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FLIT’s Clean Water Investment Theme: A Spotlight on Ecolab

Company Profile

Name: Ecolab Inc.

FLIT Investment Theme: Clean Water

Headquarters: Saint Paulo, MN, US 

Year Founded: 1923 

Employees: 47,000 

Blue text capitals reading "ECOLAB". In the "O" there is a white cross.

Business Overview: Ecolab Inc. provides water, hygiene, and infection prevention solutions in the United States and internationally. This includes water and sanitation services in foodservice, hospitality, government, education, retail, and pharmaceutical industries. 

Mission: Ecolab’s mission is to be the leading global innovator, developer and provider of cleaning, sanitation and maintenance products, systems, and services.

What is Ecolab's Impact Rating?

FLIT Invest Impact Rating: 5 (out of 5)

This rating refers to the positive impact that the company makes in the world through its products and services. 

Assessed for impact metrics, including carbon emissions avoided, waste & materials saved, and lives improved.

A white number 5 in a green circle

In 2021, Ecolab have avoided 3.6 million metric tons of CO2 emissions across the company operations. Through their testing and regulatory services in healthcare, food, and water services Ecolab has conserved 215 billion gallons of water, secured safe and high quality food for 1.4 billion people, and provided clean water for 60 billion hands.

Based on our analysis, we found that Ecolab’s work aligns with multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including:

  • SDG 3 Good Health & Wellbeing, as they provide sanitation services across healthcare sectors and maintain safe clean water for hygiene and sanitation.
  • SDG 6 Clean Water & Sanitation, as they ensure availability and sustainable management of safe water and sanitation for all.
  • SDG 9 Industry, Innovation, & Infrastructure, because their core business contributes directly to the “adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes”. 
  • SDG 11 Sustainable Cities & Communities enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization through proper and sustainable water management services. 
  • SDG 13 Climate Action by avoiding greenhouse gas emissions.
  • SDG 14 Life under the Sea, as they aid conservation and sustainable use of water as a natural resource.

Ecolab highlighted multiple other SDGs in their sustainability disclosures to which they claim to contribute. However, FLIT analysts evaluated that these claims were not strong enough, not linked to the company’s core operation, or not intentional. Therefore, FLIT did not attribute company revenues to sustainable development targets and goals in our UN SDG mapping analysis.

What is Ecolab's ESG Score?

FLIT Invest also conducts ESG analysis on every company in our investment themes. ESG framework pertains to environmental, social, and governance risks posed to a company’s operations and how well they address these risks. This is about how well they operate as a business, not what their business does for society.

A neutral face icon in orange.

Operationally, Ecolab does very well but could do better in some areas. They provide environmentally positive solutions but have faced significant financial penalties across E, S, and G risks. Their reporting referenced the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards to report on additional material sustainability issues. They also provided disclosures aligned with the four key themes of the Taskforce for Financial-Related Climate Disclosure (TCFD). However, based on our assessment of these disclosures, we found gaps in their reporting and risks that could be mitigated better. 

ESG Ratings: MSCI: AAA (as of Nov 2022) and Sustainalytics: 19.9 (as of Dec 2022) 

  • ENVIRONMENTAL: disclosures are thorough for most environmental risks including emissions, energy use, and waste however Ecolab has significant environmental violations. In the last 20 years, they have paid $3.5 million in penalties for environmental violations. Given they are a company operating in environmental stewardship, this is a significant risk. Regarding emissions, Ecolab has been reducing their emissions in the last few years and have made a particular stand to not purchase carbon offsets – their emission reduction goals are to be attained by actual reduction of emissions and not simple offsetting. They are Climate Disclosure Project (CDP) and Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) verified. 


  • SOCIAL: BIPOC representation at the board level (17%) can be improved to be reflective of the wider workforce (32%); meanwhile female representation at the board level is almost at parity (42%). EcoLab has been noted for the 9th consecutive year as the Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality by the Human Rights Coalition for its perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index. Despite this and awards for working conditions, the company has also faced significant fines for social violations: around $113.4 million was paid in penalties in the past 20 years.


  • GOVERNANCE: Ecolab are very open about their engagement with politics and such transparency is to be given credit for. However, this is unusual given they are heavily involved in lobbying; the company donates sizable funds to politicians, scoring poorly on the Campaign Finance Reform (CRF) index at –57. The CRF score is on a scale of –100 to + 100, where negative scores reflect that supporting this company keeps corporate money in politics. 

FLIT's Call To Action for Ecolab

Impact Rating: Ecolab is making a positive impact through its water treatment and sanitation services. They are a leading performer in FLIT Invest’s Clean Water portfolio with a 5/5 rating. 

ESG Performance: It is unclear how the company is regarding the policy violations and their tolerance to social, and governance risks. In the future FLIT Invest wants to see better regard for the laws and policies in place to protect the environment and social justice by Ecolab and its subsidiaries, improved representation and workplace ethics, and less lobbying activities that contribute significant funds to political campaigns.

Why Invest in Clean Water?

Our team at FLIT Invest has researched hundreds of investment funds and companies, and we have curated our Clean Water portfolio that we believe targets the water crisis in multiple sectors. Our investments span across utilities, technology, chemicals and more – each service or product helps to advance clean water goals. Further investments from large investors will be required to close the funding gap to reach SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation, a major global goal outlined by the United Nations. Market trends indicate that the demand for clean water and investments into the sector will continue to increase, which in our view presents an attractive investment opportunity from both financial and impact perspectives. 

We provide you with transparent data on each company’s sustainability practices ensuring that your investments align with your values. At FLIT Invest, we strongly believe that this investment approach is profitable and is essential for the future of people and the planet.  

Impact investing is at your fingertips with FLIT Invest – the future is exciting and yours to shape! 

Ecolab got you intrigued? To learn more about FLIT Invest’s Clean Water portfolio, visit the theme page or read the white paper

This FLIT impact and ESG analysis summary has been prepared based on company disclosures and analyses as of November 2022.

Sources: FLIT analysis, company disclosures, Koyfin, United Nations, MSCI, Sustainalytics, CDP, SBTi, GoodsUniteUS, Violation Tracker  

Footnote 1: Content is for informational and educational purposes only. Any views, strategies or products discussed may not be appropriate for all individuals and are subject to risks. Investors may get back less than they invested, and past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. The information contained herein should not be construed as, and may not be used in connection with, an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or hold, an interest in any security or investment product. Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives and risks as well as charges and expenses of a mutual fund or ETF before investing.   

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