At P&G, every sustainability innovation begins with a deep understanding of consumers. Because we are in touch with consumers’ lives, 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.
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.
The Pampers brand used the Life Cycle Assessment to identify where to focus their next innovation.