Brand giants get green

11 April 2011

NEW YORK: Brand owners like Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Nestlé are enhancing their green credentials, a process which has boosted product innovations and revenues.

Procter & Gamble, the parent of Tide and Pampers, has recently upgraded its Sustainability Supplier Scorecard, with which the company assesses 400 partners from ad agencies to IT providers.

Around 40% of submissions for the latest Scorecard contained new eco-friendly ideas that could be implemented in the future.

"By urging collaboration and unlocking innovation to create meaningful environmental progress, the initiative has already been a success," said Len Sauers, Procter & Gamble's vp, global sustainability.

"Using 100% renewable or recycled materials for all products and packaging will only be achieved through strong collaboration with our business partners."

Coca-Cola has developed fully recyclable racks for delivering drinks to retailers, alongside selling Dansai water in bottles utilising constituents derived from plants.

"It's our goal to make traditional plastic bottles a thing of the past," Scott Vitters, Coca-Cola's general manager, PlantBottle packaging.

While the Atlanta-based operator has made significant strides in this area, it plans to further improve performance by engaging all key stakeholders.

"Coca-Cola recovered 400m pounds of cans and bottles in the US in 2010, yet we want to do more," Gary Wygant, vp, business development, Coca-Cola Recycling, said.

PepsiCo will roll out bottles comprised entirely of renewable materials like switch grass, pine bark and corn husks next year, and hopes to use substances such as orange peel and oat hulls going forward.

As well as reducing the organisation's carbon footprint, this programme could enable it to exploit existing resources, Indra Nooyi, the firm's chief executive, said.

"PepsiCo is in a unique position ... to ultimately source agricultural by-products from our foods business to manufacture a more environmentally-preferable bottle for our beverages business," she said.

Michael Washburn, director of sustainability at Nestlé's bottled water division, joined the Swiss food giant from environmental advocacy group The Wilderness Society.

"This is my first job in a corporation and there's a certain amount of scepticism coming into it," he said.

Nestlé has determined 17 objectives concerning green matters, and Washburn argued "brand risk" might hit companies failing to act, and financial gains are available from responding effectively.

"It's at once altruistic and mercenary," he said. "The minimum thing a brand should do is take the risk off the table."
"We engage with officials that protect clean water at large, and we have 15,000 acres that we own and protect," he said. "Do I think we need to scare people to sell our products? No."

There is a high likelihood of governments making more demands on the private sector, something Joan Pierce, Colgate-Palmolive's vp, packaging sustainability, warned may not be advantageous.

"I do not feel legislation is necessary to resolve this issue," she said. "We certainly do have a problem, but if you have every stakeholder sitting at a table with an open mind, you will get a solution."

"We have the technology, the desire and we will achieve the results. We don't need a legislator to tell us what to do."

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo's chief executive, similarly cautioned that solely reacting to legal requirements was inadequate.

"People don't want businesses they can trust because of regulations. They want businesses they can trust because they're trustworthy," she said.

Data sourced from Bevnet, Delaware Online, Environmental Leader, Plastics News; additional content by Warc staff