Procter & Gamble's commitment to renewable materials includes finding sustainable alternative materials for both products and their packaging, such as renewable forest products and palm oil. It plans to use sustainably-sourced, sugar cane-derived plastic in a new process that transforms sugar cane into high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, commonly used in product packaging.
The HDPE material is aimed at the company's Pantene, Covergirl, and Max Factor products, and it is 100-percent recyclable in existing municipal recycling facilities. Last year, a version of this material appeared in Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion products. This material was produced by first converting some of the sugar cane to ethanol and then into plastic using a sugar cane byproduct from other parts of the plant that creates some of the energy needed to fuel that part of the process.
Procter & Gamble also is focused on R&D with suppliers and partners to identify new renewable materials and methods for sourcing existing materials from renewable feedstocks. In particular, the company has committed to the elimination of PVC in its packaging, and it began avoiding that material in the early 1990s. PVC currently represents less than 1.5 percent of the company's total plastic packaging materials, and Procter & Gamble has said it expects to eliminate all remaining PVC in packaging within the next few years.
More power to you, P&G. It's the big guys with the R&D dollars who can help get some of the initial and ongoing research done in the search for sustainable materials, and who can serve as leaders in their industry.