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 more than 600 new products and product updates every year.
To ensure that the products we develop are placed in stores, Colgate is 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 undertake “Getting Out of the Office” programs that help deepen our understanding of local tastes and habits across categories.
Our oral care team in the Philippines enlisted a popular social media celebrity, Joyce Pring, to promote the Colgate Total relaunch. The influential “vlogger” visited our Global Technology Center in China to learn first hand from our scientists how the formula is made and what makes it so effective. She documented her trip in a vlog and shared several posts on social media about her experience.
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 consumers’ wants and needs, 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 consumers to reach us, have their messages heard and problems solved.
We have state-of-the-art contact centers, where we optimize the latest consumer 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.
In addition, we regularly monitor key performance indicators for service around the world. In 2019, over three-quarters of consumers reported being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with our service.
- Colgate has innovated with exciting developments in connected oral health. This technology enables consumers to use their mobile devices while caring for their teeth, providing real-time feedback on their brushing behaviors, leading to improved oral health routines. We have partnered with Apple on their research kit initiative, which leverages the anonymized data we collect to improve oral health outcomes. We are also working with dental professionals to enable them to use these platforms to provide more customized care for their patients.
- In Nigeria, Colgate entered into a strategic joint venture with Tolaram Group Inc. to bring innovative oral care, personal care and home care products to Nigerian consumers. The joint venture strengthens Colgate’s presence in Africa’s largest economy and expects to leverage Tolaram’s significant local manufacturing presence, marketing expertise and distribution strength with Colgate’s product formulations and R&D capabilities.
- Our Asia Pacific Consumer Innovation Center co-innovated with Alibaba, China’s leading e-commerce company, to develop “Bursting Beads,” a new oral care product line in just six months. The product features a toothpaste and a mini toothbrush targeting young male consumers. We used a bold new testing tool to iterate on prototypes -- getting results back from our target audience in just three hours. The products are available exclusively on Tmall (a business-to-consumer online retailer operated in China by Alibaba.)
- C-P Spain launched the Sanex brand’s first-ever equity campaign for Skin Health Month. The campaign included engaging in-store events tailored to the retail environment, a contest on social media to connect with consumers on an emotional level about skin care and promotions to elevate the brand’s distinctiveness.
- Beginning in 2019, Tom’s of Maine became a ‘Certified B Corporation,’ with the non-profit B Lab, making the company part of an elite group of businesses that meet higher levels of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. Tom’s of Maine is one of a select number of natural personal care companies to become a Certified B Corporation. Through this accreditation, Tom’s of Maine publicly commits to upholding a purpose-driven business that creates benefits for all stakeholders.
Product sustainability at Colgate means a continued commitment to safe, sustainable, high-quality products that consumers can trust. As part of our 2020 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. We are working to meet those expectations by:
Driving Sustainability Through Our Product Categories
We continue to implement product category sustainability strategies that align with and support our 2020 Sustainability Strategy.
Improving the Product Sustainability Profile of Our Products
Teams across the Colgate world collaborate to develop products with improved sustainability profiles. Opportunities to improve product sustainability are considered throughout the product development process by multiple functions (from formulation to packaging). Annually, we apply the criteria in our product sustainability scorecard to the new products we plan to launch.
Delivering Safe and Sustainable Ingredients
Colgate remains committed not only to making safe products, but also to making those products with ingredients and processes that have minimal impact on the world around us.
Providing Access to Affordable Products
We continue to expand access to affordable health and wellness products for millions of people in underserved communities.
Driving Sustainability Through Our Categories
Colgate is embedding sustainability across our Oral Care category. Our products and oral health education programs 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 improving the ingredient sustainability profile of our products, removing PVC from packaging and reducing the environmental footprint of all our factories.
Colgate is 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, Colgate is 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 source its ingredients responsibly, 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 TRUE Zero Waste certified factories were Hill’s factories. Today, 100% of all Hill’s dry pet food is produced at one of our TRUE Zero Waste certified plants.
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 2019 have improved sustainability profiles.(1)
(1) The performance results are based on representative products from the product portfolio 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.
2019 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 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. We work closely with worldwide regulatory agencies to examine how non-animal tests can be incorporated into their safety requirements for consumer products.
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. 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 longer, healthier 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.
