P&G chose to take part in professional organizations and associations such as the CNE. It is of great interest for us to be aware of the positions of stakeholders such as consumer organizations, environmental protection associations, distribution companies or packaging manufacturers on relevant matters.
Once positions are clearly stated, we are able to diffuse them within our company and in doing so, raise awareness within our teams and particularly our marketing departments.
Although we are not taking part in every working group within the frame of the college of convenience goods manufacturers, it is of great importance for us to remain informed of the existing reports.
You have been taking part in a round-table conference in November at the occasion of the Packaging Exhibition in Paris. Were you deeply involved in the drafting of the report “Environmental claims on product packaging expressed by the CNE”?
Indeed, environmental claims have been constantly growing for a few years and can sometimes seem too globalizing, imprecise or inadequate. It was indispensable that a meticulous work should be done to sort them out; this need for clarification and simplification also aims at preventing and avoiding unfair competition. In this working group, great attention has been paid to insure coherence with all the regulations in force at the European or even international level.
With this in mind, the CNE designed this reference document in collaboration with all these partners; it expresses its views based on examples as well as recommendations. It can now serve as a reference guidebook to help companies make assertions on the matter clearer, more precise and verifiable.
What exactly is P&G’s environmental policy?
In September 2010 P&G rolled out its new long-term vision on sustainable development. The environmental component relies on two axes: “product” and “production”. As far as the product and its packaging are concerned, our ultimate aim is to use only 100% renewable or recycled materials with “zero waste” in waste-disposal sites and of course products and packaging that are appealing to the consumers.
By 2020, we wish to have replaced 25% of petrol-based materials by products sourced from sustainable materials.
To achieve these goals, we are really responsive to consumers’ wishes in terms of environment protection and, bearing this in mind, we want our approach to be humble, objective, based on tangible facts as well as ambitious. Each innovative product stands for a potential means to improve packaging. Let’s take the brand Pampers as an example: reducing the diaper’s thickness has proved effective and has resulted in a lighter packaging. In two decades, the volume of the packaging has been reduced by 80%.
Similarly, on the Western Europe and United States’ markets, we have been successfully developing the Nature Fusion range for Pantène which is distributed in bottles made for 45% of plastic coming from plants sourced from sustainable plantations (Brazilian sugar cane). This new step proves P&G’s implication in developing products made from renewable materials.
But how is it possible to inform consumers without bombarding them with information?
P&G’s communication relies on the product’s and packaging’s significant progress in terms of environmental impact. It should though be taken into consideration that ecological arguments are sometimes quite complex and difficult to convey to consumers.
As an example, we have been launching in 2011 a liquid concentrated laundry detergent in a significantly more compact bottle. Informing consumers about compaction and raising awareness on new laundry detergent dosage is a real challenge that has to be given priority. Indeed, we did not mention on the packaging itself the benefits in terms of environmental safety (reduced packaging volume, reduced need in transportation trucks…).
These benefits have however been disseminated via press release or our information platforms and consumer magazines.
Communication in France will be easier given the regulation framework established with the CNE’s precious help. The CNE will help communicate this information and highlight assessment criteria and good practices.