TECHNOLOGY PROFILE - Appliances
Better Living by Design
Electrolux is at the forefront of innovation and sustainability in home appliances.
By SEAN O'KEEFE
A GLOBAL NAME IN HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES, ELECTROLUX is passionate about making it easier for families to live a little better every day. Selling approximately 60 million products annually to 120 markets worldwide, the Electrolux suite of brands includes Electrolux, Frigidaire and AEG. Extensive product lines include ranges, cooktops, wall ovens, refrigerators, microwaves, washers/dryers and vacuums.
Eloise Hale has been with Electrolux for more than a decade as the Head of Corporate Communications and shares that there’s more to this century-old brand than their wide array of products and global reach.
“Electrolux was founded in Sweden in 1919,” says Hale from one of Electrolux’s eight North American manufacturing facilities in Anderson, South Carolina where the company makes refrigerators. “Starting with a vacuum cleaner, today Electrolux makes all major kitchen, laundry and floor cleaning appliances. Our objective is to shape living for the better by making products that improve the taste, care and wellbeing experiences in every home.”
HEAD OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS,
Whether in the kitchen where the goal is a fresher meal or the laundry where the objective is cleaner clothes that last twice as long, Electrolux is at the forefront of innovation in home appliances. As a Swedish company, sustainability has been a fundamental part of the Electrolux story from the start. It’s a heritage Hale is proud to share.
“Swedish culture focuses on sustainability, so that’s a part of who we are. Electrolux has been recognized as a global leader in sustainability on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for many years,” says Hale. “In the products we make, we find that 15 percent of the energy and impact take place in manufacturing, shipping and getting an appliance to market. 85 percent of the product’s environmental impact is during daily use. Presently, Electrolux operates from nearly 40 manufacturing facilities worldwide, employing a global workforce of approximately 51,000 people. With operational objectives of being circular and climate neutral, Electrolux’s facilities all incorporate a variety of renewable energy solutions including solar panels, solar water heaters, and target a zero waste production process. Hale points to a collection of key progress indicators that reveal Electrolux is on track.
“We have reduced CO2 emissions by 83 percent since 2015, on our way to carbon neutral with only 17 percent left to go,” says Hale. “In 2021, 60 percent of our energy came from renewables, and we recovered 93 percent of all waste. It’s not just about saving energy, though. These changes also improve our work environments, which leads to healthier, happier, more productive employees as well.”
Hale explains that Electrolux approaches sustainability from four pillars of excellence. The first is to be circular, considering a product’s end-of life reuse before it’s ever made and recovering waste during manufacturing. The second is to be climate neutral. As daunting as it may be for a company that does approximately $14 billion a year in sales, neutrality nears fruition in North America. Third, Electrolux wants to make sustainable eating everyone’s first choice. Finally, they want clothes to last longer and keep homes free of harmful pollutants.
In meeting their mission of helping families live better, Electrolux builds sustainability into everything they make and continues to advance innovation in lifestyle-friendly products. The new Frigidaire Gallery wall oven was a finalist for Best of Show at the 2022 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in February (Frigidaire is the American subsidiary of Electrolux).
She points out that the quality of ingredients, freshness and authenticity are resounding positives for today’s consumers. Electrolux makes a variety of innovative cooking techniques touch-screen simple. Patented Air Sous Vide technology precisely controls heat and airflow to ensure meats and vegetables are cooked to perfection. The new ovens come in single and double sizes and have been re-engineered to make handling and installation easier. “The new wall ovens incorporate reclaimed steel and are 11 percent lighter than our last model. Little things can make a big difference in sustainability.”
Healthier food through healthier ways of cooking is half of the equation. Keeping cooked but uneaten food out of the trash is the other. The Electrolux Food Foundation estimates that one-third of all the food the world produces ends up in the trash. Frigidaire lines aim to avoid food waste. The new four-door Gallery refrigerator features crisper drawers that keep produce fresh longer. The exclusive built-in antioxidant filter reduces ethylene, odors and preserves color to give meal makers lasting confidence in the food they serve their families.
“Families around the world need appliances that make their lives easier and make their money go further,” continues Hale of the impact Electrolux has on the bigger picture. “Our new front-load washing machine saves more than 80 gallons of water a month and is engineered to get clothes cleaner without wearing them out.”
Research shows that extending the lifespan of clothes by an extra nine months can reduce carbon waste and water footprints by approximately 25 percent. Electrolux’s new line of washers and dryers target doubling the lifespan of everyday clothing and include a new-to-market process. Incorporating SmartBoost technology, the washer premixes water and detergent before the cycle begins to maximize cleaning power and keep whites whiter without using bleach.
“These technologies keep harmful and unnecessary chemicals out of the waste stream, reduce water use, and allow people to wear clothing for a lot longer than they would otherwise,” says Hale. “These are positives we can all appreciate.”
Understanding what consumers want is an important part of the equation because the consumer of tomorrow is always changing. In 2021, mid-pandemic, Electrolux launched a new initiative to engage generational perspectives from around the world through the Council of Young Adults. This global forum assembles young adults from a cross-section of perspectives in a virtual council focused on uncovering their definition of better living.
“This is an exchange,” says Hale. “Electrolux is learning about the life and lifestyle the next generation envisions for themselves and how, now, we can shape their future. The students are getting first-hand exposure to leadership in business, sustainability, manufacturing, R&D and distribution from a global brand that has been doing it for 100 years.”
As the future unfolds, Electrolux is ready. Assessing what’s on the horizon, Hale suggests it’s likely more of the same.
“Innovation, sustainability and a forward-focused vision have long been the foundation of Electrolux,” Hale finishes. “Our goal is to help people around the world live healthier, happier lives through products that maximize goodness and minimize waste wherever we can.”