P&G advances towards circularity in European operations

Today (3 March) the Procter & Gamble Company shares its latest advancements toward packaging circularity in Europe.

The project forms part of its “Ambition 2030” goals to reduce virgin plastic usage by 50% and reach 100% recyclability or reusability by 2030.

Consistent with the European Green Recovery and its aspiration to shift to a more circular economy, P&G has been the first FMCG company to join the RecyClass initiative, a certification approach for recycling requirements to help deliver the goal of making plastic packaging circular with traceability along the whole value chain.

P&G obtained a record high of 12 product and technology approvals on its packaging across Hair Care, Home Care and Fabric Care brands confirming they meet the Design-for-Recycling criteria guidelines determined by RecyClass.

We are innovating to accelerate the development of the circular economy: from spearheading the Holy Grail intelligent sorting concept, reducing our use of virgin petroleum plastic and increasing recycled material content to developing alternative refill models at scale

P&G Shave Care brands, Gillette and Venus are making strides to eliminate 545 metric tonnes of plastic over a year by moving to recyclable carton packaging.

Moving towards a reuse model breathes longevity into existing products to minimise waste. Household haircare brands, Head and Shoulders, Pantene, Herbal Essences and Aussie launched at scale a new reusable 100% aluminium bottle alongside its recyclable refill pouch, made using 60% less plastic, enabling consumers to maximise product lifecycles.

“Much has changed in the last year, but our commitment to enabling and inspiring positive impacts through our supply chain, our brands and our partnerships has remained the same,” said Virginie Helias, P&G Chief Sustainability Officer.

“We are innovating to accelerate the development of the circular economy: from spearheading the Holy Grail intelligent sorting concept, reducing our use of virgin petroleum plastic and increasing recycled material content to developing alternative refill models at scale. This is a combination of innovation and collective action.”

Reducing plastic use and increasing circularity

RecyClass’ key focus is to drive plastic packaging circularity. P&G has been named as the first FMCG company to join the initiative, an independent platform originated from Plastic Recyclers Europe (PRE).

P&G has received 12 product and technology approvals for its brands Oral B, Tide, Ariel and more, all of whom have redesigned their packs to make them recyclable and meet the RecyClass requirements.

This cross-industry collaboration is essential to drive scale and deliver on P&G’s circularity goals.

Higher recycled content means reducing dependency upon fossil fuel. More than 10,000 tonnes of recycled plastic are now used every year across P&G Fabric and Home Care brands in Fairy, Mr Proper, Swiffer and Lenor.

Breathing new life into existing materials by efficient recycling

Recyclable packaging is often the most familiar starting point to engage with the notion of a circular economy. Improving the recycling rates is essential to bring a new life for exiting materials.

Led by P&G in 2015, Project HolyGrail is an award-winning technology, designed to enhance packaging waste sorting in the EU with the objective to improve both the quality and quantity of recycled plastic.

This watermarking technology is gaining momentum and is now expanding as part of AIM, the European Brands Association, key initiatives.

More than 120 companies from across the value chain are participating in this pioneering project. Outside sorting, data management and consumer engagement are key pillars to the initiative.

Increasing consumer participation and adopting advanced sorting technologies, are essential to improve the recycling rates in Europe.

P&G says it is ‘hopeful’ that this effort to demonstrate the potential of the technology will be recognised by the European Commission and incorporated into their plans for the reform of the Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive.

Beyond efficient sorting, to enable circularity, easy-to-recycle materials should be used at scale, it says. Ensuring packaging remains functional whilst meeting the requirements for recycling systems across Europe is crucial to P&G’s innovation work.

In Europe, P&G’s Fabric & Home care brand including Ariel, Lenor and Dash pod bags and Fairy Automatic Dishwashing capsules bags started transitioning from a multilayer, non-recyclable flexible packaging to a single layer, recyclable packaging made of Polyethylene.

This new packaging follows local eco-design criteria, to ensure the films are compatible within local recycling streams. Improving the packaging of everyday items such as Oral B’s first HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) tubes is another example of how millions of households can now recycle their toothpaste packaging in existing streams.

In the same bathroom, Gillette and Venus have introduced brand new modern and sustainable packaging on their refillable razors range, which sees the brand switch from plastic packaging to recyclable cardboard packaging.

Break the cycle, to end waste through reuse

Moving towards a consumer reuse consumption model breathes longevity into existing products to minimise waste. P&G enters the next phase with LOOP following pilot programs in New York and Paris.

P&G says that the 18 months pilot has taught it the ‘importance of disruptive, innovative refillable packaging that delights and is convenient’.

Through e-commerce expansion, LOOP is looking to derive more consumer insights such as purchase cycles, the preferred offers and the environmental impact at use.

In addition, the cross-industry efforts with LOOP, P&G is innovating with a breakthrough scaled model on reuse. P&G Hair Care brands Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Herbal Essences and Aussie are now able to make huge difference to how people combat bathroom waste.

A new reusable 100% aluminium bottle and recyclable refill pouch en-masse is now available in many stores across Europe. This will enable 200 million European households to recycle, reduce and reuse. This will result in 300 million fewer plastic bottles being produced yearly.

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