P&G targets net zero by 2040: ‘The task ahead of us is urgent’, says CEO

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Procter & Gamble will aim to slash all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its supply chain and operations by 2040 and will work hard to influence emissions at the consumer-use phase which account for 80+% [Getty Images]
Procter & Gamble will aim to slash all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its supply chain and operations by 2040 and will work hard to influence emissions at the consumer-use phase which account for 80+% [Getty Images]

Related tags Procter & gamble P&g net zero climate crisis Environment GHG emissions Renewable energy green beauty carbon emissions Carbon footprint

International personal care major Procter & Gamble (P&G) has published a climate transition plan outlining its ambition to be net zero on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2040 and signed up to Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge.

P&G published its ‘Climate Transition Action Plan’ outlining a series of interim 2030 goals to make “meaningful progress”​ towards its new ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its operations and supply chain – from raw material to retailer – by 2040.

All efforts would be measured using the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi)​ and aligned with recommendations from investor-led initiative Climate Action 100+ Net-Zero Company Benchmark.

On Monday, P&G also signed up to Amazon and Global Optimism’s The Climate Pledge alongside another 85 new signatories, cementing its net zero goal for 2040 ten years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Signatories to The Climate Pledge agree to: measure and report GHG emissions on a regular basis; implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement through real business changes and innovations; and neutralise any remaining emissions with additional, quantifiable, real, permanent, and socially beneficial offsets to achieve net zero annual carbon emissions by 2040.

Achieving net zero will require ‘transformative’ new tech

Between 2010 and 2020, P&G had already slashed absolute emissions across its global operations by 52% through energy efficiency and renewable electricity. By 2030, the company wanted to be purchasing 100% renewable energy; achieve a 50% upstream reduction on product freight emissions intensity; reduce supply chain emissions from priority categories by 40%; and use 100% recycled or reusable packaging across its entire portfolio.

Ahead of its 2040 net zero goal, the company said there would be plenty of transformative innovation needed.

“While no one has all of the answers on how to bring a net zero future into focus, we will not let uncertainty hold us back,”​ said Virginie Helias, chief sustainability officer at Procter & Gamble (P&G).

“To achieve these goals, we will leverage existing solutions and seek transformative new ones that are not available in the marketplace today. This will require partnership across the private, non-profit, and public sectors and involve every aspect of our business, from the very beginning of our products’ lifecycle to the very end,”​ Helias said.

Next-generation low-carbon technologies and materials being looked at included renewable thermal energy; materials derived from renewable, bio-based or recycled carbon; and ingredients made from captured CO2.

In the meantime, P&G said its “top priority”​ would be to reduce GHG emissions “as quickly as possible with solutions that exist today”.​ And for any residual emissions that could not be eliminated throughout the supply chain, it would use natural or technical solutions to remove or store carbon.

‘Transformative collaboration’ key, including consumers

David Taylor, chairman, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble (P&G), said the company would use “innovation and ingenuity”​ to unlock new ways of addressing climate change but also invest heavily in consumer engagement and cross-industry collaboration.

“The task ahead of us is urgent, difficult and much bigger than any single company or country. P&G is tackling these challenges head-on by reducing our footprint and leveraging our scale to foster unprecedented collaboration across our value chain,”​ Taylor said.

This, he said, included consumers and was why P&G’s ‘Climate Transition Action Plan’ aimed to partner with consumers to reduce GHG emissions generated during the use-phase of products. This would be achieved by providing consumers information on at-home actions and promoting more cold water washing across its household cleaning portfolio.

The consumer use-phase of P&G products – considered Scope 3 emissions as they were outside the direct control of the company – currently accounted for 83.3% of GHG emissions across its global network, with supply chain in behind at 8.5%; end of life at 4.7%; transportation at 2%; and operations 1.3%.

Moving forward, P&G said the challenge would be accurately measuring Scope 3 emissions, which in addition to consumer use-phase also included waste disposal and raw materials, transportation and distribution. To overcome this, is said it would work closely with its suppliers to explore how it could refine primary data estimates to improve Scope 3 life cycle assessments.

The personal care major said it would be “transparent in sharing both our successes and our setbacks”​ as it moved forward towards its net zero ambition.

In June, last year, fellow personal care major Unilever unveiled its goal to achieve net zero status by 2039​.

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