In September 2021, Procter & Gamble said it would leverage green electricity to achieve net-zero emissions within its four walls and among its suppliers by 2040.
P&G is a multinational company specializing in consumer goods. The Cincinnati-based enterprise has at least $84 billion in sales based on the roughly 65 brands attached to its name.
“We are fully committed to using P&G’s innovation and ingenuity to unlock new solutions to address climate change,” said David S. Taylor, Chairman, P&G President, and Chief Executive Officer. “The task ahead of us is urgent, difficult, and much bigger than any single company or country. P&G is tackling these challenges head-on by reducing our footprint and leveraging our scale to foster unprecedented collaboration across our value chain.”
It’s a quest that began a decade ago. The net-zero promise by 2040 extends from “raw material” to “retailer,” it says. It will follow Science-Based Target initiatives that align with the Paris climate agreement to limit temperature increases to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Its climate action plan will only get better as the technologies improve.
What Green Electricity improvements has P&G made?
- Reducing emissions across its operations. From 2010 to 2020, it has cut emissions at all of its global operations by 52%. It has done so using energy efficiency and green electricity. It’s also working to protect and restore rainforests — nature’s way of soaking up CO2 from the atmosphere. Those projects also protect biodiversity, water, and food security. “Since 2010, we have improved energy efficiency per unit of production by 19%, enabling hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings and ongoing improvements.”
- Accelerating renewable electricity. It either generates or purchases credits that amount to a 97% implementation rate. In 2030, it says that figure will be 100%. P&G’s wind farm in Tyler Bluff, Texas is offsetting all of the electricity it uses at its fabric and home care facilities in the US and Canada. Purchasing renewable energy certificates is one of the reasons its numbers are so high. By buying those certificates, companies guarantee the generation of green energy — even though it is unlikely to get wired to one of P&G’s plants. “We are helping bring new renewable electricity projects online through long-term partnerships that will result in over 500MW of new clean energy, enough electricity to power 125,000 US homes every year.”
- Leveraging renewable thermal energy and green electricity. Some of its manufacturing sites use geothermal, solar, and renewable steam. Where it uses thermal energy tied to fossil fuels, it is committed to deploying the best available technologies. “We have made significant progress via a biomass-powered combined heat and power facility” in Georgia.
- Reducing truck miles by 25% per unit of production.
- Avoiding at least 200,000 tons of plastic through packaging redesign.
- Reducing 15 million tons of CO2 through consumer cold washing.
How does a company like P&G manage its supply chain?
Its supply chain emissions are about 10-times that of its operations. That’s why it set a goal to reduce those so-called scope 3 emissions by 40 percent by 2030. The primary categories are laundry detergent, fabric enhancers, shampoo, conditioners, body wash, and diapers. They account for 90% of scope 3 emissions.
The company has set a goal to reduce “finished product freight emissions intensity” by 50% by 2030. It will therefore use more rail and ship transportation and trucks that are fueled with natural gas and electricity. It is also partnering with its logistics suppliers to obtain data that will allow it to track its progress.
P&G says it is committed to eliminating deforestation in its supply chain — the same rainforests that capture CO2. P&G uses two commodities: wood pulp, which is used in paper towels, tissues, and packaging. Meanwhile, palm oil is used in beauty and laundry products.
“P&G requires that 100% of the wood pulp we source is certified by one of these 3rd party certification systems (Forest Stewardship Council, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification), which include criteria related to protecting both environmental and social values of forests. For every tree we use, at least one is regrown,” the company says.
Moreover, P&G aims to use all recycled packaging paper. It is “advancing innovation in materials derived from renewable, bio-based, or recycled carbon across brands including Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Ariel, Tide, and Pampers.”
In 2020, P&G announced plans to go beyond their existing science-based target of reducing emissions from operations 50% by 2030 to have global operations become carbon neutral for the next decade.
In 2021, P&G unveiled its first paper bottle for Lenor in partnership with paper bottle company Paboco.