By: Patrick Masscheleyn
Senior Vice President, Research & Development
Global Product Stewardship: Safety-Sustainability-Regulatory-Technical Relations
Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble (P&G) consumer products are used by over five billion people each day around the world. As people know P&G through its brands, P&G’s environmental sustainability program – Ambition 2020 – represents a deliberate focus on elevating the role P&G brands and innovation can play in driving positive environmental impacts while providing superior product performance.
Tide Laundry Detergent Zeroes in on Environmental Sustainability
As America’s number one laundry detergent, more than 40 million families in the U.S. rely on Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) Tide (www.Tide.com) laundry detergent for their laundry care needs. With a dedicated consumer base of this size, Tide has the unique opportunity and responsibility to implement policies and develop innovations that can drive significant, positive environmental impact.
For P&G and Tide, our environmental sustainability goals transcend manufacturing and production and extend throughout the product’s lifecycle. The environmental sustainability goals include providing further transparency around our ingredient innovation and safety science, as well as 2030 targets to reduce water usage at our Tide manufacturing plants by 40%, to use 100% recyclable packaging and a 50% virgin plastic reduction in the making of Tide Liquid bottles.
100% of the electricity used in Tide manufacturing plants are offset by renewable energy from the Tyler Bluff, Texas, wind farm. We are now focusing our efforts on further reducing the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) throughout our supply chain, and building partnerships with our suppliers and retailers to optimize transportation of our products, such as reducing the number of trucks on the roads.
Tide Carbon Footprint
As we looked across the energy use and GHG emissions for each lifecycle phase, we realized the single greatest opportunity we had to reduce emissions was associated with the consumer use phase of our laundry detergents. The majority (>60%) of GHG emissions generated in the lifecycle of laundry detergent occurs in the energy use required to heat the water in laundry machines. The Life Cycle Analysis study further demonstrated that if we could get consumers to wash in cold water and other low energy cycles, we could help enable a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Importance of Washing With the Cold Setting
Based on these findings, Tide is committed to establishing cold water washing as the industry standard. To help achieve this, Tide is focusing on innovation for superior cleaning using less energy. Working with supply chain partners, P&G scientists are developing surfactant and enzyme systems that deliver outstanding performance in cold water cycles. This is a critical focus, as we know that consumers will only adopt the habit change of washing in cold if the laundry detergent they are using delivers the cleaning performance they expect. Leveraging the Tide Brand voice in communication and advertising, we are informing consumers of the environmental benefit of increasing the number of cold washing loads. To encourage washing in cold, Tide campaigns stress multiple benefits, including saving energy, saving money, clothing longevity, and in the case of “quick and cold” – saving time.
After years of sustained effort, we have seen the percentage of cold machine-washing loads in the US increase to 48% of loads, and we are working to increase this significantly over the coming decade to eliminate millions of metric tons of CO2 annually.
Ambition 2030 (https://us.pg.com/environmental-sustainability/); our environmental sustainability program, represents a deliberate focus on elevating the role our brands and innovation can play in driving positive environmental impacts while providing superior product performance. As we undertake this grand challenge, we do so by leveraging a strong foundation of ingredient, product and packaging stewardship to help identify where and how we can have the greatest impact that meaningfully contributes to societal challenges in the Brands key environmental impact area.
Across P&G’s portfolio, leading brands like Tide are supporting Ambition 2030 to drive positive environmental and societal impacts. As individual brands develop and activate sustainability action plans, science and data continue to guide our efforts and serve as the foundation upon which we work. While we still have much to learn and much to do, we draw both confidence and inspiration from our Tide laundry case study as a pragmatic example of the power of brands and innovation to drive positive impact.
This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.
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