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Sustainability at Procter & Gamble

"A central topic for us as packaging engineers"

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(Bild: Procter & Gamble)

neue verpackung: Procter & Gamble wants to reduce its emissions by 50 % in the future - as a company, where exactly are you starting?

Jürgen Dornheim: Procter & Gamble has set itself comprehensive sustainability goals, particularly in climate protection. We have pledged to be climate-neutral by 2030. In order to combat climate change decisively, we are relying on innovative technology on the one hand and on projects to preserve and protect nature on the other.

Specifically, we are working to reduce our own CO2 emissions by 50 % over the next decade to 2030 and to use 100 % green electricity worldwide. USA, Canada and Europe have already switched to green power. In addition, P & G will implement its own wind, solar and geothermal projects to further accelerate the transition to renewable energy.
For emissions that cannot be eliminated by 2030, P & G will invest in natural climate mitigation solutions capable of sequestering CO2. According to our internal calculations, we estimate that we will offset around 30 million tons of CO2 emissions in the period of 2020 to 2030. Investments in natural climate protection solutions such as reforestation play an important role. This includes projects to protect and restore critical ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, grasslands and peatlands.

In addition to the ecological benefits of near-natural climate protection solutions, P & G ensures that the supported projects also have a positive impact in the social sphere.

neue verpackung: At the German Sustainability Award, you presented refillable shampoo bottles. Are there other products to follow here?

Jürgen Dornheim: Packaging innovations play an important role across all our categories. The new "Refill the good" refill system for our hair care brands is the first of its kind. We want to use it to promote new routines in everyday life that ensure greater sustainability. We will closely monitor the development of our new refill system and expand the approach as appropriate. In addition to refill systems, we will be introducing other new packaging concepts in the near future.

neue verpackung: What tools (for example, Design4Recycling from Grüner Punkt) does P & G use to increase the recyclability of plastic packaging as early as the packaging development stage?

Jürgen Dornheim: Sustainable design for recycling is a central topic for us as packaging engineers and is very close to our hearts. New packaging solutions are developed based on scientifically proven principles of recyclability and lifecycle assessments. A good example is the newly developed Blend-a-med toothpaste tube, which will be launched in April as a recyclable HDPE tube and has the potential to fundamentally change the tube market.

Jürgen Dornheim, Director Corporate Packaging Procter & Gamble
Jürgen Dornheim, Director Corporate Packaging Procter & Gamble

(Bild: Procter & Gamble)

neue verpackung: Where are the biggest obstacles (barrier versus shelf life/caps and lids/labels ...) for recycling-friendly packaging?

Jürgen Dornheim: When we think about packaging today, the topic of circular economy with the aspects of full recycling as the core. At the same time, we do not lose sight of the function that packaging must fulfill for the product in question. In order to reconcile the two, new developments were necessary, for example, with regard to the issue of durability or the use of more recyclable materials. In addition, recyclability depends on the recycling industry.

In this context, the development of digital watermarks is a significant step towards a functioning recycling economy. They improve the recycling sorting technology, and the recovered materials have better quality. With the development of digital watermarks, we have used our innovative power to accelerate the circular economy.  

We have developed a new and advanced technology that can recycle polypropylene into high food-suitable qualities. Our goal is to be able to use the material in concrete products with high quality. To increase scalability and make the technology usable across the board, we have licensed it so that other companies can also use recycled polyprop material. The new Purecycle technology makes it possible to use recycled polypropylene without restriction for all our applications.

neue verpackung: Consumers prefer paper-look packaging. Many fiber-based packages would need an additional plastic coating, which makes recycling difficult or impossible. How do you manage the balancing act between marketing and ecological common sense?

Jürgen Dornheim: When we as a company launch paper packaging on the market, we make sure that it can be completely recycled in the paper cycle. The issue of possible coatings must be considered on a case-by-case basis, because plastics are already unnecessary in many cases. This area will certainly set new innovative challenges for the industry.

neue verpackung: How do the legal framework conditions have to change in order to achieve closed material cycles?

Jürgen Dornheim: There are considerations to reward the recyclability of packaging more strongly. We have a lot to gain from this. The purely price-based consideration for recyclates is disadvantageous compared to virgin plastic. Sensible political framework guidelines can send important signals here to strengthen the circular economy.

 

The questions were asked by Eva Middendorf and Philip Bittermann, both editors of neue verpackung

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Philip Bittermann

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