Procter & Gamble Release Sustainability Overview: Designed To Matter- Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives

Worldwide pharmaceutical company Procter & Gamble have released their 2009 Sustainability Overview – Designed to Matter. The company focuses on five strategic sustainability concepts, including:

  • Products;
  • Operations;
  • Social Responsibility;
  • Employees; and
  • Stakeholders.

Product Innovation Leads to Sustainability Improvements

Procter and Gamble’s commitment to sustainability is shown in the development of new products. Product development is aimed at the majority of consumers who would like to improve sustainability outcomes without necessarily comprising value or quality.

During 2008, Procter and Gamble was able to reduce packaging waste in Turkey via changing the standard carton packaging to a fully recyclable seal tight plastic material packaging for its Ariel granule detergent product. The change in packaging has resulted in an 80% decrease in the amount of packaging used comparative to carton packaging.

Reducing the Environmental Impacts of Manufacturing Operations

Environmental impacts disclosed by Procter and Gamble include water usage, energy usage, carbon emissions and total waste. The company reports that energy use at its household care plant in Canada has decreased by 20% through upgrades to plant equipment. However the sustainability overview does not disclose the cost of the upgrades and what, if any, financial savings have been made in energy expenditures.

Procter and Gamble also highlight the seemingly impressive 86% decrease in waste achieved at their Bangkok beauty care plant, which resulted from a waste de-watering process reducing the volume of waste material. It is not disclosed in the overview whether this procedure will be replicated at other Procter and Gamble manufacturing operations throughout the world.


Social Responsibility, Employee Engagement and Stakeholders

Many projects in the developing world have benefited from the assistance of Procter and Gamble. In conjunction with the United Nations, vaccinations to protect against maternal and neo-natal tetanus have been made available for mothers and babies in developing countries. Consumers of the Pampers brand of nappies have assisted Procter and Gamble’s efforts with the purchase of one pack of Pampers nappies providing one vaccination.

Safe drinking water and hygiene campaigns have also been funded with the assistance of consumer purchases of selected Procter and Gamble products. Projects to increase access to education, including Protecting Futures: Keeping Girls in Education which provides sanitary protection products so that girls can remain in school, are highlighted in the sustainability overview.

Employee engagement initiatives including encouraging employees to take personal responsibility for sustainability matters by reducing waste, travel and energy use and the Live, Learn and Thrive program which provides opportunities for employees to participate in volunteering. Other employee engagement practices used include an idea challenge in India and sustainability educational presentations from senior management members.

Procter and Gamble states in the Sustainability Overview that it is “committed to being part of the solution” in relation to sustainability. To that end, the company has taken part in a variety of stakeholder and industry collaborative projects including product safety, climate change and assisting the developing world.

Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives Are Similar to Other Organisations

Similar to other large and multi-national organisations, Procter and Gamble’s corporate social responsibility and sustainability initiatives are comprised of a mixture of waste minimisation and reducing use of natural resources, assistance to communities in the developing world through increasing access to the organisation’s products and increasing employee engagement through projects including employee volunteering schemes.

The Procter and Gamble Sustainability Overview is an interesting snapshot of the company’s corporate social responsibility efforts. However, the release of the full sustainability report, due in the near future, will provide an opportunity to undertake a full review of Procter and Gamble’s corporate social responsibility performance.

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