P&G brand Ariel targets completely decarbonised laundry value chain by 2030

Image: P&G

Announced today (11 March) at a live online briefing, the vision will see Ariel assessing its product formulas, packaging and the way it communicates with consumers in a bid to accelerate decarbonisation across its upstream and downstream value chain.

On the communications piece, life-cycle assessments carried out for Ariel products in Europe found that 60% of the environmental footprint of product occurs at the customer use phase – largely from the heating of the water.

Ariel has already worked, over time, to make products more effective at lower temperatures, and will continue to do so. At the same time, it will work on new short films, image-based advertisements and on-pack labels designed to encourage consumers to wash at lower temperatures. The campaign is called ‘every degree makes a difference’ and it is hoping to mobilise a 5C drop in average wash temperatures in Europe by 2025.

“Serving five billion people gives our brands the unique opportunity to promote conversations, influence attitudes and change behaviour,” P&G’s chief sustainability officer Virginie Helias said.

The majority of the remaining 40% of products’ environmental footprint is attributable to the manufacture of ingredients, final products and packaging. Ariel has said that it will analyse which ingredients have the highest CO2 footprint before outlining plans to source alternative materials and incorporate them in new formulations, without compromising on product performance.

While Ariel has not yet announced time-bound, numerical targets for reducing emissions at certain parts of the value chain, P&G’s overarching emissions aim is to reach carbon-neutral operations by 2030. It is in the process of working with the Science-Based Targets initiative to develop goals for Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, like those generated in the supply chain; through the transportation of products to retailers; and by customer product use.

P&G’s senior director of global climate and supply chain sustainability James McCall appeared on edie’s #SustyTalk series of videos last year to discuss, in more detail, the company’s climate plans in-house and its work on engaging consumers. You can view that interview in full here.

A material issue

Laundry and homecare products are a part of our daily routine here in the UK and, in developing nations, will play a crucial role in delivering shared ambitions on sanitation and public health. But they come with a climate impact; aside from the heating for the water needed to activate the products, most contain high proportions of chemicals made from fossil fuel stocks.

P&G’s approach, while it will require changes to ingredient sourcing, ultimately centres around consumer engagement, in keeping with its overarching vision to “make sustainability irresistible”, enabling behaviour change at scale.

Competitor Unilever, meanwhile, has pledged to replace 100% of the carbon derived from fossil fuels in its cleaning and laundry products with captured, natural and recycled carbon. It has estimated that achieving this target will reduce the life-cycle carbon footprint of products by an average of 20%.

Sarah George

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie