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Materials Use and Impacts

Sustainable materials usage

Designing and building high-performance goods that take less from the Earth and are better for people and the planet requires a deep understanding of what is within the materials and components that make up those products.

Material transparency has been, and continues to be, a key pillar of the DfS program. The global Critical Materials Management 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 supplier contracts and part approval processes, and is updated annually to reflect new legislation and customer requirements. This promotes compliance for current stakeholder requirements while allowing us to remain proactive and lay the groundwork for future material changes.

Our Materials Use
and Impacts Goals

  • Eliminate non-recyclable packaging.
  • Make product transparency a focal point in our supply base through supporting and facilitating Full Materials Disclosure.
  • Eliminate the use of rigid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in new products by 2025.

Our support of Full Materials Disclosure (FMD) distinguishes Whirlpool Corp. in the marketplace due to the transformative nature of the program. Compliance programs today rely on declarations stating what is not in a component; these declarations are known as negative disclosures. FMD on the other hand, relies on positive disclosures, which state exactly what is in the component. For a company that values transparency as much as we do, we strive to provide best-in-class visibility in the material compliance space. By making a full accounting of all materials used in production, we are able to further our efforts to reduce and eliminate the usage of Substances of Very High Concern.

Our commitment to using safe and sustainable materials extends beyond products and into packaging. This is why we continue our efforts to replace non-recyclable packaging and other disposable materials with more sustainable solutions. Whirlpool Corp. is exploring opportunities and leveraging the capabilities from our suppliers to reduce the waste produced from single-use plastic packaging.

Key Achievements:

Materials Use and Impacts

Standardized the FMD data format, updated our product stewardship portal, integrated FMD data acceptance criteria, increased data resolution and developed multiple strategic collaborations with the intention of having a year-over-year increase in FMD toward the 2030 Transparency goal.

  • Committed to launching expanded polystyrene (EPS)-free packaging for select products in the KitchenAid line by 2025.
  • Identified opportunities for use of bio-based resins within product applications as an an alternative to traditional fossil fuel-based polymers to reduce the product impact.

Collaboration with suppliers to increase product transparency

In 2022 we advanced our commitment to FMD by entering into strategic collaborations with a diverse group of suppliers who have demonstrated a willingness and aptitude to go above and beyond regulations in the material compliance space. The focus has been on building our suppliers’ capacity to provide highly detailed and accurate FMD declarations that meet our newly integrated acceptance criteria. These strategic relationships have been key in aiding the continuous improvement of our product stewardship portal. On top of that, these collaborations will result in a detailed chemical accounting of nearly 4,000 complex components used in various Whirlpool Corp. products.

With the best practices established this year, we plan to expand the FMD program to include over 150 high-priority suppliers.

We revamped our material compliance surveys to include new functionality and increase data resolution. This enhances the flow of FMD information from suppliers to Whirlpool Corp. This year, we also designated a well-established data format to facilitate the transfer of FMD information. The improvements mentioned will make it even easier for suppliers to share data important for improving transparency in the materials space, which is essential for transitioning toward a circular economy. We continue to engage with suppliers with the aim of developing solutions that eliminate our reliance on potentially harmful substances where possible. This is important work that must be undertaken with much discretion in order to ensure that new materials are validated as safe in order to prevent what are known as regrettable substitutions. Whirlpool Corp. is on track to eliminate the use of rigid PVC in new products by 2025.

Innovative solutions in sustainable packaging

The EPS Foam Free Project team is encouraging our supply base to propose innovative design solutions leveraging unique capabilities and materials from our vendors to reduce waste from single-use plastic packaging. It is important to take a look at emerging technologies within the packaging space that utilize bio-based technologies capable of replacing fossil fuel-derived materials. One example is a bio-based foam which, when compared with EPS over the entire life cycle, reduces global warming potential (GWP) by 107 kg CO2e. This difference is equivalent to the average GWP of 12 gallons of gasoline burned in a standard vehicle1.

We expect to launch EPS-free packaging for select products in the KitchenAid line by 2025. A select group of suppliers has agreed to join an EPS-free packaging design investigation. The ideal state likely will be to optimize packaging solutions for sustainability, cost, timing, performance and other key factors, as well as to provide an improved consumer unboxing experience.

As we look to continuously improve the sustainability profile of our packaging, we are actively responding to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) initiatives being undertaken globally. These initiatives, while challenging to address in some design aspects, are encouraging because they incentivize the development of packaging solutions that are both sustainable and scalable. As mentioned above, we ardently investigate all potential solutions that can meet our sustainability and performance criteria.

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Researching alternatives to plastic and reducing waste

The market is expanding rapidly for alternatives to traditional fossil fuel-based polymers. Bio-based and bio-attributed polymer alternatives are anticipated to grow to an annual global capacity of 6.3 million tons in 20272. The proliferation of bioplastics is an opportunity for Whirlpool Corp. to diversify our resin portfolio, as well as reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Some benefits include minimizing scope 3 emissions, investing in renewable resource use and diversifying resin sourcing. Developing a strategy and recommendations for the use of bioplastics is quite complex to provide the optimum scenario that meets both our consumers’ expectations for product performance as well as regulatory environmental requirements.

There are multiple resin types, and the overall impact of each resin type was calculated based on GHG emissions and purchase volume as well as whether there is high, medium or low performance risk. Starting in the first quarter of 2022, our Sustainability and Global Strategic Sourcing teams worked together to identify approximately 40 suppliers for outreach regarding bioplastics capabilities. Of those 40 suppliers, six were selected for a detailed analysis based on the environmental and performance impacts when compared to the material in use today. Bioplastic samples from the selected suppliers were evaluated by our materials lab using internal Whirlpool Corp. standards for mechanical, environmental and aesthetic performance.

We have identified potential opportunities for replacing traditional fossil-fuel based polymers with polymers produced using renewable source material. Material samples were collected, tested and and analyzed to determine potential applications for bio-based materials within our products. Results and recommendations were documented and shared with key internal stakeholders to steer the approach in this space for the future of materials used in our products.

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