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Sustainability FAQs

FAQs

 

 

The following are answers to several frequently asked questions about sustainability and Sherwin-Williams.

 

GENERAL QUESTIONS

Sustainability is not new to Sherwin-Williams – it is reflected in our core values and embedded in our culture and business practices. We maintain a holistic and science-based approach to continuous improvement and are committed to building long-term, sustainability shareholder value.

 

The Sherwin-Williams Company culture is built on trust, respect, execution and inclusion – which guide our commitment to take care of our customers, respect our employees and the environment, create value for our customers, employees and shareholders and support the communities in which we live and work. 

Sustainability is rooted in our values and our way of doing business. We embrace a holistic approach, integrating sustainability into our worldwide business operations and embedding it in our product innovation and product delivery processes. We believe that sustainability makes good business sense.

For Sherwin-Williams sustainability policy documents, email sustainability@sherwin.com

To achieve our ID&E goals, we are following a strategic roadmap represented by building blocks designed to shape our approach and set the foundation for sustainable growth across the Company. While we are advancing each focus area simultaneously, each block builds on another. The entire structure is strengthened by the commitment of leadership. The building blocks of our ID&E strategy include:

  • Educate and communicate the business case to drive success – Building awareness of inclusive leadership behaviors to leverage the unique contributions of each employee to positively impact our people and business results
  • Fill the pipeline with the best talent – Attracting the best talent and strengthening our brand as an employer of choice
  • Develop and engage talent by investing in our people – Investing in our people by providing cross-divisional networking and learning opportunities to drive retention, progression and engagement
  • Progress talent by integrating equity into planning – Integrating equity practices, processes, tools and resources into annual talent review and succession planning

The Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity partners with our groups, divisions and functions to establish goals and initiatives through division-specific action plans that support and reinforce our company-wide efforts.

Company-wide, Sherwin-Williams does not conduct or outsource testing on animals unless it is specifically required by a regulation or government authority. There are rare instances where animal testing may be required as part of a registration process – for example, new chemical, biocide and food packaging product registrations.

A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.

1.      Our approach to ESG leadership and oversight aligns with our commitment to building long-term, sustainable shareholder value. At the executive level, our ESG efforts are led by the Sherwin-Williams Sustainability Steering Committee, consisting of members of our executive team and other senior leaders. The Steering Committee seeks to ensure a holistic approach to developing and progressing our sustainability and ESG strategies and initiatives and to drive alignment across the organization on emerging ESG risks and opportunities. The Steering Committee receives regular updates from the Sustainability Council, which consists of subject matter experts responsible for day-to-day management and coordination of various aspects of our ESG initiatives, policies and programs.

ESG leadership is also part of Chairman, President & CEO John Morikis’ annual performance appraisal and includes the development, integration, and execution of our ESG strategy, as well as progress on ESG initiatives, as part of the Company’s overall business strategy. In addition, the Presidents of each of our three global operating segments are responsible for working in conjunction our VP of Sustainability to advance the Company’s ESG strategies, goals, targets and initiatives.

At the Board level, our Board of Directors has responsibility for the oversight of risk management. Our Board Committees assist the Board with this oversight responsibility by reviewing specific risk areas, including certain ESG risks, and making regular reports to the Board.

  • Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee – key environmental metrics (including the impacts of climate change), product stewardship, health and safety, sustainability and corporate social responsibility policies and strategies, and corporate governance guidelines and practices.
  • Compensation and Management Development Committee – key policies and strategies regarding the attraction, retention and development of talent, including inclusion, diversity and equity initiatives, and compensation policies and practices.
  • Audit Committee – enterprise risk management process and exposure to financial risks, compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, and risk exposures relating to cybersecurity and efforts to monitor and mitigate such exposures.

We expect to continue to have strong oversight of key ESG policies and strategies at the board level and deep commitment throughout our executive leadership team.

