Our 2020 Progress - Performance
Learn about the progress we’ve made on our 2020 Sustainability Performance Commitments.
Colgate delights people with innovative products that meet their needs, exceed their expectations and add value to their lives. Our six consumer innovation centers rely on local insights from around the world to launch new products and product updates every year.
Stronger people engagement begins with better insights. We are committed to listening to and engaging with existing and potential users and buyers around the world. To ensure that our commercial teams stay close to the users of our products, we engaged in virtual “Getting Out of the Office” (GOOTO) programs that help deepen our understanding of local tastes and habits across categories.
Amid our global response to COVID-19, our India insights team explored alternative methods to continue to engage and stay connected with the community. The GOOTO program consisted of virtual home visits, aimed at keeping us connected with people and listening to how these uncertain times were impacting their daily lives. One-on-one interactions took place virtually on a regular basis. Discussions ranged from parenting, work and finances to entertainment and shopping.
People are at the center of everything we do. Colgate’s Consumer Affairs teams act as consumer advocates, providing consumers’ perspectives, desires and concerns to the rest of the organization. Colgate’s marketing executives are able to hear consumer calls so they can get closer to what people want and need, and ensure company activities are designed to meet them. We have even set up a “listening post” in our research center; our scientists can “listen” to social media interactions in real time, enabling them to get closer to the people for whom they develop products.
Colgate’s Consumer Affairs teams manage consumer relations around the world. This team strives to provide the very best consumer care, so that it is easy for people to reach us, have their messages heard and problems solved.
We have state-of-the-art contact centers, where we optimize the latest service tools and training so every person contacting us has the very best individualized experience. In many parts of the world, people can now engage with us via the communication channels that are most accessible and convenient for them - whether via traditional methods, such as phone calls, or newer, real-time methods, such as social media, chat and mobile messaging. Our team regularly captures, evaluates, and responds to people who leave ratings and reviews on our websites and various e-commerce sites, so we can ensure we are always in touch with any feedback people have about our products. As artificial intelligence technology is rapidly developing, we are constantly looking for ways to leverage it to enhance and extend our support programs.
As COVID-19 began to spread, our Consumer Affairs teams were there for people - providing reassurance about our products, directing people to credible sources for information about the pandemic, helping them find the right products to clean themselves and their homes, and being a listening ear for them to express their concerns and questions. Our business continuity plans and state-of-the-art technology ensured that access to our front-line teams was minimally disrupted, and we transitioned quickly to remote working in affected areas, so we could do our part to keep our employees safe. We also shared consumers’ perspectives, wants and needs with the rest of the company so we could act quickly to address them, whether it was optimizing our supply chain to get more product out in the market, updating the information provided on our product labels, conducting testing on our product benefits and performance or developing new products to address emerging needs.
- Our Plaqless Pro Smart Electric Toothbrush features optic sensor technology that detects biofilm buildup so it can be removed while brushing. The technology provides precise information in real time that is specific to each mouth and the distinct brushing technique of every individual.
- This new generation of Protex is powered by a breakthrough technology -- discovered and developed in-house -- that incorporates flaxseed oil to boost your skin’s natural defenses, working in sync with your body. Protex with flaxseed oil still eliminates 99.9% of bacteria.
Product sustainability at Colgate means a continued commitment to safe, sustainable, high-quality products that consumers can trust. As part of our sustainability strategy, we are committed to increasing the sustainability profile in all new products. Consumers increasingly demand products that meet their needs, provide a positive social impact and have a reduced environmental footprint.
Driving Sustainability Through Our Categories
We are embedding sustainability across our Oral Care category. Our products and oral health education programs are designed to improve oral health around the world and help reduce cavities, one of the most chronic global diseases.
We also promote water conservation awareness to consumers, encouraging them to turn off the faucet when brushing their teeth. We are also making improvements in our Personal Care category, from improving ingredient biodegradability and moving toward more sustainable preservative systems to optimizing packaging size and improving packaging recyclability. We are educating millions of children and their families around the world about the importance of handwashing with soap, and are also working to reduce our carbon and water footprint.
In our Home Care category, we are increasing the use of recycled and recyclable plastics in our packaging and improving the ingredient sustainability profile of our products, including eliminating formaldehyde donors and reducing volatile organic compounds to improve air quality. We are also helping consumers save energy and water with our cleaning products.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition is working to improve packaging recyclability, reduce its operational footprint, and provide pet food to shelters at a discount to help millions of dogs and cats find their forever homes. Hill’s is also leading the way to Working Towards Zero Waste at Colgate. Our first four “Total Resource Use and Efficiency” Zero Waste certified factories were Hill’s factories. Today, 100% of our Hill’s factories are TRUE® Zero Waste certified.
