Last night the New York CSR Meetup got together for another of its regular monthly meetings - April CSR Social. We met at Honey, a lounge bar with interesting history, great fondues and own sustainability plans in Chelsea/West Village.
Because of interesting trends in corporate sustainability area, we chose to discuss the progress and, particularly, the challenges companies face in their efforts to develop, manufacture and sell greener products. We used the case of Procter & Gamble as example of a company known to do a good job and tried to answer some of the questions raised by Mallen Baker's "Procter & Gamble - how far does the sustainable product revolution go?".
In 2007, P&G announced a sales target for "sustainable innovation products" of $20 billion by 2012. P&G’s net sales in 2008 were $83 billion, including $2 billion of sales of such eco-products. The way P&G decided to achieve this target was primarily through the compaction of liquid laundry ingredients. More concentrated formulas mean smaller quantities need to be used to achieve the same results, less transportation required to ship the product to the point of sale, and less energy and water embedded in the product. Only products launched since July 2007 and having more than ten percent reduction in one or more inputs (energy; water; transportation; raw material) qualified under the company's target as eco-products.
Our group agreed that, although the actual environmental impact of the $2 billion sales target is rather small, it is however important that a global company voluntarily set a goal like this. P&G sets an example of companies harboring a wholistic approach of their environmental impact and attempt to reduce it. In addition to Mallen's questions, our group identified an additional set of issues:
1.Packaging is an important aspect that is often neglected. Being able to pump eco-detergent into washing machines does not sound like such a crazy idea. Ikea is known for great progress in reducing packaging.
2. Cleaning the manufacturing processes is more important than ever as this MIT study suggests.
3. Consumer education is key in achieving sustainability targets. In case of P&G products, people might buy compactified laundry detergents or cold-water detergents but still use if as regular products.
All in all, we had a great CSR Social. Thank you everyone for participating! And if you, too, want to express your opinion, network and socialize within the New York CSR community, please join us here to be informed about our next events.