codes that lead to digital versions. This not only increases convenience for our consumers, but it’s also good for the environment and reduces complexity for Whirlpool Corporation. The program, which has been launched in select products, is expected to save the printing of over 1 billion pages of literature annually from 2021 on, which equates to more than 110,000 trees saved.

Green Pea

Whirlpool Corporation is partnering with Green Pea—an extraordinary retail concept focused on sustainable living—as an exclusive appliance partner. Green Pea Italy is a radical reimagining of the traditional department store experience, which provides a new way for shoppers to explore and interact with products that enable more socially responsible and sustainable lifestyles. Green Pea only presents products from partner companies that take a lead in environmental and social responsibility. This is why Whirlpool Corporation—with our track record of placing sustainability at the heart of all we do—is the ideal partner to show how smarter, more environmentally responsible technology can help consumers enjoy more sustainable lifestyles.

Green Pea’s vision was brought to life in a 40-square-meter showroom that combines interactive digital media with hands-on product experiences. In the showroom, the products focus on the Built-In W Collection range, a line of products with intuitive technology for reliable, perfect cooking results. Products from Whirlpool and Indesit are also featured in show kitchens in the “Green Pea Home” display area, and in other partner areas such as premium kitchen designer Valcucine’s showroom, which includes the Chef Touch column from KitchenAid. To verify their responsibly manufactured and energy-efficient nature, all products on display at Green Pea bear a specially created “Whirlpool for Green Pea” logo as a seal of sustainability.