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Sustainability: Procter & Gamble

Sustainability: Procter & Gamble

Procter & Gamble delivered big sustainability news at the Clinton Global Initiative last month.

• Global commitment to move 70% of all wash loads from hot/warm water to cold water by 2020.
• 16 products carry the new Future Friendly seal because they either save energy or water, or reduce waste.
• One of the newest Future Friendly products is Pantene Nature Fusion, whose packaging contains renewable plant-based materials.

Procter & Gamble delivered big sustainability news at the Clinton Global Initiative last month.

At the annual meeting — held for heads of state, chief executive officers and other global leaders to devise solutions to environmental, economic and other issues — P&G announced it will provide 100 million U.S. households with educational materials highlighting the environmental benefits of cold-water washing.

In partnership with The Alliance To Save Energy, P&G plans to accomplish that goal by Earth Day 2013.

The effort is part of P&G’s global commitment to move 70% of all wash loads from hot/warm water to cold water by 2020. Since more than 80% of the energy used in washing comes from heating water, significant environmental benefits could be achieved if consumers switched to products like P&G’s Tide Coldwater liquid laundry detergent, specially formulated for cold-water conditions.

“If all U.S. households washed in cold water, we’d reduce our nation’s carbon emissions by 11 million metric tons annually,” P&G spokesman Glenn Williams told SN.

Tide Coldwater is one of 16 P&G products that carry its Future Friendly seal, a designation given to only those P&G products that help save energy or water, or reduce waste.

The goal of Future Friendly is to give consumers information to make educated purchase decisions.

“Most consumers want to lead a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, but are often confused, or skeptical, about ‘green’ product benefits,” said Williams.

More than 50,000 retail locations participated in the program last year, meaning they supported in-store communications like branded floor stands that hold Future Friendly products, as well as shelf strips and wobblers.

Future Friendly products span across P&G’s Fabric Care, Beauty & Grooming, Home Care and Family Care categories. Along with Tide Coldwater, other Future Friendly Products include Prilosec OTC, which P&G says has saved more than 700 tons of foil-based packaging materials vs. the previous packaging. Then there’s P&G’s concentrated powder laundry detergents, which require less detergent to clean the same amount of loads from regular powders. The concentrated powders require smaller boxes, resulting in reduced carbon emissions, energy consumption, packaging waste and water used during manufacturing and transportation.

One of the newest Future Friendly products is Pantene Nature Fusion, which replaces a substantial amount of petroleum-derived packaging with plastics made from renewable plant-based materials. The material, said to be a first for the hair care industry, is made from sugarcane.

“We know what mainstream consumers want — good value, reliable performance and less environmental impact,” said Williams. “They aren’t willing to make sacrifices in quality, cost or effectiveness.”

Other new Future Friendly products will make their debut around Earth Day 2012.

“We’ve seen good volume increases in Future Friendly products across the board — and that’s good for the environment,” said Williams.

Future Friendly was the theme of P&G’s April 2011 “brandSaver” coupon booklet. Providing more than $110 in savings, the booklet highlighted many of the company's Future Friendly products. The April brandSaver also promoted “Find Your Footprint,” a P&G contest hosted in conjunction with National Geographic to inspire students to monitor and reduce their environmental footprint. Entries demonstrated the importance of conserving natural resources and the steps consumers could take in their homes to improve their own environmental performance.

Future Friendly has also made a name for itself in social media. The Future Friendly Facebook page has more than 150,000 fans; and thousands of people have blogged about the effort.

“That’s important, because it means people are getting educated about the ways they can help the environment without sacrificing product performance or cost,” said Williams.

As for other environmental efforts, P&G runs the My Carbon Footprint app, which empowers users to think about their lifestyle and the choices they make through an interactive question-and-answer format. The goal of the app is to help users understand that by taking small steps in their everyday lives, they can collectively create potentially big benefits for the planet and ultimately improve lives. To date, several thousand consumers have downloaded the app. P&G plans to continue to offer the app at least through Earth Day 2012.

Another way P&G is building interest in conservation is with a partnership with Recyclebank, which rewards households for living more sustainable lifestyles. Members get points for increasing household recycling and reducing home energy usage. The points can be redeemed at local and national businesses.