P&G seeking to replace 25% of petroleum-based materials with sustainable ones, decrease packaging by 20%, power 30% of its operations with renewable energy by 2020 as company looks to produce products, packaging that enable eco-friendly disposal

LOS ANGELES , September 13, 2011 () – Procter & Gamble Co. produced more than 1 million tonnes of waste last year, which is nearly the waste of two million Americans combined, but the company says it has been able to reduce its landfill waste by half through its sustainability programs over the past five years, with 63% of P&G’s produced waste recycled or reused in 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 12.

P&G’s new goal is to produce products and packaging that enable customers to use and dispose of its goods in more environmentally friendly ways. The company is seeking to replace 25% of petroleum-based materials used with sustainable ones, decrease its packaging materials by 20% and power 30% of its operations with renewable energy by 2020.

The company’s biggest headache in sustainability is due to the impact products have after being purchased by the customer, and though P&G develops products with lower environmental impact, the benefit is only seen when customers utilize the products a certain way, according to the company’s vice president of global sustainability CEO Len Sauers.

P&G is developing products that have less waste after use through initiatives such as packaging reduction and compaction programs, which helps reduce the amount of waste created, Sauers said. The company has stopped 300,000 tonnes of materials going into use in the past could of years, Sauers added.

The company has set goals to cease all consumer manufacturing waste from reaching a landfill through ideas such as discontinuing the use of PVC packaging that is currently not readily recyclable, said Sauers.

P&G presently has 6% of its manufacturing facilities that send no waste to landfill by repurposing things the company once discarded, such as off-spec cosmetics which are now given to a company to produce leather cleaner and off-spec toothpaste that is sent to a jewelry cleaner, Sauers said.

One of the biggest challenges in reaching 100% zero waste in manufacturing is finding locals to take materials believed to have some value, as transport of waste at any distance can cause the positive sustainability benefit to be lost, according to Sauers.

Many people think that replacing petroleum-based materials with more environmentally friendly products is better, but the company wants to ensure it is fully aware of the environmental impact of replacement, Sauers said. When sugar cane is used to make plant-based plastics the effect on agriculture must be understood to ensure a beneficial substitution, Sauers added.

The primary source of this article is The Wall Street Journal, New York, New York, on Sept. 12, 2011.

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