We recognise that business has an impact on the environment. As such, we have an obligation to play a part in conserving the planet’s precious natural resources and in safeguarding the environment for future generations as well as ensuring that we limit any negative impact on the lives of those in our communities and our customers. We measure and disclose various data in respect of our environmental performance including carbon emissions, water usage and landfill waste and we are committed to future disclosure of information relating to our use of plastic across the business.
We recognise the need for us all to do something about the proliferation of plastic packaging, particularly single use packaging, in all parts of the world.
Like most businesses in our sector, we use plastic across all of our categories and we understand the responsibility which we have – to our consumers and our local communities – to play our part in providing a solution to this issue. We also recognise that, increasingly, consumer choices and habits are driven by environmental and social concerns and that our brands can and must respond to this and have “social purpose” at their core if they are to thrive in the future. Proactively addressing the issue of plastic pollution makes the business more resilient in relation to actions which government, NGOs or our customers may take in the future.
As we have reported previously, we have been reducing plastic across the whole Group for many years. Over the past twelve months we have taken the opportunity to step up our efforts and to drive a genuine transformation of our approach to plastic.
- Reduce the amount of plastic we use by 25%
- Ensure 100% of any remaining plastic we use is reusable, recyclable or compostable
- Use at least 30% recycled materials in all our plastic packaging
Our Plastic Promise builds on the significant work we have already undertaken to reduce plastic in our products. Through light-weighting bottles and introducing refills, over recent years we have reduced plastic in our business by hundreds of tonnes across Europe and the Americas and Asia Pacific. We are now redoubling our efforts to reduce our use of plastic by identifying more projects to optimise structural and material design to eliminate unnecessary packaging materials, as well as looking at more innovative ways of delivering our products without relying on plastic.
Whilst our Plastic Promise is driving change across all brands and categories, we are prioritising those areas within the business where our current use of plastic is the greatest. We are also seeking out opportunities to deliver additional product benefits to consumers by providing new packaging solutions, creating a closer bond with consumers by acting on an issue which is clearly of real concern to them. In this way, we can make a positive impact on our environment but also reduce cost and protect and enhance brand equity. Identifying and addressing these “sweet spots” is an example of how our G4B approach, in which we seek to understand and align the interest of all our stakeholders, is creating shared value for all.
Brands like Carex in the UK are already driving significant reductions in plastic and driving fundamental changes in consumer behaviour in our category. Sales of our refill pouches – enabling consumers to reuse their current bottles – are growing by over 240% year on year, reflecting consumers’ clear wish to reduce plastic in their households. Our 500ml refill reduces plastic by 75%, while our 1L refill uses 80% less plastic – driving our refill business resulted in a reduction of 4.2m pumps last year.
Looking forward, this year we are focused on ensuring that our bottles are fully recyclable. This will help us achieve our commitment that any remaining plastic in our business is either reusable, recyclable or compostable. We are also launching bottles containing 30% post-consumer recycled material, in line with our global target.
Our detailed road maps for UK brands like Carex enable us to drive the Plastic Promise more quickly across other markets including in those countries where the level of consumer or customer concern is not currently as heightened but which we believe will inevitably follow. Additional priority areas for us include:
- Our Cussons Baby business in Indonesia
- Plastic containers used in our PZ Wilmar business in Nigeria
- Our wipes business
- Our Beauty brands
Our Plastic Promise is also driving innovation across our categories as we explore ways in which we might deliver our products to consumers without using any plastic. Our teams have identified novel packaging solutions and potential new products which we will be trialling this year. Again, they will allow us to significantly reduce our plastic footprint, while also opening up new commercial opportunities for us and further developing our relationship with consumers and customers
Water, carbon and waste
We care about how our business may impact the environment, from the way we manufacture products and bring them to market to the way in which consumers use them. We are focused on a programme of constant improvement within our global operations and committed to yearly reductions in our water and carbon consumption and waste generated.
26% absolute reduction year on year
The Group operates in a number of environments which experience water scarcity. It is also an important component of many of our products and of many of our manufacturing processes. In the circumstances, water conservation has been a key G4B environmental focus for the Group for some years and we have reduced consumption by millions of tonnes of water over that period. As part of our continuous improvement program, water reduction objectives are incorporated into the operational plans of every factory in Group. Principally, this is achieved though detailed mapping of water usage, focused improvements in operating methods and targeted investment in water saving technologies.
In this way, we have been able to reduce our global consumption by around a quarter this year – both in absolute terms and calculated per tonne of production. This follows on from annual reductions of 7%, 16% and 34% which we have achieved over the last three years.
Our factory in Aba, in the East of Nigeria, has again led the way in finding innovative solutions. Previously, a borehole pump had to operate continuously to service the domestic demand of our residential compound. The installation of elevated water storage tanks this year has enabled us to turn off the pumps at the weekend.
We have also been able to reduce water consumption at our UK Head Office by 63% year on year by a combination of new equipment and changes in working practice.
12% absolute reduction year on year
All of our factories also incorporate energy reduction objectives into their operational plans, mapping and identifying energy intensive processes and implementing reduction projects through our continuous improvement programme. Reducing the amount of energy which we expend obviously reduces carbon emissions but also reduces our running costs. This is particularly important at more energy intensive factories such as those at Aba and Tangerang in Indonesia and we have completed detailed energy audits at those sites during the year to provide medium term road maps for energy reduction going forward.
Our Agecroft and Aviator Way sites in the UK have been using 100% renewable power since June 2018.
Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)
The Group has been a participant in the Carbon Disclosure Project for over ten years, currently reporting our Scope 1 and 2 emissions. The CDP is an internationally renowned not-for-profit organisation which provides an independent global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information.
This year, we were graded B- by the CDP, indicating effective management of our environmental impact – our best score since we commenced participation.
8% increase year on year
The total amount of landfill waste generated by the Group has gone up this year. This is principally because of our Nigerian palm oil joint venture, PZ Wilmar, whose production volumes for the business have increased by around 9%. This, in combination with a change in the mix of sourced oils, has resulted in an increase in landfill waste per tonne of production of 18%. We are urgently seeking to identify alternative non-landfill disposal routes.Excluding the PZ Wilmar joint venture, the Group performance has been very positive. Waste per tonne of production has decreased by 13% year on year, building on reductions of around 75% over the last two years.
One focus this year, particularly at our Thai soap factory and at Aba, is on wrapper waste. This requires underlying improvements in supplier quality and our own manufacturing techniques but results in both reduced environmental impact and cost benefits to the business.
In Indonesia we have worked to improve our waste segregation so that a greater proportion of factory waste is being recycled rather than landfilled.
We have ensured that our UK head office practices what it preaches. During the year, as we launched our Plastic Promise, we also introduced full waste segregation initiatives to eliminate waste from our offices and maximise recycling of tins, plastic and glass.
PZ is committed to conducting all our activities in accordance with high standard of business conduct.
We have a number of policies and procedures in place that sets out specific steps that businesses within the group must take to ensure we are compliant with these standards.