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P&G faces shortage of recycled plastic in race to meet sustainability goals

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A worker at a Procter & Gamble factory carries a giant roll of paper used in the production of Charmin toilet paper, in Albany, Georgia, USA April 7, 2020. Procter & Gamble / Handout via REUTERS

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Dec. 3 (Reuters) – Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N) has ambitious goals to reduce its environmental impact by 2030, but getting recycled plastic for more sustainable packaging is a challenge, said the vice president of global corporate sustainability at the Reuters Next conference.

Global supply chain issues make it harder to obtain environmentally friendly packaging materials, Jack McAneny said on Friday, as the consumer goods giant scrambles to meet demands from a base increasingly environmentally conscious consumers.

“There is simply not enough recycled plastic available to meet the commitments that have been made not only by P&G, but also by our peers and the industry,” said McAneny.

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P&G, the maker of Gillette razors and Tide detergent, has pledged to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable and to reduce its use of virgin petroleum plastic by 50% by 2030.

Less than 10% of all plastic ever made has been recycled, largely because it is too expensive to collect and sort. Plastic production, meanwhile, is expected to double within 20 years, which industry critics see as the main driver of the planet’s waste problem.

McAneny said P&G is working with suppliers to increase production of recycled plastic and is developing new processing technology that can more easily recycle materials such as polypropylene.

McAneny said PureCycle Technologies (PCT.O), a start-up that licenses P & G’s polypropylene recycling process, could open up a wide range of uses for plastic waste that were not previously feasible.

“We have to make sure that these advanced recycling technologies actually deliver a net benefit,” McAneny said. “Whiz bang technology may not always be the right solution if it is to use more energy, create more waste. And this is where we have to be diligent.”

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission subpoenaed the CEO of PureCycle on September 30 to testify as part of a fact-finding investigation into the company’s technology and financial projections.

PureCycle previously announced its intention to cooperate but did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. It was not clear whether the SEC investigation would have an impact on P & G’s sustainability efforts. P&G said it looks forward to PureCycle being a supplier in the future.

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Uday Sampath report in Bangalore; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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