Coatings are often designed to help protect other products and substrates which allow for a longer functional life, but in many cases facilitates the recycling and/or reuse of the coated product system. For example, our coatings allow aluminum and steel cans – two of the most readily recycled materials – to be widely used in the marketplace by not only protecting the beverage itself but preventing the aluminum from degrading to the point where it may no longer be able to be recycled.

In addition, Sherwin-Williams seeks opportunities to incorporate recycled materials into its supply chain.  Along with products such as Powdura-ECO (which contains post-industrial recycled content), Sherwin-Williams reuses washwater and other process chemicals whenever feasible.

Because sustainability is such a broad topic, there are a wide variety of possibilities.  If you have ideas, questions, or comments regarding sustainability, please contact the Global Sustainability group at sustainability@sherwin.com.

AREAS OF IMPACT & GOALS

We have the commitment, strategy, goals and programs in place to drive progress in our top tier focus areas of: Climate and Footprinting (within our Environmental Stewardship pillar); Product Stewardship and Life Cycle Assessment (within our Product Blueprint pillar); and Occupational Health and Safety and Talent Acquisition and Employee Engagement (within our Social Imprint pillar). 

Our ambitious and meaningful goals address global issues of critical importance, including doing our part to address climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency and use of renewable energy, minimizing our waste and accelerating development of “sustainably advantaged products.” We are also building additional momentum by enhancing our culture of inclusion, diversity and equity; continuously improving our occupational health and safety metrics; and strengthening our engagement with communities where we operate around the world.

  • 2030 Environmental Footprint Reduction Goals
    • Reduce absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 30%
    • Increase renewable energy to 50% of total electricity usage
    • Increase operational energy efficiency by 20%
    • Reduce waste disposal intensity by 25%
  • Product Blueprint Goals
    • Implement Sustainability by Design process across the enterprise in 2021
    • Establish baseline for sustainably advantaged products in 2021 and develop plan for expanding this product portfolio in the future
    • Develop consistent process in 2021 for measuring and assessing Scope 3 emissions
  • Social Imprint Goals and Aspirations for our People
    • Reduce recordable case rate to 0.8 by 2025
    • Reduce ergonomic injuries by implementing two ergonomic interventions per year at each manufacturing site
    • Increase women in management roles to 30% by 2025
    • Increase under-represented racial/ethnic groups in U.S. management roles to 30% by 2025
    • Achieve and improve upon a favorable score on the Sherwin-Williams Inclusion Index (based on results of our annual employee engagement survey)

We have aligned our climate strategy to reflect a science-based target approach, influenced by global efforts to limit global warming to well-below 2.0 degrees Celsius. Our goal is to reduce our absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 30% by 2030. In our view, the benefit of setting an absolute goal, rather than an intensity goal, is that it aligns best with what the planet needs – an absolute reduction of GHG emissions. We plan to further evaluate our climate-related risks and opportunities and report our findings in our first disclosures using the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework.

We have adopted a new approach to better reflect and align with certain global efforts, including setting new GHG emissions reduction targets. Our goal is to reduce our absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 30% by 2030.

Our approach to occupational health and safety includes the following three focus areas: Process Safety, Safety & Risk and Occupational Health. As we continually strive to achieve zero recordable injuries, we have set ambitious aspirational goals we are targeting to accomplish by 2025:

  • Process Safety – Maintain continued progress along our maturity path by having all 72 global sites achieve the compliance level of the Company’s four-tier blueprint to minimize disruptive fires and spills across the enterprise
  • Safety & Risk – Achieve a recordable cases rate (RCR) of 0.8
  • Occupational Health – Reduce the number of ergonomic injuries by implementing two interventions per year in each manufacturing site

 

And by 2030:

  • Reduce absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 30%
  • Increase renewable energy to 50% of total electricity usage
  • Increase operational energy efficiency by 20%

We have set the following goals to ensure we are making good on our promise of advancing a culture of inclusion: 

