Materials & Design

Doing More with Less

We take a holistic approach to packaging design and material selection. By conducting science-based Life Cycle Assessments, we examine the environmental impact of our products to make the most meaningful improvements. We are always searching for innovative solutions - whether it’s using modelling and simulation to make a more lightweight bottle, or finding a way to ship product without corrugated cases. By partnering with new organisations and working with existing suppliers through our Connect + Develop programme, we’re uncovering new ways to do more with less.

A renewable resource is defined as one that is produced by natural processes at a rate comparable to its rate of consumption. Materials that qualify as renewable resources are usually derived from biomass (e.g., cellulose).

P&G is partnering with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to focus on sustainable sourcing of materials for P&G products, including renewable forest products and palm oil. As we move to using more renewable materials, particularly materials such as pulp and palm oil, we need to ensure that production does not lead to loss of natural ecosystems, with associated loss of biodiversity. Our sustainable forestry policy already requires us to only source pulp from certified sustainable operations. In addition, we are working to ensure that we only source palm oil and derivatives from confirmed responsible and sustainable sources by 2015.

Recently, P&G announced our planned use of sustainably sourced sugarcane-derived plastic on Pantene and Max Factor. The new material is made in an innovative process which transforms sugarcane into high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, a type commonly used for product packaging. It remains 100% recyclable in existing municipal recycling facilities. In addition, P&G has a major R&D effort underway to identify new renewable materials and ways to source existing materials from renewable feedstocks. In most cases, we work with suppliers and external R&D partners to develop renewable materials.

Eliminating PVC
Commonly found in “clamshell” and “blister” packages, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) has been a widely used packaging material across much of the consumer goods industry for many years.

PVC has also been the source of recurring controversy regarding its disposal to household solid waste incinerators, and its compatibility with plastics recycling. As a result, P&G began to avoid the use of PVC in its packaging in the early 1990s.

It is a challenge to find technically effective and affordable alternatives to PVC for some applications. However, in partnership with our packaging suppliers, we have overcome many of these barriers. Today, PVC represents less than 1.5% of the Company’s total use of plastic packaging materials.

We expect to eliminate all remaining uses of PVC in our packaging within the next few years.

Now and for generations to come
Sustainability is embedded in P&G’s purpose: to touch and improve lives now and for generations to come.

2010 Sustainability Overview Report (pdf)
2010 Sustainability Full Report (pdf)