Walking the Talk
Virginie Helias:
How P&G Is Helping to ‘Redefine the Good Life’

It’s already been a busy year for Procter & Gamble – full of new milestones, goals and partnerships aimed at continuing to improve its products and operations along the entire value chain.

We caught up with P&G’s VP of Global Sustainability, Virginie Helias, ahead of her upcoming keynote at SB’17 Detroit, to hear the latest on the company’s progress on its multifaceted sustainability agenda.

When we spoke last summer, you had just stepped into the role of VP of global sustainability. You said that fostering employee engagement around P&G’s sustainability agenda would be one of your first orders of business – what progress has been made in that area?

Yes, indeed! We have continued our work to integrate sustainability into the strategy of all our categories, our innovation, brand building and culture. We have encouraged all our business leaders to talk to their people about the importance of sustainability for the work they do, and today 80 percent of our employees believe that they can contribute to their organization’s sustainability efforts, across all categories and functions.

P&G started 2017 by announcing that 56 percent of its global production sites have achieved zero waste to landfill status, with a goal of 100 percent getting there by 2020; and launching the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle made with recycled beach plastic – what aspects of P&G’s zero-waste journey are most exciting and/or challenging? Are there any other initiatives/partnerships/milestones in the pipeline?

As you can imagine, some sites will require more effort to achieve this milestone than others, but we are actively mapping out what is necessary to ensure we achieve our 2020 goal.

Another example is the recycling of diaper waste: Pampers is the world’s first diaper brand to use new advanced technology to upcycle diaper waste to secondary raw materials for higher value applications. For example, recycled plastic is used for street benches, school desks and bottle tops, diverting waste away from landfill and enabling a new life-cycle for materials. Our first plant is operational in Italy, and can serve one million people. We started expanding to Netherlands and are considering other countries like India. Our goal is to scale up and expand this globally.

Last year, you also said you were excited by our theme this year – Redefining the Good Life – and the idea of ‘creating new aspirations for people to desire to live a better and more sustainable life.’ How is P&G working to address growing consumer preference for living ‘better’ vs living ‘bigger,’ and to bring more consumers around to this way of thinking?

P&G brands enable consumers to make more sustainable choices. We do that through innovation that makes sustainable living the most desirable option – like Tide PurClean, [which] has the cleaning performance of Tide, is 65 percent plant-based in a 100 percent recyclable bottle, and is manufactured with renewable electricity; or Cascade Platinum, which allows you to skip the pre-rinse of your dirty dishes and save up to 20 gallons of water with every load. The Home of the Future project we will show in our Good Homes Pavilion is all about living “better and greener” versus living bigger.

P&G is hosting the Good Homes pavilion in the Activation Hub in Detroit — what types of discussions/activities will be taking place/what can attendees expect throughout the week?

Attendees who visit P&G in the Good Homes pavilion will see how our brands bring sustainability into the home – specifically the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. We will have engaging activities that enable visitors to understand how our brands contribute to the good life and what P&G is doing to make sure that sustainability is baked into every aspect of our brands life cycle. We want to immerse our visitors into creative workshops over lunch to help them rethink the way they bring benefit and experience to their customers and users. It will also be an opportunity for them to learn from today’s leading brands how to drive business and sustainable lifestyle changes.

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