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How P&G is partnering to decarbonize your laundry

Sponsored: P&G Fabric Care’s Mohamed Ismail shares how decades of partnerships is helping to accelerate its mission towards decarbonizing laundry at every step of a product lifecycle.

Line of blue washing machines at a laundromat

Ariel and WWF Germany launched their partnership to raise awareness of lowering wash temperatures with a pop-up cold wash laundrette in Hamburg. Image courtesy of P&G.

This article is sponsored by Procter & Gamble.

The Paris Agreement and subsequent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports have left no doubt that global emissions must peak and decline significantly before 2030 if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change. This is a mammoth task, and one we must all partake in and cooperate on to achieve.

P&G is on a mission to decarbonize laundry at every step, from formulating the product to consumer in use. As part of this, our Fabric Care division is leading P&G in our commitment to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 65 percent, and Scope 3 emissions by 40 percent by 2030, with the ultimate target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from sourcing to shelf by 2040. But we can’t achieve these ambitions alone — partnership and collaboration across the value chain will be imperative. Here are learnings we have gathered over decades of forming and maintaining partnerships.

1. Partnering drives meaningful consumer behavioral change

Most of laundry’s carbon emissions are generated when consumers wash their clothes, primarily by the energy required to heat the water, according to Life Cycle Assessments conducted by our Tide and Ariel brands. These emissions fall into the category of Downstream Scope 3, which means we do not have direct control over them. Encouraging consumers to use colder wash cycles is a key component of our Climate Transition Action Plan.

Our approach to convincing consumers to wash in cold begins with the creation of effective products that clean impeccably in colder temperatures, which avoid the need for "compensating behaviors" such as pre-treating, pre-rinsing or rewashing. We also collaborate closely with appliance manufacturers to co-design low resource, cold and quick cycles and to ensure the benefits of cold washing are clearly communicated in the manuals for new machines.

But meaningful behavior change can only be achieved through increased consumer awareness and motivation. That’s why we’re aiming to initiate a global "cold wash movement," making cold wash the next broadly adopted eco-habit, in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund / World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Hanes and the National Football League (NFL), among others.

In the U.S., the Tide-WWF partnership has unlocked new insights into behavioral tipping points and the science of habit change, identifying an ecosystem of levers that must be pulled to drive behavior change in the laundry room. Tide also teamed up with a Canadian retailer to donate 50 cents from every Tide PODS pack sold at the participating retailer in April to help WWF-Canada fight climate change with nature-based solutions.

In Germany, Ariel and WWF have launched a three-year partnership with the common goal to decrease the average wash temperature in the country by 3 degrees over three years. Supported by scientific insights from the Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP) — a think and do tank specializing in behavioral approaches for sustainable lifestyles — we developed the campaign called #WirDrehenRunter (We Turn Down) to drive awareness and spark action towards colder washing. The campaign kicked off last autumn with a pop-up "cold wash launderette" in Hamburg.

As part of our NFL partnership, Tide convinced half of the teams to wash 1 million pounds of football kit for a year on cold settings, while inspiring 80 million households of NFL fans to join the cold movement and take the #TurnToCold challenge during the 2021 football season.

Tide also collaborated with Hanes, a leading apparel brand in the U.S., to add a "wash in cold" call-to-action on Hanes packaging along with samples and coupons for Tide PODS. Through these partnerships, we are exploring and activating pathways to maximize consumer engagement, promoting the benefits that cold water washing has on laundry’s carbon impact.

Snapshot from Tide's Cold Callers commercial

Tide North America’s “cold callers” TV advertising campaign, featuring Ice-T and Stone Cold. Image courtesy of Saatchi & Saatchi NY.

2. Unexpected partners push the limits of discovery

Pushing the limits of innovation through partnerships can accelerate sustainable solutions to climate change. Selecting the best possible people and organizations to work with is fundamental to achieving measurable impact. Finding and exploring partnerships with organizations that are outside of the ordinary can take you to new and unexpected places. In North America, for example, Tide has partnered with NASA through a Space Act Agreement. The mission is to develop laundry solutions and technology for use in space.

Through testing and studies under the Space Act Agreement as well as with the International Space Station National Laboratory, Tide will work with NASA to uncover ways to powerfully clean laundry in some of the most resource-constrained environments, at the orbiting lab and in deep space. The goal is to take those innovations and learnings and reapply them to develop products that address the resource and environmental challenges here on Earth. By finding efficiencies in energy and water across the laundry lifecycle, the partnership has helped and will continue to help us unlock creative ways to reduce the environmental impact of every wash.

3. Test and learn — partner to pilot new innovations

At P&G, we partner across our value chain to drive superior and circular packaging while reducing our reliance on plastics. We have committed to halving the amount of virgin petroleum plastic resin used in consumer packaging by 2030 and ensuring that all packaging will be designed to be recyclable or reusable. These ambitious targets led us to pilot alternatives for our liquid bottles.

In Europe, our Lenor brand is piloting paper bottle alternatives for its liquid fabric enhancer. In partnership with Paboco — the Paper Bottle Company — Lenor will conduct an in-market trial in the Netherlands of the first-generation paper bottles. The learnings gathered will offer vital insights into the functionality of a fiber-based bottle for liquid laundry products. A deeper understanding of how to overcome the challenge of waterproofing paper bottles is essential if we are to develop a bottle that can be launched at scale, with a fully recyclable structure that is compatible with at-home paper-waste recycling streams and has a reduced carbon footprint.

Partnership holds the key to some of our most cutting-edge innovations, whether that be unlocking a new idea, bringing a new concept to life or simply joining forces to tackle a challenge too big for any one organization to handle alone. All of these approaches are needed in abundance if we are to decarbonize laundry at every step, without compromise, to ultimately create a more sustainable future.

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