  • Attract more under-represented racial/ethnic groups, women and other under-represented groups into our talent pipeline
  • Increase the number of under-represented racial/ethnic groups, women and other under-represented groups in leadership roles
  • Drive employee engagement to ensure diversity of thought and experience thrives in our culture and positively influences performance

 

To ensure we are continuously making progress, we have developed the accompanying metrics-driven, aspirational goals to be achieved by 2025:

  • Increase women in management roles to 30% by 2025
  • Increase under-represented racial/ethnic groups in U.S. management roles to 30% by 2025
  • Achieve and improve upon a favorable score on the Sherwin-Williams Inclusion Index (based on results of our annual employee engagement survey)

SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTS

In the spirit of continuous improvement, the Sustainability by Design program will enable us to evolve our products and processes to deliver and grow our Sustainably Advantaged Product offering. We define a sustainably advantaged product as one that achieves a level of third-party green chemistry, ecolabel and similar sustainability recognition indicating the product is more sustainable than what is currently the norm for the industry. Sustainably advantaged refers to products that incorporate green chemistry solutions and substitutions, has minimal impact to human health and the environment and meets stringent leadership criteria. These offerings improve customer sustainability in a defined and measurable way.

Currently, 30% of our product portfolio consists of sustainably advantaged products. We are planning to establish future targets to increase this percentage of our portfolio.


Some examples of external certifications that allow for our products to become sustainable advantaged include:

  • UL GREENGUARD
  • Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)
  • UL Product Lens Assessments
  • NSF Manufacturer’s Inventories
  • FSC Certified Brushes
  • IR Reflective Coatings
  • USDA BioPreferred
  • Products with Recycled Content

PROGRAM PARTICIPATION

We believe it’s important to participate in healthy discussions – and create action plans – with input and expertise from those around us. That is why we are actively engaged with many government agencies, industry organizations and non-government organizations that value sustainable practices as much as we do:

  • American Coating Association™
  • British Coatings Federation
  • Canadian Paints and Coatings Association (CPCA)
  • CLEARCorps USA
  • ECOLABEL – European Union
  • EcoVadis
  • EPA SmartWay® Fuel Efficient Transportation Program
  • GC3
  • GREENGUARD Certification from UL Environment
  • Household & Commercial Products National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) National Green Building Program™
  • NSF International
  • PaintCare® Program
  • UL Environment®
  • Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)
  • The Carbon Disclosure Project™
  • The Coatings Care® Program
  • The U.S. Green Building Council® (USGBC) LEED® Program

We are communicating our approach to sustainability and incorporating sustainability into our earliest design processes through the following internal programs:

 

  • S-W Cares: Enterprise-Wide EHS Excellence
    • Company’s enterprise-wide initiative to communicate our approach to occupational health and safety and serves as a roadmap for achieving environmental, health and safety excellence across the Company. It provides a leadership governance structure built around a common language that is supported by tools to continuously track and measure our efforts to ensure safe workplaces, protect the environment and meet or exceed regulatory requirements. 
    • The principles of S-W Cares include:
      • Safe Employees
      • Healthy Planet
      • Responsible Operations

 

Sustainability by Design

  • Our signature effort to formally incorporate sustainability attributes such as life cycle thinking throughout our innovation and product development process:
    • From initial concept through commercialization, we consider ways to make our products more sustainable and better performing by looking at chemical formulations, product performance, manufacturing processes, health and safety, and packaging, among other areas
    • In the spirit of continuous improvement, this program will enable us to evolve our products and processes to deliver and grow our Sustainably Advantaged product offering

SAFETY QUESTIONS

Within our Global Supply Chain division, company leadership is championing driver safety and has encouraged the Driver Safety Committee to highlight issues and provide solutions, with at least one driver representing each distribution center on the committee. Within The Americas Group (TAG), both commercial and non-commercial fleets are reducing preventable accidents. Each year, Sherwin-Williams drivers traverse millions of miles to bring paint and coatings from manufacturing and distribution centers to our stores and, ultimately, to customers. In 2020, our Global Supply Chain (GSC) Distribution Fleet recorded a Department of Transportation (DOT) reportable accidents per million miles number significantly lower than the industry benchmark. TAG also continues to see a downward trend in DOT-reportable accidents.