Colgate’s Product Sustainability Scorecard is intended to measure the progress of our goals to increase the sustainability in our products by 2020. Our product sustainability key performance indicators are focused on three areas: Packaging, Formula and Social Impact. Through cross-functional collaboration across the Colgate world, we continue to make progress and 99 percent of new products in 2020 have improved sustainability profiles.(1)
(1) The performance results are based on representative products from the product portfolio (excluding our recently acquired EltaMD, Filorga, hello and PCA Skin businesses) evaluated against comparable Colgate products across three impact areas to characterize likely improvement in the sustainability profile, based on review of quantitative and qualitative data.
2020 Product Highlights
Product Safety and Quality
We continuously monitor and evaluate the safety of our ingredients, and we actively engage with outside experts and resources to understand emerging science and deepen our knowledge. We also comply with all aspects of the European Union’s REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemical substances). To learn more about the science behind our products, please visit the Scientific Excellence section of our website, our Ingredient Safety Policy and the Ingredient Safety section.
Product Safety Testing
Colgate has a longstanding policy to minimize and ultimately eliminate animal testing associated with development of oral care, personal care and home care products. Central to this commitment are our more than 35-year-long efforts to encourage the development of alternatives that are scientifically valid and can be accepted by scientific regulators.
We are a leader in promoting, encouraging and participating in the development, validation and acceptance of non-animal testing methods worldwide, investing more than $1 million dollars annually on research into non-animal alternatives. Globally, there are circumstances when regulatory agencies require animal testing of oral care, personal care and home care products. In such limited instances, the tests are conducted at external testing facilities that meet strict government standards and the rigorous requirements that were established by Colgate with input from animal welfare groups. The exception to this is regulatory agency mandated testing in China which must be conducted in government labs. Our global presence affords us a unique opportunity to help foster acceptance of non-animal alternatives by regulatory agencies around the world.
In addition, we support the European Partnership for Alternative to Animals, the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing and the Institute for In Vitro Science, which are organizations that are focused on developing and/or promoting the use of non-animal methods. We are looking for opportunities to expand and foster non-animal alternative testing research, and Colgate actively shares its work to reduce animal use and develop alternatives so that this information can help others minimize animal use. Colgate is also a strong supporter of education in this field and partners with the Society of Toxicology to provide grants for student internships, post-doctoral fellowships and research grants to further promote the field of alternatives to animal research.
Hill’s uses only non-invasive, humane research methods to develop superior nutritional technology so that dogs and cats live long, healthy lives. Importantly, Hill’s believes that any procedure that causes pain to people also causes pain to animals and therefore is not permitted. Hill’s does not create or simulate disease conditions in animals and does not conduct a study where euthanasia is the end point. Hill’s breakthroughs in pet nutrition are unmatched in the pet food industry, and it has built its business and reputation on always practicing the highest ethical standards. Hill’s publishes its animal welfare policy on its website, which governs all studies Hill’s conducts or supports.
For more information on our Product Safety Research Policy and other policies, visit our website.
We recognize consumers want to know more about the ingredients in the products they use. Colgate continues to be an active participant in SmartLabel™, a digital platform co-created by the Consumer Brands Association (formerly GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in conjunction with manufacturers and retailers to inform consumers about what is in their products and why. SmartLabel provides a wide range of product details that cannot fit on a package label. It goes beyond the label to tell consumers not just what ingredients are included in their products; it explains what those ingredients are, why they are in the product, and what they do. SmartLabel was designed to match how people use information and technology today. Thus, consumers can access SmartLabel at home and on-the-go while creating a shopping list on their phone or when making a purchase decision in the store.
In 2020, in the United Kingdom and in the United States, we continue to increase transparency in oral care, disclosing all ingredients per regulatory requirements, consumer friendly product descriptions and flavor components that are greater than or equal to 100ppm.
The Colgate brand is in more homes than any other, so we can and we will create a healthier, more sustainable future for all. As we reflect on our achievements against our 2015 to 2020 Sustainability Strategy, we are looking ahead to beginning our journey toward accomplishing our 2025 sustainability mission, with an action aimed at eliminating plastic waste.
