Are you interested in what Procter & Gamble Co. considers sustainable? The Cincinnati-based consumer products giant released its 2009 sustainability overview this week. The document touches on plastics in several places -- in both positive and negative lights. For P&G, much of the emphasis is on creating and marketing products that have a reduced environmental impact. According to the company, it has achieved $13.1 billion in sales since 2007 in "products with a significantly reduced environmental impact." One that gets a lot of ink in the report is Ariel Excel Gel, a highly concentrated, low-temperature laundry detergent introduced in Western Europe. Because it is created for consumers to wash clothes in cold water, much of the sustainable benefit comes through energy savings -- assuming that consumers really do use the detergent in cold water. Because the product is concentrated, there's a plastics angle. It uses 14-45 percent less packaging:
The next-generation formula uses only ingredients that add value to the cleaning performance, adding no thickeners, solvents, or stabilizers. Thanks to a breakthrough formulation that forms a gel naturally, the product's easy-squeeze consistency is achieved without the need for any structuring agents. This makes it possible to handle the same number of loads in a highly concentrated formula, leading to a dramatic reduction in packaging.Ariel also uses plastics to reduce transport packaging by 80 percent:
One example of our systemic approach involves an advance by P&G teams in Turkey. By replacing cardboard shipping boxes on Ariel with seal-tight plastic bags, they found a way to use significantly less material while delivering a superior product to market. Previously, shipping Ariel involved packing eight bags of Ariel granule detergent into a corrugated box. The team designed a new process that packed Ariel in large, sealtight polyethylene bags. Entirely recyclable, these bags require 80% less packaging material than boxes, and can be opened without tools. They also take up 20% less space during transport and storage and help speed up the packaging line. For our retail customers, the new outer covering provides still more value. It allows for easier stock management, with the transparent film showing the product inside for faster recognition of brands and sizes. Because the packaging can be opened without tools, it is easier to handle. And it maximizes shelf space, helping reduce out-of-stock situations. The success of this packaging advance has inspired its expansion beyond Turkey. The new process is currently being reapplied across multiple regions, with three more plants scheduled to be up and running by early next year.The report also mentions that P&G is replacing plastic with recycled-content corrugate in its in-store displays. For more details, here's a link directly to P&G's 26-page sustainability overview (PDF warning). The company notes that the full report is coming soon.