Sustainability Frequently Asked Questions
View our most frequently asked questions related to P&G Professional and our commitment to sustainability.
For 175 years, P&G's Purpose, Values and Principles (PVP) have been guiding the way we do business. Since the beginning, we've conducted our business with a focus on personal and professional ethics and principle-based management. Integrated into our PVP is the promise to "improve the lives of the world's consumers, now and for generations to come."
To fulfill that promise, we take a holistic approach to sustainability, working on multiple aspects of sustainability across products, operations, and social responsibility. In 2002, we set a 10-year target for key deliverables in each of these three areas; in 2007, we found that we had made so much progress that we increased them.
For products, we will continue to delight our consumers with sustainable innovations that improve our products, with a goal of $50 billion in sales by 2012. As of the end of 2010, we've reached the $26 billion mark.
For operations, we've set a worldwide goal to deliver a 50% reduction vs. 2002, per unit of production, in energy use, water use, CO2, and waste by 2012. That means that a bottle of Tide in 2012 will be produced with 50% less of these resources than in 2002. As of the end of 2010, we've already reached the 50% mark vs. the 2002 benchmark.
In social responsibility, we are working to improve the lives of children around the world through our Live, Learn and Thrive program. Our global activities include opening 140 Hope Schools in developing countries, helping children in poverty stricken areas gain access to education, delivering 4 billion liters of clean drinking water to kids via our Children's Safe Drinking Water program, and partnering with the UN and other agencies to deliver 50 million doses of vaccine to help prevent maternal and neonatal tetanus in the developing world.
Throughout our history, we've focused on doing what's right, and our approach to sustainability is fully consistent with this basic company principle. We are accountable for delivering our goals year on year, and committed to improving P&G's sustainability results consistently and reliably over the long term. To learn more, please see our online sustainability report, prepared using the Global Reporting Initiative's G3 guidelines.
P&G has a strong history of sustainability work, going back decades.
In the 1950s, we developed one of the first environmental safety publications in the industry, focusing on measuring river surfactants. In the 1960s, we created our first Water Quality Laboratory, and made the switch to safer anionic surfactants for cleaning. In the 1970s we founded our Corporate Environmental Safety Department, both in the US and Europe. In the 1980s, we co-founded the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, to further advance the development of environmental risk science.
In the 90s, we phased out elemental chlorine use in our pulp paper and committed to sustainable forestry for sourcing pulp in our paper products. We were among the first to phase out alkyl phenol ethoxylates (APEOs) in our industry, and by 1999 began publishing annual sustainability reports.
In the 2000s, we founded the Children's Safe Drinking water program, developed new laboratory standards for assessing biodegradability that were adopted by the OECD, and introduced Tide and Ariel cold water cleaning formulas, promoting energy savings via low temperature washing. We also led the laundry industry to introduce 2x compacted detergents, allowing consumers to do the same number of loads of laundry with less product.
Going forward, we will continue to innovate in our products and processes, and work to improve the lives of children around the world through our corporate philanthropy.
P&G is the largest consumer packaged goods company in the world today. This very fact, coupled with our Purpose-inspired Growth Strategy—improving the lives of more consumers, in more parts of the world, more completely—requires us to continue to grow responsibly. And it also requires us to accelerate our commitment to helping solve some of the world's sustainability challenges. Consequently, we have developed a new long term vision for the company.
Long term vision:
- 100% renewable energy to power our plants
- 100% renewable or recycled materials for all products and packaging
- ZERO consumer waste going to landfills
- ZERO manufacturing waste going to landfills
- ZERO carbon dioxide or toxic emissions
- Delivering effluent water as good or better than influent water quality, with no contribution to water scarcity
Designing products to delight consumers while maximizing conservation of resources
As this vision will take decades to achieve, we have also announced new 10-year goals that will set us on an incremental path toward achieving our long-term vision. These goals will focus our efforts where we can make the most meaningful difference in environmental sustainability. The 2020 sustainability goals toward minimal impact are the first of our incremental 10-year targets.
- Replace 25% of petroleum based materials with sustainably sourced materials
- Move 70% of laundry loads globally to using cold water wash
- Reduce packaging 20% (per consumer use)
- Pilot studies to understand how to eliminate consumer solid waste in landfills
- Have 30% of our plants' energy needs met via renewable energy sources
- Reduce manufacturing waste so that less than half a percent is disposed of in landfills
- Reduce truck transportation by 20%
- How does P&G ensure its products are safe for the environment and humans?
P&G carefully evaluates the safety of our products and ingredients before they go to the market, using well established risk assessment methods to understand both the hazards and potential exposures. These risk assessments are a mandatory part of the company's product development process and begin during the early stages of a product's design. These safety standards are used everywhere we sell or make products.