Our 2025 packaging sustainability strategy focuses on sourcing packaging responsibly, delivering efficient and beneficial designs, advancing circular systems and inspiring positive behavior. To achieve this we will need unprecedented collaboration with a diversity of partners.
Colgate’s 2025 packaging sustainability strategy centers around the following actions:
- Eliminate unnecessary and problematic packaging
- Make all our packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable
- Reduce use of new (virgin) plastic by a third in packaging
- Use at least 25% post-consumer recycled plastic in packaging
- Minimize the volume and weight of packaging required to label and protect our products.
Information on our progress against our 2020 packaging goals follows, we are providing examples based on the country where we manufacture the products.
We continue working towards our commitment to exit PVC. As of year-end 2020, we have eliminated using PVC in 99.7 percent of our packaging by weight. In addition, we have developed plans to exit the remaining uses where there is a technical challenge related to product safety (containers). In 2020, we reduced our PVC use by 547 tons.
In 2020, we converted packaging out of PVC:
In Australia, we changed the pouch material of Fluffy/Cuddly pouches.
In Pakistan, we changed the sleeves of Max Dish Paste.
In India and Guatemala, we replaced PVC with PET in toothpaste blisters for individual packs.
In Mexico, we changed the liner of Palmolive Neutro Balance 450g.
Colgate’s targets regarding recyclability (including fiber, plastic, metal and glass) are:
All packaging recyclable in Personal Care, Home Care and Pet Nutrition by 2020
All packaging recyclable, reusable, or compostable for all categories by 2025
As of 2020, approximately 91 percent of packaging by weight is technically recyclable in our Personal Care, Home Care and Pet Nutrition categories. When Oral Care packaging (including for toothbrushes) is added, our packaging recyclability company-wide is 83 percent. This does not, however, include our recently acquired eltaMD, Filorga, hello and PCA Skin businesses, and co-packers.
Transition to monomaterial flexibles and recyclable dispensing systems are industry-wide challenges and we continue working to develop solutions. In addition, we continue the transition out of opaque PET bottles and the implementation of shrink sleeves with perforated tear tabs to direct consumers to remove the sleeve at end of use to improve bottle recycling.
In 2018, we joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s (EMF), New Plastics Economy initiative, reflecting our commitment to 100% recyclability of packaging across all of our product categories and our target to achieve 25% post-consumer recycled content in all plastic packaging by 2025. Annually, we report to the EMF on our plastic usage, the percentage of recyclable plastic packaging and the percentage of post consumer recycled content used in our packaging. Read more about our 2019 progress here.
In 2020, we replaced opaque colored PET in the following bottles:
In Brazil, Protex liquid hand soap 250ml moved to a HDPE white bottle and Ola 1L moved to clear PET.
In the U.S., Murphy's Oil Soap Squirt and Mop Wood Floor Cleaner 32oz moved to tinted green PET and Irish Spring 18oz body wash moved to coloured HDPE bottles.
In Mexico, Palmolive Optims shampoo 680, 700ml, 400ml, 200ml and 180ml moved to clear PET and Palmolive Hydra Natura body cream 400ml moved to HDPE white.
In Europe, Ajax cleaner 1, 1.25 and 1.5L moved from white and yellow colored PET to clear bottles with perforated shrink sleeves.
In Thailand, Palmolive Expertique Oil moved to clear PET & Serum moved to a HDPE colored bottle. In that same country, we also converted the Mouthwash Colgate Plax Gentle Care & Complete Care 250ml and 500ml bottles to clear PET with perforated shrink sleeves.
The following packaging design improvements made the following products technically recyclable:
In Guatemala, we converted the film used in Axion 115g disc dish bar to monomaterial film.
We included perforations in sleeves of Fabric Softener Cuddly 850ml and 1L in Australia, Suavitel 750ml, 800ml, 1.3L in Mexico and 850ml in Guatemala and Palmolive Combing Cream 150ml in Brazil.
We removed the plastic lamination from the fiber based cartons used for Protex and Palmolive bar soap in Mexico, Brazil and Thailand and we began the transition to paper wrapper in Turkey for bar soaps.
In Brazil, we also removed the plastic lamination from fiber based cartons used for Colgate Sensitive and Triple Action Xtra toothpaste.
To contribute to eliminating plastic waste, our 2025 goal is to reduce our use of new (virgin) plastics in packaging by one third versus our 2019 baseline. Achieving this target will require cross-functional collaboration and the development of alternative materials, establishing new reuse/refill models, innovative new product forms, reducing plastic weight and increasing the use of recycled content. A few recent examples are described below.
