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P&G VP Of Sustainability Discusses Green Initiatives

tide_coldwater.jpgProcter & Gamble’s sustainability initiatives include plans to cut its carbon footprint by as much as 40 percent by 2012, in part by cutting the size of its packaging, BrandWeek reports. The company recently announced plans to generate at least $20 billion in cumulative sales of products with reduced environmental impact over the next five years.

Len Sauers, P&G’s VP of sustainability, says the company can make the greatest contribution to environmental sustainability by developing “sustainable innovation products,” the environmental profiles of which have been improved with no trade-offs.

An example of such a P&G is Tide Cold Water, Sauer says. Consumers see the same performance in cold water as they do in hot and warm water, but there are no trade-offs, he says, adding that if everyone in the U.S. switched from hot and warm water to cold water for machine laundering, we would eliminate the release of up to 34 million tons of carbon dioxide — nearly 8 percent of the U.S.’ Kyoto target.

But efficiency could cost the company. Wal-Mart’s sustainability initiative to downsize packaging, for example, could cost P&G $200 million by one estimate.

And getting consumers to adopt new products and packaging is not easy. “How do you convince consumers that small is beautiful in laundry?” P&G’s global product supply officer, Keith Harrison, said at a conference last year. “Everyone has managed to do that in cell phones and iPods, but how you get consumers to understand that small is beautiful in laundry will be an interesting challenge.”

While P&G’s initiatives to go green have been criticized, it is in talks to run a plant on wind power and recently committed to phase out all trade in wood from unknown, illegal, and controversial sources.

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