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Breakthroughs XIX

Science News from P&G Beauty & Grooming VOL. XIX


Steady, careful and measured progress is key to P&G Beauty & Grooming's success in developing environmentally-responsible and socio-economically sustainable prod­ucts and processes. With over 1,800 scien­tists and technical employees working at 16 technical centers around the world, the company has adopted a scientific approach to ensure that its global supply of beauty and grooming products is effective for the consumer and respon­sible for the planet.

"This is not just about sticking a solar panel on a roof and calling it a day," says Bob Vashon, Principal Scientist at P&G Beauty & Grooming. "I've spent 30 years working at P&G with teams of experts to study sustainability. We've learned a lot, but there's still more to figure out."

P&G has been committed to improving the sustainability of its products and processes since the 1970s. Through years of rigorous study, P&G has learned that in order to truly embrace sustainable practices, the company must employ a three-legged approach. Each of these three legs--environmental protection, economic development and social responsibility--play a key role in developing sustainable products and processes.

Keeping all three areas in mind, P&G Beauty & Grooming employs scientific principles to make sustainability a part of every initiative. By conducting a scientific Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists have adopted a systematic way to understand and assess the environmental impact of consumer products.

Life Cycle Assessment allows scientists to take a “snapshot” of the entire life cycle of a product to systematically assess the impact of each step.

Life Cycle Assessment allows scientists to take a "snapshot" of the entire life cycle of a product to systematically assess the impact of each step.

LCA is an analytical, computer modeling tool that allows scientists to account for many variables, spanning from the time a product is created until the moment the empty container is discarded. The analysis begins as early as the mining and harvest of raw materials and takes into account manufacturing methods, delivery of the product and final disposal of the packaging. It even includes the end point of consumer use, ranging from the water a man uses to rinse his razor to the bath run-off from a woman washing her hair.

"P&G delights millions of consumers around the world with products that often include natural ingredients," says Vashon.

"We spend a lot of time making sure that each product is sustainable throughout its life cycle. This includes protecting the local eco-systems and economies where these natural materials are found."

P&G believes that being one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world comes with the responsibility of carefully implementing processes like LCA. As a big company, P&G is able to use its broad portfolio of brands to make significant improvements to the overall life cycle of many products. "We study the life cycles of all our brands very carefully," notes Vashon, "because consumer products should improve the quality of all our lives."

Strategically using LCA and other assessment techniques, P&G has systematically increased the amount of recyclable materials used in consumer products since 2006.

Strategically using LCA and other assessment techniques, P&G has systematically increased the amount of recyclable materials used in consumer products since 2006.



While most companies have an incentive to minimize waste in order to be cost-effective, P&G is proud to report that it uses over 96 percent of the raw materials it buys. Despite this achievement, the company realizes the importance of ensuring that whatever waste occurs is safe for the environment.


Long before a P&G Beauty & Grooming product is released, scientists anticipate where this waste material will go and how it will impact the environment. To conduct these studies, P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists utilize Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) science to determine the expected environmental concentration and potential toxicity of chemicals that will be released.

The goal is to ensure that the concentra­tion of any product ingredient enter­ing the environment is significantly lower than the concentration that could be potentially harmful to people or surrounding ecosystems.

"Advanced ERA testing is performed on many fronts before a product is released to the public," says Bob Vashon, Principal Scientist at P&G Beauty & Grooming.

Ingredients entering sewers, landfills and soil must be capable of biodegradation, the natural breakdown and renewal of organic materials. P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists use laboratory tests and simula­tions to determine the biodegradability of product ingredients. These tests, such as the Ready Biodegradability Test and the 2008 OECD Wastewater Simulator Test series, were originally developed by P&G experts and are now widely used by com­panies and governments across the globe.

P&G developed a flushability lab in 1993 to determine each product's effect on toilets, drain lines, sewage pumps and septic tanks, as well as its compatibility with European, North American and Asian infrastructures.

Globally, P&G Beauty & Grooming and its partners collect vast amounts of data on the effects of ingredients used in consumer products. Compiled data are used to model and predict the chemical concen­trations in rivers, soil and air. This allows the safety of a proposed product to be assessed in detail--at the local, national, and worldwide scale--prior to its launch. However, the ERA process does not end when a product is placed on the market; scientists worldwide continue to monitor the environment to confirm the outcome of the risk assessment.

"We are careful to consider all the envi­ronmental implications of our products," says Vashon. "This process is crucial to meeting our end goal of safe, sustainable beauty and grooming products."

P&G environmental toxicologists study algae growth at an experimental stream facility to determine the health of the ecosystem when exposed to waste materials.

P&G environmental toxicologists study algae growth at an experimental stream facility to determine the health of the ecosystem when exposed to waste materials.



P&G Beauty & Grooming is significantly reducing the environmental impact of Gillette® razor packaging through inno­vative package design, breakthrough printing technologies and an emphasis on transitioning toward more eco-friendly materials.


Scientists at P&G Beauty & Groom­ing are using new printing technologies to eliminate the Fusion® razor plastic branding banners. This innovation is projected to reduce plastic use by more than 300 tons per year, the equiva­lent weight of 60 elephants.

After rigorous study, P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists decided to switch the Gillette Club packaging from a solid plastic case to a combination of cardboard and plastic. Their calculations found that the change will reduce plastic content by 65 percent per pack, or 1.1 million pounds per year. Through these and other modifications, P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists are ­work­ing to continuously improve the impact on the environment.

