The consumer goods industry has entered an era of responsibility, where companies, consumers, governments and non-governmental organizations are collaborating more and more frequently to address some of the biggest challenges facing the world. We now have a better understanding of the wide-ranging impacts of the manufacture and use of consumer goods. Companies like Procter & Gamble are continually refining their approach to developing, manufacturing and marketing products more responsibly and encouraging mindful consumption of the everyday products that many of us often take for granted.
For years, affordability and convenience were among the biggest drivers of consumer purchasing decisions. Yet, around the turn of the century, consumers became more conscious of what they threw away. We saw a shift from a linear, single-use economy to a circular one that encouraged awareness of what was being used, and how it was being disposed of. Slowly, more and more recycling facilities were created, new policies were instituted and new recyclable packaging was developed. Collectively, we became more educated about, and more engaged in, reducing the impacts of consumption on the world we share.
Now, many consumers look for sustainable products made by environmentally-responsible companies. They care about the companies that make the brands they love. And while convenience is still a big factor in their decisions, we believe it can be compatible with a commitment to environmental sustainability. We embrace the growing circular economy, which emphasizes recovery, recycling and reuse to encourage thoughtful consumption of resources and to extend the lifecycle of the materials that go into our products and our packaging. There is now the potential, and the desire, for an economy that is circular – that doesn’t end with a product in landfill.
By enabling the consumers of our products to become a more integrated part of that cycle of use and reuse, we seek to protect our environment and to ensure a better world for our children and our children’s children.
But we know that empowering consumers is only part of what we can do to be good neighbours in our communities and good stewards of the world we live in and the resources we use. We are also constantly examining and refining our own approaches to manufacturing, packaging and shipping; measuring the impacts we have on the environment; and finding ways to reduce that impact.
I’m especially proud of several of the ways Procter & Gamble is innovating to deliver on our commitment to enable consumers to make more sustainable choices.
Earlier this year, our Head & Shoulders brand partnered with recycling and environmental management companies TerraCycle and Suez to introduce France to the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle made from beach plastic. Through this partnership more than half a billion bottles per year will include up to 25 per cent post-consumer recycled waste by the end of 2018. This will represent more than 90 per cent of all the bottles sold in Europe across our hair care portfolio – all completely recyclable, and made with plastic reclaimed from the world’s oceans. And in the United Kingdom, we are introducing Fairy dishwashing soap in bottles made from 100 per cent recycled plastic including 10 per cent from beaches and ocean.
We’ve also discovered a way to increase the use of recycled polypropylene in packaging. It’s difficult to find enough high-quality recycled polypropylene, so one of our scientists invented a technology which removes colour, odour and contaminants to get it to a near-new condition. We are now scaling up this innovation with PureCycle Technologies, and expect it to have a significant impact on the plastics recycling industry – and potentially revolutionize it – by unlocking billions of pounds of polypropylene for reuse.
Besides extending the lifecycle of recycled materials, we’re seeking to reduce waste. In the past, 640,000 metric tons of waste produced at our manufacturing facilities has been disposed of in landfills. So in January, we announced that all our manufacturing facilities around the world will send zero manufacturing waste to landfill by 2020. We have been working with local partners to identify ways to eliminate waste created during the manufacturing process, or to capture and reuse materials and byproducts that would previously have been disposed of. More than 70 per cent of our sites – including all manufacturing sites in two of our largest markets, China and India – have now achieved that status.
We also see an important role for companies like ours in helping reduce the pressure municipal waste is putting on the world’s landfills. We are co-creating and bringing to life sustainable solutions for managing solid municipal waste in the Philippines through our Waste 2 Worth partnership with the Asian Development Bank. Procter & Gamble is also a member of the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance®. Along with other Alliance members, we are committed to a near-term goal of cutting the overall flow of plastic into the world’s oceans in half by 2025. We are now innovating with an eye to reducing or eliminating the potential impact of products and packaging on ocean life and ecosystems.
By keeping manufacturing waste out of the ocean and landfills and extending the lifespan of previously used materials, the company is creating a fundamental shift in the way we, and our consumers, impact the world we live in. This is our responsibility: to use our resources and voice not only to shrink our own environmental footprint, but to encourage those around us to do the same. I am inspired by the progress that has been made as the global community comes together to improve our collective future, for ourselves, each other and future generations.