P&G Launches Lofty Sustainability Goals

Long-term goals aim to do the world, and the bottom line some good.

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Procter & Gamble Co. recently unveiled its long-term environmental sustainability vision. Among the initiatives: powering its plants with 100% renewable energy, using 100% renewable or recycled materials for all products and packaging, and having zero consumer and manufacturing waste go to landfills.

The Cincinnati-based company admits that this vision will take decades to achieve. To track progress against its vision, P&G will implement a series of 10-year sustainability goals.

The first set of these goals seeks specific improvements by 2020. These include replacing 25% of petroleum-based materials with sustainably sourced renewable materials. Fossil fuels are non-renewable, therefore are not sustainable; reducing packaging by 20%; reducing consumer solid waste -- the company has launched pilot studies to understand how to eliminate landfilled/dumped consumer solid waste; incorporating 30% renewable energy at power plants; and reducing truck transportation by 20% (km/unit of volume).

P&G traces its sustainability roots back to 1956 when it published a paper evaluating the environmental safety of the chemicals it was using at the time, according to Len Sauers, vice president of global sustainability at P&G.

By 2050 P&G expects there to be 9 billion people on the planet. "P&G will need to change to meet those needs of solid waste, climate change, and water availability," notes Sauers.

To devise its sustainability plan, the company held three company-wide design-thinking workshops that included brainstorming sessions. The company also looked outside for advice and found it with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

"P&G's commitment to sustainability can have a major influence on transforming the marketplace and we are pleased to have worked with them on their new sustainability vision," says Carter Roberts, CEO and President, WWF U.S. "By engaging with major companies like P&G, we can have broad and lasting impact on our conservation objectives. We look forward to continuing our work with P&G to achieve goals around renewable materials, packaging, forestry, energy and water, and to support WWF's on-the-ground conservation projects."

"By implementing this new vision, P&G is trying to help solve some of the key sustainability challenges the business community will face over the coming decades," says Sauers. "I am convinced that innovation can uncover solutions to the major sustainability issues facing us -- challenges like waste, emissions, and water use. Innovation and external partnerships are key components of a successful sustainability program. No one company can do it alone. It is important for companies to collaborate with external partners to tackle important topics that impact both our world and our businesses."

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