In France, Ploof by Ajax was launched offering recyclable packaging. Consumers buy one reusable spray bottle, fill it with water at home and plop in an effervescent tablet that transforms the liquid into an Ajax multipurpose cleaner. When they need more cleaner, they need only to buy more Ajax tablets, packed in paper sachets.
In the U.S., we have launched Tom’s of Maine Natural Strength deodorant in fiber-based packaging.
In the U.S., we have launched Swish by Colgate mouthwash in a recyclable aluminium bottle.
INCREASE RECYCLED CONTENT
Colgate’s end of 2020 goal was to increase recycled content in our packaging (all materials including fiber based, plastic, metal and glass) to 50 percent on average, and our 2025 goal focuses on increasing post-consumer recycled content for plastic to 25 percent.
Regarding our 2020 full-year consumption of recycled content in overall packaging, we averaged across the year at 49%, but the snapshot at the end of the year was 52 percent recycled content. Our 2020 full-year consumption of post-consumer recycled plastic in packaging was 10 percent.
As we continue to work to increase post-consumer recycled plastics, we will continue to increase recycled content in our overall packaging.
We increased recycled content in the corrugated boxes we use to ship our:
Home Care products in the U.S., Guatemala, Italy, Brazil, Greece and France
Personal Care products in the U.S., Italy, Brazil, Turkey and Thailand
Oral Care products in Poland, Brazil and Thailand
We increased recycled content in our toothpaste cartons across brands in Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, Poland, Thailand and Myanmar.
We implemented 100% recycled content in PET bottles in the following products:
Soupline Douceur d'Origine Fabric Softener Végétale 650 mL, 1L and 1.3L bottles in Europe
Palmolive Ultra Dish Liquid 8, 10, 17, 20, 32.5, 34, 40, 46 and 52oz bottles in the U.S.
Palmolive Liquid Hand Soap Refill 750ml, Palmolive Body Wash 250ml and 500ml, Palmolive Aquarium 300 and 500ml in Europe
Ajax 1, 1.25 and 1.5L cleaner bottles in Europe
Fabuloso and Ajax 500ml, 1L and 2L cleaner bottles in Colombia
Fabuloso 450ml, 900ml and 2L cleaner bottles in Guatemala
Colgate Smile for Good mouthwash 500ml bottle in Thailand
We increased recycled content in PET bottles in the following products:
We increased recycled content in our PET bottles from 0 to 39% in Shampoo Palmolive Optims 200ml, 400ml and 700ml bottles and Palmolive Caprice 200ml and 760ml bottles and we increased recycled content from 25 to 50% in Dish Liquid Axion 280ml, 400ml, 640, 750 and 900ml bottles and Cleaner Fabuloso 500ml, 22oz, 28oz, 1L, 48oz, 1.7L, 2L and 67oz bottles in Mexico.
We also implemented recycled content in HDPE bottles in the following products:
We went from 0 to 50% recycled content in Fabric Softener Suavitel Complete Fresh Spring 1L bottles in Colombia.
We moved from opaque PET bottles with 35% recycled content to HDPE bottles with 50% recycled content for Body Wash Irish Spring 18oz in Mexico.
MINIMIZE WEIGHT AND VOLUME
Colgate strives to use the minimum amount of packaging required to label and protect our products. We recognize the importance of reducing waste at every stage of the product life-cycle, including at the end-of-use of our products and packaging. Read more on our programs to collect packaging waste and our commitment to work with stakeholders to drive continuous improvement in local recycling systems in Reducing Consumer Waste.
In the U.S., we worked to optimise the packaging for the Speed Stick Deodorant for Men, this allowed us to reduce our plastic consumption by 920 tons on an annual basis.
In Europe, we moved Cleaner Ajax 1, 1.25 and 1.5L to a new bottle that allowed us to include recycled content and to reduce 390 tons of plastic on an annual basis.
In Mexico, we reduced the weight of the cap used in Fabric Softener Suavitel 450ml, which reduced our plastic consumption by 72 tons.
In China and Thailand, we were able to reduce 430 tons of the fiber-based packaging used for special packs of Colgate toothpaste.
