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Gian De Belder, Packaging Sustainability Technologist at Procter & Gamble talks to Naima Boutroy, Global Packaging Expert at Sidel about sustainability and why tackling environmental issues needs to be a collaborative effort.

What role does sustainability play at P&G?

Sustainability is a core part of our business and also of my role, as I identify and work on new-to-the-world rigid packaging sustainability projects. I am highly passionate about the topic and the work started already few years ago, when we introduced renewable resins into our shampoo bottles. During Earth Week in 2018 we announced Ambition 2030, our new program that focuses on the world’s most pressing environmental challenges: finite resources and growing consumption.

Ambition 2030 defines broad-reaching goals that have one purpose: to enable a positive impact on the world whilst creating value for consumers, partners and the company. We believe that our global reach, our understanding of the five billion consumers we serve and our innovation capabilities give us a unique ability to make a positive difference.


P&G is part of the Alliance To End Plastic Waste.
This alliance represents the most comprehensive effort to date to end plastic waste in the environment. As a founding member of this program, we are already heavily focused on ensuring no P&G packaging will find its way to the ocean. This is also a pillar of our Ambition 2030 strategy. Launched in January 2019, the Alliance To End Plastic Waste brings together over thirty companies and organisations from across the value chain, to advance solutions aimed at removing plastic waste from the environment, especially from the ocean.
By working together, we can bring new ideas and new ways of thinking to the table. The alliance has already committed to investing one billion USD over the next five years to develop and bring to scale solutions that will minimize and manage plastic waste as well as increase rate of PCR plastics in new bottles, to help enable a circular economy.
The Fairy Ocean plastic bottle has been big news in packaging and environmental terms. What makes this bottle so special?
The Fairy™ Ocean plastic bottle is a PET container made 100% of recycled material. It’s 10% ocean plastic, and 90% regular post-consumer resin and used to bottle our Fairy brand dish detergent. It’s been created in partnership with TerraCycle, Suez and Logoplaste and launched in the UK via 320,000 units: We believe this is the largest production of its kind in the world! As with other ocean plastic bottles in our portfolio (like Head & Shoulders), this is part of an awareness campaign targeting our consumers and designed to inspire them to recycle more.
At the same time as we launched the Fairy Ocean bottle, we also announced that globally all of our transparent dish detergent bottles would be using an average of 25% Post Consumer Recycled (PCR) resin, whichequals about 8000 tonnes per year of recycled PET. And note that in Europe we have been using PCR plastic in our dish detergent products for more than 10 consecutive years!
Do you see collaboration as the way to bring about greater sustainability?
Yes, for most of the current industry challenges, no single company can do it on its own, so it makes perfect sense to join forces. Over the last few years many new collaboration platforms have been initiated, such as the New Plastics Economy, Petcore Europe, Recyclass™ Platform (PRE), CEFLEX, Closed Loop Fund, Recycling Partnership - to name just a few, and they are all doing some great work in their specific fields!
As members of Petcore Europe, we’ve been recently involved in an initiative enabling increased recyclability of sleeved PET bottles. Full-body sleeves can cause problems when PET bottles are sorted using Near Infrared and optical detectors in recycling plants. I’ve been leading a working group which has come up with the solution of perforated, floatable sleeves with uniform consumer messaging that can be easily removed by consumers. We recently received a conditional approval for HPC (Household and Personal Care) from the European PET Bottle Platform (EPBP) for full-body sleeves for a period of three years. This approval is a great example of a cross-value chain approach, bringing manufacturers, recyclers and other associations together to improve the design-for-recycling of PET bottles.