As one of the world's leading consumer products companies, Procter & Gamble (P&G) has a lot to be proud of. Besides having improved the lives of millions of consumers worldwide with its products for more than 170 years, it has been a pioneer in sustainable development and is dedicated to making sustainable living the foundation of the company's core principles.
The concept of sustainability had been with the company for more than 50 years before the term was even coined, according to Rene Co, director of external relations of P&G Greater China.
"The company felt that it was just the right thing to do back then and we've been doing it ever since," Co says. "Sustainability is a responsibility, as well as an opportunity to make improvements that matter, to make life better for the greatest number of people and to improve lives now and for generations to come."
Co not only leads sustainability programmes on the mainland, he is also responsible for similar schemes around the region, covering 14 cities and countries. He believes the key to sustainable living is innovation. "We are constantly on the lookout for the next innovation, seeking better ways to do things," Co says.
As a global leader in the consumer products sector, serving consumers in more than 180 countries, the company is very much driven by a sense of purpose and responsibility. It has set five sustainability strategies that focus on product innovation, operations, social responsibility, employees and stakeholders so as to allow the company to grow responsibly. On product innovation, P&G has revolutionised many items and reduced packaging. On the mainland, it has reduced plastic packaging by 60 tonnes per year. Its long-term goal is to replace petroleum-based materials with sustainably sourced renewed materials and achieve a higher packaging reduction rate per consumer.
Regarding operational improvements, it will continue to minimise the production of solid waste, and water consumption at all its plants. On the mainland, P&G has achieved network optimisation in sourcing and distribution by reducing the travel distance of its products. This will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2,760 tonnes per year, the equivalent of 2,200 delivery trucks travelling between Beijing and Shanghai.
On social responsibility, it has supported countless disaster relief efforts and fundraising activities. Since 2007, P&G has improved the lives of over 210 million children worldwide.
"At P&G, we understand that tackling environmental challenges is a huge task and not a single company can provide solutions for all," Co says. The company has extended the global P&G-WWF partnership to Asia, tying it to the new China Taicang Plant which will be the first P&G site in the world to support the WWF's Water Stewardship Programme.
"Being green is not a fad. We need to help people change long-term habits and that requires patience. We have to keep on enforcing things with people, set good examples and eventually they will embrace it," Co says.
Take the R for tomorrow (R stands for Responsibility, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle)