Colgate-Palmolive: A Sustainability & Circularity Pioneer

Colgate-Palmolive is using AI, robotics, solar power and recyclable toothpaste tubes to boost its ESG efforts, its 2023 sustainability report says

Consumer products company Colgate-Palmolive is using AI, robotics, solar power and recyclable toothpaste tubes as it ratchets up its sustainability efforts.

The company’s 2023 Sustainability Report outlines plenty of progress towards targets – including developments with its pioneering recycled toothpaste tube.

Chief Sustainability Officer Ann Tracy says: “We recognise the importance of scaling quickly, so we have shared our tube technology by holding over 80 sessions with third parties to encourage recyclability of all tubes in practice and at scale.

“We are also focused on working with recycling stakeholders and partnering with key third parties to drive tube acceptance. Our goal is to transition the remainder of our toothpaste portfolio to the recyclable tubes by 2025 globally.”

Ann Tracy, Chief Sustainability Officer at Colgate-Palmolive

ESG and DEI highlights from 2023

  • Colgate-Palmolive achieved 36 TRUE certifications for zero waste in 21 countries – more than any other company
  • Its Bright Smiles, Bright Futures programme, delivering oral health education, has reached 1.7 billion children and their families in 100+ countries since its 1991 launch
  • The recyclable toothpaste tube, launched in 2019, now covers 60% of Colgate-Palmolive’s global range and is available in more than 50 countries
  • The company launched Soupline Hearts Tablets in France and Belgium, made with 0% water, 72% less plastic versus liquids and 89% natural origin ingredients
  • It signed a virtual power purchase agreement for a solar farm near Waco, Texas, which is expected to produce 100% of the company’s US-based operational electricity needs.

Leading the way in waste reduction

In his welcome letter, Noel Wallace, President and CEO, says: “Colgate-Palmolive is leading in reducing waste from our operations. In the same way that we look to scale innovative new products or digital tools across our business, we have extended our zero waste reach to more sites each year.”

He adds: “Colgate-Palmolive was a pioneer in transforming toothpaste tubes by creating a first-of-its kind recyclable tube and the first to be recognised for meeting the technical requirements for compatibility with the recycling stream for high density polyethylene (HDPE), No. 2 plastic.

“What has helped make our innovation a game changer is that from the start, we have shared our technology with other companies to encourage their shift to recyclable tubes.”

Noel Wallace, President and CEO, Colgate-Palmolive

Smart technology

Colgate-Palmolive is using AI and robotics in the production of a new pet food factory in the US.

Ann says: “Our newest site in Tonganoxie, Kansas, is a smart factory producing pet food for Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

“Powered by AI and robotics while utilising digital processes and safety monitoring, Tonganoxie is on track to being LEED certified in 2024.”

Turning to renewable energy, Ann adds: “We also have an interim target to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2030. In 2023, we made great progress toward this target by entering into our first Virtual Purchase Power Agreement (VPPA).

“This VPPA is funding a solar energy farm in Texas, which upon completion, is expected to produce the equivalent of 100% of our US-based operational electricity needs.”

Targeting the supply chain

Noel explains that Colgate-Palmolive is also involved in work to eradicate commodity-driven deforestation from its supply chains.

He says: “We are part of a coalition of 21 companies, including many of the world’s major consumer goods companies and retailers, with shared goals to accelerate efforts to remove commodity-driven deforestation from our individual supply chains.

“It sets higher expectations for traders to act across their entire supply base, drive transformational change in key commodity landscapes and define measurable outcomes that all members agree to track and report individually and collectively.”

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