By Dieter Holger


Home goods giant Procter & Gamble is ramping up its eco-friendly packaging and products, but the company is also moving into green energy. Dow Jones Newswires interviewed James McCall, P&G's global product supply sustainability leader, at Schneider Electric's annual sustainability conference in Barcelona on Thursday to learn more about the company's clean-energy efforts, the challenges it faces and the lessons it has learned during its sustainability program. Below are some insights from the interview.


Focus Is on Green-Energy Goals in US

The U.S. is where P&G uses the greatest share of renewable energy and will likely see faster growth in green energy than other markets. The company is expanding renewable energy across all markets as it works toward 100% renewable electricity by 2030--but the U.S. is particularly important because it is the largest market for the consumer goods giant. "I would say the U.S. will expand quickly just because we have our largest footprint there. We focus where we can make the biggest impact," Mr. McCall says.


Technology Remains the Challenge to Green Energy

P&G is waiting for technology to catch up so that it can fully harness the power of green energy, This is the same challenge facing the whole of the manufacturing industry, but P&G still expects to hit its 2030 goal of using 100% renewable electricity, Mr. McCall says. "We look for ways we can move to green energy and also more cost-effective energy or more resilient energy at the same time," he says.


Climate Change Offers More Opportunity Than Risk

Climate change is presenting more opportunity than risk for P&G. This is because consumers are demanding products that are more eco-friendly and sustainable, which P&G is delivering to meet market demand, Mr. McCall says. "Our consumers, our retailers are clear that they want more sustainable products, more sustainable choices," he says.


Consumers, Company Culture Pressure P&G to Go Green

P&G is facing pressure from consumers and its own company culture to move into green energy. "Everything we do starts first the consumer and we work backwards from there," Mr. McCall says. Employees inside the company are also encouraging P&G to have more sustainable practices, he adds. "Whether we had the consumer demand or not, we feel like this is our responsibility," he says.


P&G Looks for Green Energy With Local Advantages

One of the lessons P&G has learned from its sustainability journey is to tailor renewable energy projects based on regional advantages. For instance, P&G uses geothermal energy in China because it's available there. In Albany, Georgia, where there's an abundance of waste organic material available to burn--such as tree limbs, pecan shells and peanut hulls--it uses a biomass facility to generate power.


P&G Urges Consumers to Go Green by Example

Companies can only successfully encourage people to lead more sustainable lifestyles if they are also walking the walk. For example, P&G is encouraging consumers to recycle its products and will also reach zero-waste to landfill from its manufacturing sites next year. "We need to have our own house in order to be able to have a meaningful conversation with consumers around their own footprint," Mr. McCall says.


Green Business is Smart Business, Says P&G

Making a company more environmentally-friendly meets consumer demand but it also makes smart financial sense. P&G has saved more than $2 billion since it launched its latest waste-reduction program in 2017, which is money the company can reinvest into other innovation projects, Mr. McCall says. "It's not just something we do for the consumers--we do it because it's smart business," he says.


Write to Dieter Holger at; @dieterholger


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 21, 2019 12:44 ET (16:44 GMT)

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