Products & Packaging
We combine a deep understanding of consumer habits and preferences with a science-based approach to deliver environmental improvements in our products.
Our Products Approach
At P&G, every sustainability innovation begins with a deep understanding of consumers, so that we can make innovation decisions based on their needs. We know that most consumers are unwilling to make trade-offs on performance or value in an effort to be more sustainable. This insight is consistent around the world.
We have found that two relatively small groups exist, one at each end of a decision-making spectrum. On one end, “niche” consumers are willing to sacrifice performance or value for a more sustainable product. On the other, a small segment is focused on providing “basic living” for their families and do not make purchases based on sustainability factors. But the vast majority of consumers still reside in between these two groups as the “sustainable mainstream.”
Encompassing 70% of consumers overall, this sustainable mainstream group wants product choices that have environmental improvements, but they will only change their purchasing decisions when they can get the performance they require and the value they need. They won’t—and can’t—sacrifice performance or price for environmental benefits, especially in tough economic times.
At P&G, the sustainable mainstream is the focus of our sustainability efforts. This largest consumer segment matters most to us, because meeting their needs lets us provide the greatest positive impact.
In addition to consumer insights, we apply a second key element to making sustainability decisions: a unique, holistic view of technology. We use Life Cycle thinking, a discipline we helped pioneer, to determine a product’s entire environmental footprint, from the procurement of raw materials to the product’s use and ultimate disposal. By examining the many factors in each step, we are able to assess the product’s overall environmental impact.
With this holistic insight, we can identify steps in the cycle where a sustainable improvement can have the most positive impact. In the case of laundry detergent, for instance, our Life-Cycle Assessment revealed that one step of the product’s life cycle consumed far more energy than any other: the heating of wash water during its use in the home. Since this was the biggest opportunity for energy reduction, we focused our sustainability efforts there. First with Ariel in Western Europe and then with Tide in North America, we introduced a formulation of detergent that is optimized for use in cold water, avoiding the need to heat water for washing altogether.
Sometimes, as was the case for Tide Coldwater, our technology insight reveals that changing a product’s formulation will yield the biggest impact. Other times, our assessment provokes a new approach to packaging.
Delighting Consumers and Helping the Planet
Our Blades and Razors category switched its high-volume North America club packaging from plastic thermoform clamshells to a paperboard primary carton — a reduction of 164,000 kg of packing material per year. This new carton made the product more than 50% more efficient to ship and resulted in over $1 million in annual cost savings. Consumers like it better because it’s easier to open, and our retail partners like it because it’s more visually appealing on the shelf.
External partnerships are a key part of our packaging efforts to reduce material usage and increase recycled content in our products. “I lead P&G’s partnership efforts with the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR). APR has helped P&G test new package designs prior to market entry to ensure they are compatible with existing recycling infrastructure. More recently, P&G helped support an APR pilot project focused on recovering grocery store plastic packaging which identified more than 350 million pounds of plastic material that can be used by plastic recycling facilities across the country.”
- Materials & Design
We are always working to reduce the environmental impact of our products through smart design, as well as using renewable and recycled materials.
- Consumer Education
Sustainable product innovations occasionally require consumer education and awareness.
- Sustainable Innovations
These innovations delight consumers, while conserving resources.