Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble Co. has set itself some major goals to improve sustainability.
The Cincinnati-based company wants to double its use of recycled resin in its packaging and eventually have zero consumer and manufacturing waste going to landfills.
It has already said it believes it will reduce packaging by 20 percent per unit by 2020.
Sister publication Plastics News Europe spoke to Len Sauers, vice president of global sustainability for P&G about its long-term goals and what the company is doing to reach them.
Q: What do you feel will be the greatest challenge facing P&G in the next 10 years?
Sauers: At P&G, we have set a series of 18 goals addressing issues we see as critical for the communities in which we live and operate and for our business. One issue is waste. We need to recycle more and greatly reduce the quantity of materials we're sending to landfill. At P&G our vision is to one day have zero consumer and manufacturing waste going to landfill.
Toward that vision, we are working across all our manufacturing sites to both reduce waste and find beneficial uses for what we cannot use. Since we started working on this eight years ago, we have reduced our overall waste to landfill to just 0.4 percent of input materials. More than 70 of our plants —nearly 50 percent — send zero waste to landfill. We also are working to reduce the amount of materials in our packaging, aiming to reduce packaging by 20 percent per consumer use by 2020.
A third step is to ensure that the materials in our packaging can be recycled. This year, we set a goal calling for 90 percent of our product packaging to be recyclable or to have programs in place to create the ability to recycle it.
Q: P&G has set a goal to double the use of recycled resin in plastic packaging by 2020, using 2010 as the baseline. How do you aim to achieve this?
Sauers: The amount of recycled material (PCR) in our plastic packaging varies by region and packaging design. One of our biggest challenges is that in some areas of the world, we currently cannot get the amount and quality of recyclate needed for our packaging. To meet our new goal, we are working with our supply chain partners to develop the capabilities needed to access the quality and quantity of recycled resin we need.
In North America, for example, we specially designed our laundry bottles to include more recycled material, then worked with recycling companies across the U.S. to build a supply of materials to meet our manufacturing needs. Today, our North American laundry bottles have 28 percent recycled content. Our aim is to apply what we've learned and been able to achieve in North America and both expand it and replicate it globally.
Our programs include, but are not limited to, using more recycled HDPE [high density polyethylene] and PET, mainly in bottles. We also are seeking to possibly use recycled PP [polypropylene] in our rigid applications (caps, closures, spouts, etc) where the quality and price make sense. We use some recycled PP today but our main PCR use is rHDPE and rPET, which is driven by availability of supply and quality of materials.
To meet these goals, we are working with a number of organizations around the world, including many in Europe, including Plastics Recyclers Europe, Petcore, the European PET Bottle Platform along with Horizon 2020 and Life+. We are working with partners across the full PET chain to get the right companies and organizations with creative ideas working together for efficient and effective implementation.
Q: How will P&G go about decreasing the amount of packaging by 20 percent per consumer use by 2020?