Proctor & Gamble recently announced long term environmental goals which are quite ambitious. Among them:

  • Powering plants with 100% renewable energy
  • Using 100% renewable or recycled materials in all products and packaging
  • Having zero consumer or manufacturing waste go to landfills
  • Desiging products that delight customers while maximizing the conservation of resources

These will obviously be difficult goals to achieve and will require changes not only in the business, but also in infrastructure.  Hopefully in attaining 100% renewable energy, P&G will be able to exert its influence on energy providers to increase the amount of this type of energy used in their production.  I was particularly impressed by the third one in the list.  I think its great that they are considering manufacturing waste and that makes a lot of sense.  I think P&G goes a step beyond what is expected of them when they consider consumer waste ending up in landfills.  In particular I think that most companies ignore the impact of their products once they have fulfilled the primary needs of the consumers who purchased them, but P&G is even considering the long term affects of their products on the environment.  Now in some industries considering the environmental impact post-use is an obvious step such as the manufacture of thermometers and the use of mercury, but in general I don’t believe many CPG companies are aware or at least paying close attention to this.  I think it would be great to see P&G not only designing products that can more easily be recycled, but also informing their consumers about the need and procedure to recycle these products (especially considering most states still do not recycle).

One interesting issue related to the increasing practice of environmental sustainability is if and how companies should communicate their efforts to consumers.  I think many consumers are wary of companies jumping on the “green” bandwagon and yet it is important that consumers be educated about the products they buy and thereby the companies they support.  We can see this already with ratings like EnergyStar, which communicates to consumers that the electronics they have purchases cut down on energy usage in comparison to similar devices.  So, we have examples of consumer information on particular products, but it seems less obvious, or at least less mainstream to hear people talk about the particular energy efficiencies or environmental awareness of the parent companies and their operations.  I realize of course that this assignment delivered lists of just such companies, but I don’t believe consumers think on these terms with the same prevalence of judging individual products.

I found an article on LexisNexis called: “Make sustainability the icing on your product’s cake” By  Jonathan Weeks and Laura Furniss brandrepublic.com

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3 responses »

  1. Marc says:

    P&G definitely does have some ambitious goals in place. It’s good to see that a company as big as P&G not settling for the most basic level of sustainability measures and going above a beyond. I thought what was interesting about your post was the part about how companies communicate their efforts to customers. It does kind of diminish the idea of green companies doing something new and spectacular for the environment if everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. However, if companies are seeing that it takes being green in order to get noticed, then I think it’s a good thing overall for the environment.

  2. Cheryl says:

    P&G seems to have lots of big goals in mind. Their first 2 goals I guess are not entirely impossible, given that a lot of companies have come up with packaging and products that can be recycled. I also like the fact that P&G also urges their customers to As for the third goal, I agree that it’s great to see companies taking into account the impacts of their own products on the environment, but I’m really curious about how they plan to achieve zero consumers and manufacturing waste, and also how long-term they plan to make it – is it going to be next year or next decade? I think no matter how great it sounds, it will take a while for us to determine whether the company really means what it says or not, because as far as I know, P&G is still known as the big producer of waste and carbon-dioxide emissions

  3. Lindsay S. says:

    I really admire Proctor & Gamble for thinking out both its short-term and long-term environmental impacts so thoroughly. It is interesting too to consider how such a strategy can have an impact on the value of the company. I remember reading in January a Barron’s 2012 overview of which companies to keep an eye on for excellent equity returns and Proctor & Gamble was high on the list and their sustainability strategy was mentioned if I’m not mistaken. It’s almost like companies are obligated to incorporate this aspect into their future plans now because if they don’t, stakeholders will be asking why not. That said, if they incorporate environmental sustainability half-heartedly, I feel this will also raise a red flag. P&G really is therefore an ideal example of a company trying to lead the industry.

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