Packaging innovations are implemented at the P&G Gillette plant in South Boston.

Packaging innovations are implemented at the P&G Gillette plant in South Bosto


More sustainable packaging always looks less attractive.

MYTH: P&G Beauty & Grooming scientists strive to develop and implement innovative technologies, such as novel printing techniques and material substi­tutions, which allow these changes to be ‘invisible.' As a result, consumers don't need to make any trade-offs between enjoying the beautiful packaging they want, and making a more sustainable choice for the environment.

Updating your electric razor can save electricity.

FACT: As an innovator in male grooming technology, P&G Beauty & Grooming continues to improve its environmental impact. For example, Braun's® Smart Plugs use 64 percent less energy than standard shavers, almost twice the Energy Star certification average. In fact, Braun is the first shaver manufacturer to receive full Energy Star certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.


For more than ten years, Safeguard® has collaborated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Pakistan and China to conduct pivotal health research on the simple act of hand washing.


The results show that by simply encouraging hand washing with soap, the incidence of diarrhea and respiratory disease, the lead­ing killers of children under five years of age in developing countries, can be reduced by 45-50 percent. These program outcomes and trends were published in the June 2, 2004, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association and the July 16, 2005, issue of The Lancet.

To translate these pivotal findings into public health initiatives, Safeguard conducts an annual hygiene education program for more than 10 million primary school students across 35,000 schools in China, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Safeguarding the World's Children

The Safeguard program also continues to facilitate information-sharing through a variety of venues including the International Health & Hygiene Symposia (IHHS). The IHHS, which were sponsored by Safeguard in 2002 and 2006, are a forum offering attendees an opportunity to share research and education programs from their countries that compli­ment Safeguard's work. The next IHHS meeting, to be held in Beijing, China, in August 2009, is currently being planned and will help build upon this knowledge.

Moving forward, Safeguard intends to continue its role as a leader in hygiene research and education for developing countries by sponsoring additional initiatives such as Global Handwashing Day.


Bob Vashon, Principal Scientist

Bob Vashon

Within P&G Beauty & Grooming and beyond, Bob Vashon, PhD, is a coveted author­ity in the fields of bio­degradation and risk assessments.

After earning a doctorate in microbiol­ogy from Cornell University, Dr. Vashon began his career at P&G by developing a method for predicting the biodegra­dation of chemicals in marine systems and estuaries.

He later worked with P&G's envi­ronmental public policy group in Washington, D.C., to help strengthen the government's requirements for con­ducting peer-reviewed risk assessments before issuing policies.

Currently, Dr. Vashon is focused on assessing the environmental impact posed by ingredients found in personal care products. Based on his expertise, he was invited to present a paper and con­duct a seminar at the 2005 Water Envi­ronment Federation's Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference, the largest conference of its kind, to teach others in the industry to conduct meaningful and cost-effective risk assessments.


Always Improving

P&G Beauty & Grooming has long recognized that the journey to sustainability is an ongoing, constantly evolving effort. While P&G Beauty & Grooming has already implemented several successful sustainable initiatives, the company continues to strive for improvement.

In the area of environmental responsibility, for example, P&G Beauty & Grooming has reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 36 percent, energy usage by 28 percent and water usage by 23 percent per production unit in the past six years. Building on this success, P&G Beauty & Grooming has set an even larger goal to achieve by 2012: an additional 10 percent reduction in each of these areas.

Looking ahead, P&G Beauty & Grooming continues its commitment to advancing sustainability efforts. By expanding successful internal initiatives and building partnerships with external experts, such as William McDonough's sustainability team, P&G Beauty & Grooming strives to improve the lives of everyone, now and for generations to come.




Global Handwashing Day  

Water Environment Federation's Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference


P&G Beauty & Grooming Science has more than 1,800 scientists and technical employees working at 16 technical centers with an unparalleled commitment to technology development. Company scientific efforts have resulted in over 10,000 patents. This allows P&G to develop products uniquely suited for different types of hair and skin, and tailored to different cultures and climates.

P&G Beauty & Grooming products help make beauty dreams real for women worldwide and help men look, feel and be their best every day. With more than 100 brands available in nearly 130 countries, P&G's beauty and grooming products delivered sales of nearly $28 billion in fiscal year 2007/08 , making it one of the world's largest beauty and grooming companies. P&G Beauty & Grooming offers trusted brands with leading technology to meet the full complement of beauty and grooming needs, including Pantene®, Olay®, Head & Shoulders®, Max Factor®, Cover Girl®, DDF®, Frederic Fekkai®, Wellaflex®, Rejoice®, Sebastian Professional®, Herbal Essences®, Koleston®, Clairol Professional®, Nice 'n Easy®, Venus®, Gillette®, SK-II®, Wella Professionals®, Braun® and a leading Prestige Fragrance division that spans from point of market entry consumers to high end luxury with global brands such as Hugo Boss®, Lacoste®, and Christina Aguilera®. (NYSE: PG)


To talk to a P&G Beauty & Grooming scientist or to learn more about ongoing research at P&G Beauty & Grooming Science, contact:

Heather Cunningham, North America - +1-513-626-2606

Sian Morris, Europe, Middle East and Africa - +44-1784-474776

Dr. Colin D'Silva, Asia and Australia - +65-6824-5383

Mauricio Graciano, Latin America - +52-55-57-24-25-51

Weining Wu, Greater China - +8620-8518-3184

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