- Colgate’s first-of-its-kind recyclable toothpaste tube, first launched with Tom’s of Maine in the U.S. in November 2019, has so far been introduced in five divisions under the Colgate brand. We are making significant progress in our efforts to transform the toothpaste category and, so far, have shared our tube technology through at least 40 sessions with the packaging industry, NGOs and other consumer product companies. Tubes are one of the largest categories of plastic packaging that until now could not be recycled. Colgate engineers created a new plastic laminate tube using high density polyethylene (HDPE), the same plastic used to make bottles. By transforming sheets of this rigid plastic into a soft, squeezable tube that can be recycled along with plastic bottles, we are making the tube a part of the circular economy within the existing recycling infrastructure. Our tube is the first tube to be recognized by the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) in North America and RecyClass in Europe.
- This “reverse vending machine” offers Tenda Atacado shoppers in Brazil a convenient place to insert recyclable material and receive benefits like coupons, discounts to their electric bills, cash back or the option to donate to NGOs. It’s also an attractive promotional vehicle for Colgate Natural Extracts toothpaste, now packaged in our first-of-its kind recyclable tubes which are accepted by the machine.
In Colombia, we partnered with Ecobot, implementing similar “reverse vending machines,” encouraging consumers to deposit their empty recyclable bottles and flexible packaging, and receive a ticket with a cash discount on their next Colgate-Palmolive product purchase.
We have been recognized by the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) as one of the companies that increased use of post-consumer recycled content contributing to their Recycling Demand Champions program. For more information, please review this link.
We are members of the U.S. Plastics Pact, a collaborative effort led by The Recycling Partnership and World Wildlife Fund, part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact network. The U.S. Plastics Pact brings together businesses, government entities, NGOs, researchers and other stakeholders who work collectively toward a common vision of a circular economy for plastics, as outlined by the Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Initiative. This vision aims to ensure that plastics never become waste by eliminating the plastics we do not need, innovating to ensure that the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable or compostable, and circulating all the plastic items we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment.
We are encouraged by the progress we have made and the fast start we are off to, but creating a sustainable and circular economy is a journey, and our collective work towards our 2020 goals showed us the effort and impact required to transform our portfolio of products. We cannot do it alone, and are proud of the partnerships that have evolved through our strategy work.
Product sustainability at Colgate also means a commitment to providing affordable product options in our portfolio. Our goal is to expand access to affordable health and wellness products for millions of people in underserved communities. We make products more affordable while maintaining quality with smaller sizes, refill packages and value options. We distribute our products broadly to give more consumers access to our goods. Offerings are customized to best reach consumers within their socioeconomic level, available household income and specific consumer needs. We are also finding ways to offer the benefits of more premium products at affordable price points.
Globally, we strategically balance Colgate’s portfolio between base and premium tiers as appropriate for the particular region. This starts with consumer panels and research that gives us an in-depth understanding of the local market. Many people around the world do not have access to basic dental care and education. As a leading provider of oral care products, Colgate has the unique ability to address this major social issue and to improve the oral health of families around the world.
Our team in Colombia turned to technology to find a better way to connect with smaller convenience stores in the cities, small towns and rural areas throughout the region. Teams based in Cali and Bogotá partnered with two innovative startups to introduce apps that provided a direct, seamless interface between manufacturers like Colgate and local shopkeepers enabling us to provide customized plans using powerful shopper data — improvements that will help us to reach 21,000 small stores owners.
Partnering with Customers
We partner with hundreds of thousands of retail stores to sell Colgate products around the world. Treating all retail customers with fairness and integrity is a priority. We engage our customers worldwide by sharing unique shopper insights, providing innovative in-store marketing communications and merchandising techniques, and developing and executing joint business planning initiatives. These activities ensure the right product assortment at each location and help to make shopping a consumer-friendly, enjoyable experience that drives increased sales for both Colgate and the retailer.
To ensure continued success, we track retailer satisfaction in 20 of Colgate’s largest subsidiaries every two years. The Company participates in a widely used industry standard syndicated survey run by the Advantage Group. The objective is to measure our customer engagement with the goal of strengthening our performance across key markets and building robust action plans based on the survey feedback.
Colgate also partners with key customers to advance our mutual sustainability goals. We often partner with retailers to engage consumers with programs, such as our Bright Smiles, Bright Futures oral health education program, Operation Smile and TerraCycle®.
Colgate continues to partner with eco-innovator TerraCycle® in five markets: the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and China. TerraCycle® recycles oral care packaging collected at schools, stores and other locations into new and affordable eco-friendly products. Through this global partnership, we actively engaged in recycling, helping us to divert waste to landfills. Participating locations are also able to raise funds for schools and charities of their choice as an incentive for recycling.