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Procter & Gamble, EPA to Develop Sustainable Manufacturing Tool

Procter & Gamble and the EPA are embarking on a five-year research collaboration to develop a sustainability tool for modeling and assessing product design, material sourcing, and manufacturing options.

The global personal care product company and the EPA’s National Risk Management Research Laboratory have signed a cooperative research and development agreement aimed at improving sustainability at manufacturing facilities and at their associated supply chains. The research and development under the agreement will be aimed at helping P&G meet its long-term environmental sustainability vision, announced in September of 2010.

This vision includes: 1) powering its plants with 100 percent renewable energy; 2) using 100 percent renewable materials or recyclate for all its products and packaging; 3) having zero consumer or manufacturing waste going to landfills; and 4) designing products that delight consumers while maximizing the conservation of resources. P&G hopes to meet all of these goals by 2020.

In order to meet this commitment, P&G says new methods and tools are needed to help optimize design and decision-making across a wide range of operations and supply choices. The EPA has developed a comprehensive list of sustainability metrics and performance indicators that can be used to quantify sustainability in a manufacturing and supply chain context, while P&G says it has a diverse set of manufacturing operations and supply chains that can be employed to help optimize the use of those metrics.

The joint project will develop the modeling and assessment tool based on metrics from P&G’s tissue and towel range.

Established under the 1986 Federal Technology Transfer Act Cooperative, the EPA’s research and development agreements allow non-federal partners – such as private companies – to conduct research at EPA facilities and collaborate with the EPA on research. There are currently over 30 such agreements active, with organizations including Covanta Energy Corporation, the Helsinki University of Technology and New York Energy Research.

In financial year 2009, 83 new cooperative research and development agreements were signed. In that year the program reported eight inventions and three patent applications, and the EPA earned $849,000 in royalties on its inventions, according to EPA figures.

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