Greener Package's Anne Marie Mohan recently interviewed Procter & Gamble's VP of global sustainability, Len Sauers, on his company’s environmental sustainability strategy in a podcast that’s illuminating and well worth sharing. In fact, there’s good stuff in this dialogue for every company to consider.

In a nutshell, P&G is looking for more ways to save precious natural resources, energy and water. The company continues to work on cutting costs and carbon emissions in manufacturing and in transporting its products to market. Moreover, P&G is pushing for even more operational and manufacturing efficiency, so it can cut the 4% of waste from the manufacturing process to zero waste output. In order to get there, the company has been selling off product that doesn’t meet its standards to other industries for use in their products.

To add impetus to its ideas, P&G is working with its 75,000 suppliers on environmental sustainability initiatives. They’ve instituted a scorecard to help suppliers measure their environmental impact and openly encourage new ideas from them. P&G’s own internal staff is likewise encouraged to submit their ideas in this vein.

All of this is good. Corporate responsibility equals good corporate citizenship. As the world’s largest CPG company, Procter & Gamble reaches 4 billion consumers now and has ambitious plans to reach another billion within the next five years. It wants to do so in a responsible manner.

Sauers said many important things during his interview, including his company’s commitment to studying the life cycle of products and their impact on consumers as well as the environment. He noted that no claims about sustainability are made about any of the company’s products without sufficient documentation on file. That’s crucial given the loss of credibility incurred from rampant greenwashing these days.

Key is the breakdown of three distinctly different groups of consumers:

  • 15% are very committed to the environment, and they’re willing to accept trade-offs to purchase more sustainable products.

  • 15% of consumers are not engaged in sustainable issues in the least.

  • A whopping 70% of consumers are concerned about the environment and want to purchase sustainable products. However, they will not accept trade-offs in the performance and price of products for the sake of sustainability.

P&G is committed to working to bring products to this 70% of consumers so that they can feel good about purchasing more environmentally responsible products without any trade-offs. Now that’s what I’m talking about!


  • Do you think P&G is taking a leadership role vis-à-vis corporate sustainability practices? Or are you more impressed by other companies? If so, which ones and why?

  • Which companies do you commend for their environmentalism as well as for bringing efficacious products to market that you feel good about purchasing?

  • Do you, as a consumer, prefer to buy more sustainable products or are you more concerned about performance and price first?

I’d love to hear from you.

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Ted Mininni is president and creative director of Design Force, a leading brand-design consultancy.

LinkedIn: Ted Mininni