Beyond establishing the human and environmental safety of our products, P&G fully complies with applicable legal requirements in its markets around the world including appropriate use and precautionary first aid information.
We use state-of-the-art product life cycle assessments to determine environmental safety at every stage of a product's life cycle, from raw materials through disposal. We have hundreds of scientists world-wide focused on environmental health and human safety.
P&G has been recognized by many external groups on numerous occasions for its sustainability work.
Below are just a few of the most recent:
P&G recognized by EPA for Children's Safe Drinking Water program
- Ranked 14th on Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine's Annual 100 Best Corporate Citizens List
- Winner, Justmeans.com's Social Innovation Award
- Presidential Green Chemistry Award for Sefose molecule
- P&G named to Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World
- 13th on Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World
- P&G announces long term strategy to achieve minimal impact goals
Does this award apply to PGP?
Yes, this award applies to all P&G detergents including those sold for professional use. P&G Professional follows the same, strict standards for human and environmental safety as those used on our retail consumer products. Unlike some other professional laundry detergents, Tide professional uses no phosphates and is alkaline free.
In P&G Professional, we use the same approach to safety that our corporate parent uses. We focus on developing and delivering products that meet the cleaning needs of professionals in the "away from home" market—the food service, hospitality, care home, and cleaning industries. We do so in a way that is always consistent with doing what is right and with our promise to do this now and for generations to come.
P&G Professional's Green Guarantee signifies that we work to design sustainability into everything we do - our products, our packages, and our processes. All P&G Professional Green Guarantee products provide outstanding performance while meeting high standards for human and environmental safety. All products with the Green Guarantee meet applicable state and federal guidelines, including those of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
P&G Professional is not against 3rd party ecolabels. However, we are concerned that such labels may not be based on state-of-the-art risk science and lack, therefore, the scientific rigor and transparency we believe is necessary. As the largest consumer products manufacturer in the world, P&G has the capability to do world class science in world class facilities; we want to make sure 3rd party endorsers have similar capabilities to do scientific testing properly.
Additionally, ecolabels based on "hazard" standards—as opposed to the risk science used by government agencies, universities, and most major corporations—make it more difficult to innovate new, beneficial products that are safe for consumers. We want to make sure that a 3rd party endorser's standards don't "backfire" and make it harder to create more sustainable products with new technology in the future.
Finally, we are concerned about possible conflict of interest issues, as the business model for some ecolabels involves high registration fees.
We are therefore very selective in any 3rd party ecolabel endorsement we seek.
In the past, we have used only our Green Guarantee, because many ecolabels used hazard-based, not scientific risk-based, assessments. However, we recognize that many customers look for 3rd party seals as an easy way to define whether a product is "green." We have therefore decided to use select 3rd party ecolabels on our products to meet the needs of those customers.
The scientific approach used by industry, research universities, government, and medicine for assessing environmental impacts is called "risk science." It looks to understand how chemicals affect things by measuring both possible effects AND the amount of exposure.
This is exactly the same approach used for medicines—some medicines are very powerful and must be used in low doses; others are less powerful and can be used safely in higher doses. Agencies like the Food and Drug Administration exist to ensure that the proper science is used to weigh benefits and risks, with usage instructions and precautions indicated.
P&G believes in applying this science to develop and market beneficial technologies, while ensuring that we protect both people and the environment.
While we respect the work of third party eco-labels, and we are aligned with them in the effort to drive sustainable cleaning products, we believe that the way to get there is by using state-of-the-art science. Many eco-labels do not use risk science, but a hazard approach. This simply involves lists of chemicals that they feel should not ever be used.
This makes sense for really dangerous ingredients—but in most cases those have already been prohibited by state and federal agencies. The problem is that they apply hazard standards to a broader range of ingredients, even if there is scientifically obtained data that shows the chemicals cause no harm when used in appropriate ways and amounts.
An analogy would be to ban aspirin because consuming an entire bottle could hurt you. There are big benefits to aspirin, and getting the dose—the exposure level—correct is critical.
This is exactly what risk science does, which is why it is the approach used by governments, universities, and companies. It's particularly important when it comes to sustainability. For example, to create products that could have significant impacts on carbon dioxide emission and reduce energy use, researchers need more flexibility in designing and testing new formulas.
Employing state-of-the-art risk science means more work, and to do that work we have hundreds of human and environmental safety researchers testing every product and package we make. We believe it is the right thing to do, because it lets us develop safe, new products for consumers, and through innovation, helps to reduce or eliminate environmental impacts.
