CINCINNATI — The world's largest consumer product maker announced Monday that it has set ambitious long-term targets for cutting the waste it produces and improving its energy efficiency.
Procter & Gamble said it eventually will use only renewable energy to power its factories and only recycled or renewable materials to make and package its products.
The manufacturer of Pampers diapers, Gillette shavers and numerous other top-selling products says it will take decades to achieve these goals. But it has set 10-year targets and will provide updates each year.
Bob McDonald, P&G's chairman, president and CEO, said in an announcement webcast from Geneva that consumers applaud improvements to help the environment, and the new effort should help P&G's business, as well as the Earth.
"I think when you do the right thing ... the business just takes off," said McDonald.
He said 173-year-old P&G recognizes its long-term impacts.
"It does us no good to grow our business today at the expense of tomorrow," he said.
Environmental advocates have been pushing corporate giants to do more, especially because moves by P&G, retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and others can build momentum for sustainability by all kinds of businesses.
"We hope that P&G's leadership on these issues will spur other companies to do likewise," said Carter Roberts, CEO of World Wildlife Fund-U.S., which is working with P&G on the goals announced Monday.
Among P&G's targets for 2020 is having its factories get 30 percent of their power from renewable sources. P&G officials said new plants now being built around the globe will use more solar, wind and water power.
P&G also wants to make cold-water laundry twice as popular by 2020 through sales of products such as Tide Cold Water.
A sometimes-critic of P&G was pleased with the announcement.
"I think they're responding in a really positive way," said David Steinman, a consumer advocate on environmental health who has challenged P&G to make greener products.
Steinman said P&G's goals also are probably meant to respond to increasing competition from household products promoted as environmentally friendly and also provide the company a hedge against rising oil costs in the future.
P&G has recently unveiled several environmental and humanitarian programs.
It said last week at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York that it is expanding its global safe drinking water program by producing and distributing more of its Pur water-purifying packets. It also donates the packets to relief efforts in disaster areas, such as the effort to cope with recent flooding across Pakistan.
The company also plans use a renewable, sugarcane-derived plastic in packaging for some beauty products.
New marketing this year promotes some P&G products as "Future Friendly"; for instance, using Tide Cold Water can save energy and cut household water and energy bills. The marketing also promotes environmental education.
P&G has said its research shows there is strong interest among consumers in things with both environmental and economic benefits. Its own bottom line also benefits from reducing energy and other costs.