The S-W Cares program, the TLC Stay Safe Out There campaign, our EHS Management System, fleet safety efforts and increased collaboration between divisions are instrumental in driving continuous improvement in safety performance at
Sherwin-Williams.



The safety of our employees and customers is a core value. S-W Cares is the Company’s enterprise-wide initiative to communicate our approach to occupational health and safety and serves as a roadmap for achieving environmental, health and safety (EHS) excellence across the Company. It provides a leadership governance structure built around a common language that is supported by tools to continuously track and measure
our efforts to ensure safe workplaces, protect the environment and meet or exceed regulatory requirements.


With the launch of the TLC Stay Safe Out There campaign, the Company continues to focus on reducing the number of injuries attributable to Trips, Lifts and Cuts in our stores and facilities across the globe. These types of hazards typically account for 85% of the Company’s employee-reported injuries. The initiative encourages employees to take a personal stake in the safety of their workplace and also brings awareness to the risk of fires and spills at manufacturing locations. With the TLC campaign in place, the Company reduced its recordable case rate (RCR) in one year by the same amount as in the previous three years combined – achieving a company record with a recordable case rate of 1.06. 

WASTE MANAGEMENT QUESTIONS

Sherwin-Williams continuously strives to reduce waste in our operations. Our waste reduction efforts focus on two primary levers: 1) reducing the amount of waste that we generate, and 2) increasing our reuse and recycling. Every Sherwin-Williams manufacturing facility has waste reduction goals and associated projects and programs to meet those goals. Continuous improvement processes have been implemented to address quality control, reduce distressed batches and manage raw materials and finished product inventory, thereby eliminating the waste before it is generated.

 

Other waste reduction efforts include: the reuse and recycling of cleaning solvents; reworking paint into new batches; and recycling cardboard, paper, plastic and metal. Materials that become waste are managed in accordance with applicable regulations and corporate guidelines. Another key component of our product stewardship strategy is our participation in the PaintCare® paint recycling program, which we have been involved with since its inception in 2009. The nonprofit program is managed by the American Coatings Association (ACA) to recycle and properly manage post-consumer paint. More than 425 Sherwin-Williams stores currently participate in these paint recycling efforts, serving as retail drop-off sites for customers and local communities.

REPORTING

Our EHS Management System covers all Sherwin-Williams facilities. Each of our three operating segments – The Americas Group (TAG), Consumer Brands Group (CBG) and Performance Coatings Group (PCG) – and our Global Supply Chain division within CBG manage EHS through the S-W Cares initiative, but tailor their approach to their specific risk profile.

As an example – within TAG – the creation of a tactical EHS handbook and companion mobile app personalized for their unique operations in 2020, allowed us to broadly standardize and communicate our expectations on the sales floor in our company-operated stores. We are enhancing safety leadership by adding an EHS leader to each of our five TAG divisions to support and oversee ongoing efforts. The introduction of the mobile app has improved the efficiency of inspections, increased visibility of the results and streamlined EHS data collection.

Along with the publication of our annual Sustainability Report, we have historically reported to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards and more recently have increased and enhanced our reporting to also align with the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) framework. 

Historically, we have published an annual Sustainability Report (formerly labeled Corporate Responsibility Report). For the past 3 years, we have also published our shorter Investor ESG Summary (formerly Investor Download) summarizing information, data and metrics for the investor community. In 2020, we created new goals with a plan to increase transparency and report more often in 2021 and beyond. With the launch of a new Sustainability website in Q3 2021, we intend to increase and enhance our reporting against our new aggressive goals. To view the website and the most current information regarding our sustainability efforts and progress, visit https://corporate.sherwin-williams.com/sustainability.html.