P&G believes in using formulations that have been tested using the most advanced risk science possible. We disagree with Green Seal's approach of using hazard standards instead of risk science, and with the way in which they have implemented the GS 37 standard:
Specifically for daily cleaners, Green Seal 37 would broadly restrict many chemicals, without using risk science to determine their safety profiles. Supporting GS 37 would deny researchers the ability to learn the amounts and conditions under which chemicals can be used safely. This would make it harder for manufacturers to develop new products, and it would take away the incentive to innovate, at a time when we need new innovation to create sustainable products for a growing population, both in developed and developing countries. In some instances, the inflexible use of hazard standards can make it difficult to certify products that actually have significant green advantages, defeating the standards' purpose.
Additionally, Green Seal specifically states in the foreword of GS 37 that the standard does not include provisions for human safety. We think a truly holistic approach to sustainability should include this.
Finally, GS 37 was passed without a majority vote for approval by stakeholders.
We want to work with Green Seal where we can to advance the broader cause of sustainability, and in many other areas we think we can work together to do that. But we feel that GS-37 as it currently exists has substantial shortcomings, and we cannot support it at this time.
Yes, we have had many properties recently score the green cleaning LEED innovation point using PGP cleaners. These include schools, hotels, and quick serve restaurants.
PGP disinfecting cleaners and floor products meet the California VOC requirements specified in LEED standards and therefore can also qualify for the green cleaning innovation point.
We are happy to work with customers who are seeking LEED certification of their properties by providing data on our cleaners and the LEED process.
Disinfectants are given an EPA registration number indicating they are effective at killing germs through a certification process that falls under FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act).
The EPA does NOT allow green claims on FIFRA certified products today. No disinfectant can currently claim to be green.
In the future, this may change. The EPA is undertaking a pilot to explore certifying "green disinfectants," products that kill germs but are formulated to be more sustainable. P&G's Comet Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner is participating in this pilot.
As of this time, however, there are no government agency or 3rd party ecolabel standards for green disinfectants. In the absence of any regulation or standards, P&G relies on world class human and environmental risk assessment that includes a wide range of exposure based testing. We also look at bioaccumulation, sediment terrestrial toxicity, wastewater removal, inherent biodegradation and other broader environmental assessment endpoints. We then use this data to formulate disinfectants that are safe for humans and the environment.
Our commercial Tide is alkaline free, with a near neutral pH, and we have voluntarily eliminated phosphates in our laundry formulas. In addition, our Tide Professional 2x concentrate formula minimizes packaging waste and saves water, gas, and labor.
With products in virtually every US home, P&G follows strict standards for both human and environmental safety. Our Product Safety & Regulatory Affairs (PS&RA) is responsible for ensuring that products and packages are designed to be safe for consumers and the environment, in compliance with the applicable laws and regulations everywhere they are sold.
Within PS&RA, our Central Product Safety (CPS) organization has direct responsibility for ensuring our products are safe for consumers and the environment. Its primary role is to advance the science of understanding and evaluating the human and environmental safety of our products. An External Advisory Board consisting of several distinguished academic scientists, as well as a standing Sustainability External Advisory Panel, comprised of representatives from many environmental NGOs are part of the evaluation process.
We are thought leaders in establishing safety standards in the industry and have taken an active role in science-based efforts to help establish broad laundry safety standards.
Yes. Zinc is unequalled in its ability to provide lasting shine and is used in most floor finishes. Its use helps to reduce the number of strippings and recoatings over the life of the floor. This can help reduced the frequency of application, burnishing, and stripping, which can in turn help reduce the use and disposal of unnecessary chemicals.
We recognize, however, that some customers want to use zinc-free products. Therefore one of the seven new floor finish products, New Directions, is zinc free.
Retail detergents are not permitted to contain phosphates but in the commercial business, there is no overarching law forbidding the use of phosphates. P&G voluntarily reformulated its retail as well as commercial detergent back in the 1980s because the public wanted phosphate-free detergents. Other commercial detergent companies have not yet chosen to take this approach and market commercial laundry products containing phosphates.
If we thought that the so-called natural cleaning ingredients were better, we would use them. However, soils are generally mixtures and mixed soils demand mixed active systems for best performance (Never mix your own chemicals as combinations can be hazardous).
All so-called natural cleaning solutions also use chemicals—chemicals are the components of everything around us—we simply associate natural with certain things that have been touted as such; for example baking soda or lemon juice or vinegar. Even ingredients thought of as "natural" can be damaging when improperly used as a cleaner.
P&G Professional products are carefully evaluated for their human, environmental and in-use safety prior to ever being marketed, with a program of very thorough, detailed and rigorous testing behind them. Appropriate directions for use are provided on the labeling, any critical hazards or safety information is provided on the labeling, and detailed safety information is available on the MSDS.
We work with partner manufacturers to create supplemental products for specific product needs such as oven cleaners or de-limers. We do not manufacture these supplemental products ourselves, and they are not covered by Green Guarantee.
Yes, Green Guarantee covers all P&G manufactured products.