After a productive two days at the CGF Sustainable Retail Summit in mid-October, I really believe that together, through the power of partnerships, we have all it takes to grow responsibly. I’m proud that I work for P&G as we embrace our environmental duty to lead with innovation in the area of sustainability, and that we’re committed to making a difference as we strive for a Green Recovery, and beyond.

At the 2020 Sustainable Retail Summit, we focused our conversations on valuable partnerships to drive critical progress. I’d like to take the opportunity to reflect on the Summit through two lenses: 1. Responsible consumption based on science, and 2. Actively joining forces with other partners across the value chain, sharing with you my key takeaways and ultimately my optimism for the future.

Responsible consumption based on science. It is the role of big brands and Companies to elevate the importance of science and make it accessible to consumers. At SRS the message was clear: now more than ever, P&G and others are acting as a force for good, embracing advancements in data and technology to achieve the scale and speed needed to accelerate big change, specifically in the areas of climate neutrality & responsible consumption.

For P&G specifically, reducing the impact we have in scope 1&2 is a major effort to which we are committed, but it is also just one piece of the puzzle. To alleviate the environmental impacts at the ‘in-use’ stage of the product lifecycle, we must continue to educate and influence responsible consumer behaviour through behaviour change programs such as ‘Turn to 30’, promoting sustainable washing at 30 degrees.

But it goes beyond educating consumers, which was another key talking point at SRS 2020. It is equally important that we innovate to produce products that deliver a reduced scope in-use. For example, our detergents have been designed to give brilliant cleaning results in these low energy conditions. At SRS, gaining insight into how other Companies innovate, and how our industry is making critical sustainable advancements to local infrastructure & products with speed, gives me clear hope for the future.

Actively joining forces with other partners across the value chain. At P&G, we believe in combining forces to drive change, which was a highlight of the 2020 Summit. Numerous examples of projects with retailers across the globe shows this can be done, and this instils within me the belief that we are moving in the right direction. We help consumers to recycle products when they are not always readily recyclable.

One recent example of an impactful partnership is the “Second Life of Plastic” project, a successful collaboration between P&G with Magnit and its more than 20,000 stores in Russia. What’s interesting here is that Magnit’s beginnings can actually be traced back to a partnership with P&G, and today, 26 years later, we’re joining our forces again to launch the largest project for installation of reverse vending machines for collecting plastic waste, which is intended to help establish the culture of responsible consumption among Russian customers. I am certain that our future lies with such joint projects, since they provide scale, attract attention, give food for thought, and drive responsible consumption. 

Another key partnership for impact is HolyGrail 2.0. In partnership with AIM, we are calling for retailers to join us in a packaging recycling revolution that was not thought possible a few years ago. HolyGrail 2.0 is a collaborative effort designed to solve one of the largest obstacles facing packaging recycling – inefficient sorting at recycling facilities. Only if we advance HolyGrail 2.0 together with retailers and recyclers and partners across the value chain, implement it and prove is can be scaled up, will society ever see the tremendous benefits of this innovative technology.

In this defining decade for our planet, we know it has never been more important work together and strengthen our ability to conserve, protect and even renew our natural environment. I’m excited to continue this work across the industry, prioritising science, technology, innovation & purposeful partnerships – and elevating progress through discussion and virtual collaboration at forums such as the Sustainable Retail Summit.

This blog was authored and contributed by:

Rob Manhoudt

Vice-President, Corporate Market Strategy & Planning, Europe,