Wonderful world, beautiful people – P&G’s commitment to sustainable packaging

Peter White, Global Sustainability Director, P&G

Beautiful packaging which is a delight to look at and use has always been a critical part of the success of beauty and grooming products. Significant effort and investment is put into creating covetable packaging shapes, colours and graphics, which attract the eye in stores and bathrooms around the world. However, increasingly there is another important dimension to beauty and grooming packaging: sustainability.

P&G’s beauty and grooming brands such as Pantene Pro-V, Olay, Gillette and Max Factor are constantly talking with men and women about their needs, and we’ve found that more than two-thirds are interested in buying more environmentally-friendly products. They’re interested in recyclability, ingredients, and in new innovations which will mean their beauty and grooming regime isn’t just kind to their skin, but kind to the environment too.

Driven by this consumer interest and our underlying long-term sustainability goals, we’ve been working on a series of innovations in beauty and grooming packaging. Firstly, we’ve been working to reduce the quantity of packaging material that we use for each product. This is a priority because from an environmental perspective, it’s almost always better to use less of a material than to find a substitute – in the same manner as energy efficiency. We also have a corporate goal to use 20% less packaging per consumer use of our products by 2020.

Our design teams are making progress across brands; selected products on Pantene Pro-V, Gillette Fusion, and Olay Total Effects have already reduced their packaging weight by at least 10%. The teams use modelling intelligence to help eliminate unnecessary materials. For example, the ‘Bottle Optimal Weight Software’ predicts how bottles will perform throughout the supply chain, allowing the bottles to be optimized to be as lightweight as possible.

However, reducing our material use can only go so far, so our second focus area is on reducing the use of non-renewable (mostly petroleum-based) materials, and replacing them with renewable alternatives. We have set a long term vision of using 100% renewable or recycled materials in all our products and packaging, and by 2020 we’ve pledged to replace 25% of petroleum-based materials with renewable alternatives.

We recently launched our first renewable material pilot on Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion. The packaging includes sugarcane-derived plastic from Brazil, which uses over 70% less fossil fuel than traditional petroleum-based plastic, and has over 170% lower greenhouse gas emissions, according to Life Cycle Assessment analysis. For consumers, it looks, feels and acts exactly the same as traditional plastic, and is just as recyclable as the current plastic bottles, so there are no trade-offs.

On Gillette Fusion ProGlide, we partnered with Be Green® Packaging, a moulded fibre supplier, to develop a breakthrough package for our latest razor. The new package launched in Western Europe with a 75% reduction in plastic and a 20% reduction in gross weight, and it eliminates 100% of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) compared to a standard Fusion outer pack and razor tray. To minimize plastic, the design uses fibre material made from bamboo, sugarcane, and bulrush. Its structure stays strong under compression, sealing and opening forces, and distribution and transportation stresses, while also maintaining a strong visual presence on the shelf.

Although there’s a long way to go on the journey towards sustainability, these packaging innovations are helping us to make real progress. Achieving our long-term vision won’t be easy, but we are committed to making constant improvements to our products and packaging, and ensuring that we’re always meeting the needs of the men and women who buy our products while fulfilling our responsibility to the planet.

You can find out more about our commitment to sustainable packaging by following us on Twitter, visiting our website or contacting us via the P&G corporate press office.

Peter White
Global Sustainability Director, P&G

Our vision

  • 100% renewable or recycled material in all our products and packaging
  • Zero consumer or manufacturing waste to landfill

Our 2020 goals

  • Reduce packaging by 20% per consumer use (vs. 2010)
  • Replace 25% of petroleum-based materials with renewable alternatives

Our progress

  • Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion range involves a 170% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, 70% lower fossil fuel consumption and is 100% recyclable
  • Gillette Fusion ProGlide’s new packaging includes a 57% reduction in plastic, a 20% reduction in gross weight and is 100% PVC free

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