We look forward to the day when all necessary safety studies for oral care, personal care and home care products can be performed without the use of animals. We will continue our unwavering efforts toward the development, validation and scientific and regulatory acceptance of alternative non-animal methods of product safety research, while remaining steadfast in our commitment to the highest standards of product safety for our consumers. For more information on our Product Safety Research Policy and other policies, visit our website.
Our business is subject to extensive legal and regulatory requirements in the U.S. and abroad. Such legal and regulatory requirements apply to most aspects of our products, including their development, ingredients, manufacture, packaging, labeling, storage, transportation, distribution, export, import, advertising, sales and environmental impact. U.S. federal authorities, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”), the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency, regulate different aspects of our business, along with parallel authorities at the state and local levels and comparable authorities overseas.
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’s 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 2019, we completed adding all categories in the U.S. to the SmartLabel platform.
Colgate participates in SmartLabel in the U.S. and Canada. The program continues to grow and today 64 companies, 945 brands, and approximately 74,000 products participate in this program.
Colgate’s packaging organization regularly evaluates materials, processes, and delivery systems that can improve the sustainability profile of our packages. Colgate’s packaging sustainability strategy centers around the following actions:
- Minimizing the volume and weight of packaging required to label and protect our products
- Designing products for recyclability while ensuring product integrity
- Increasing use of recycled content
- Expanding refill package systems in product categories where feasible
- Evaluating new materials and sources
- Assessing the human health and environmental impact of our packaging
- Collaborating to inspire, incentivize, and educate people on recycled content and recyclability
- Supporting innovative efforts to improve local recycling systems
Information on our work to exit polyvinyl chloride (PVC), improve recyclability, increase recycled content and minimize weight and volume of packaging follows.
We continue working towards our commitment to exit PVC by 2020. Currently, we have eliminated using PVC in 99.5 percent of our packaging by weight. In addition, we have developed plans to exit the remaining uses of PVC in blisters, shrink sleeves, labels, bottles and pouches. In 2019, we reduced our PVC use by 2,250 tons.
In 2019, we converted packaging out of PVC:
In Brazil, our Protex liquid hand soap 250ml & 1L tamper evident seals and Palmolive Combing Cream labels.
In Malaysia, Colombia and Guatemala, we changed Axion Dish Paste labels. In Malaysia, the Softlan refill 2L label was also replaced.
Colombia and Thailand worked to change sleeves / shrink wrap used for special packs:
- Speed Stick deodorant in Colombia
- Care, Protex Talcum and Palmolive in Thailand
We have replaced PVC with PET in toothbrush blisters for individual and special packs globally.
Colgate’s goals are to achieve:
- All packaging recyclable in Personal Care, Home Care, and Pet Nutrition by 2020
- All packaging recyclable, refillable or compostable for all categories by 2025
As of year-end 2019, approximately 88 percent of our packaging by weight is technically recyclable in Personal Care, Home Care and Pet Nutrition. When Oral Care packaging is added, our packaging recyclability company-wide is 81 percent. This does not, however, include our recently acquired skin health and oral care businesses, PCA Skin, eltaMD, Filorga and hello.
We continue the transition from opaque to clear PET bottles, redesigning multi-material film packaging, and improving recyclability of dispensing systems.
We continue the implementation of shrink sleeves with perforated tear tabs, and we direct consumers to remove the sleeve at end of use to improve bottle recycling. We continue to focus on deploying our breakthrough innovation in new shrink sleeve technology and pressure-sensitive label systems that are preferred by recycling facilities.
The following are examples of how Colgate People successfully replaced colored PET with more recyclable packaging:
In Australia, Ajax Spray 500ml and 750ml bottles moved to clear PET.
In Mexico, Ajax Ammonia bottles moved to clear PET.
In the U.S., Irish Spring 32oz bottles moved to HDPE bottles.
In Greece and France, Soupline Fabric Softener bottles moved to clear PET bottles.
In Turkey, Palmolive, Protex and Haci Sakir liquid hand soap and Palmolive Men body wash moved to HDPE bottles.
The following packaging design improvements made the following products technically recyclable:
In Pakistan, we converted the film used in Max Laundry bar to monomaterial film.
In the U.S., we replaced the shrink sleeve in Softsoap Foaming hand soap and Softsoap body wash with pressure sensitive labels.
In the U.S., we converted Speed Stick deodorant containers from mixed resins to an all polypropylene container.
We launched a first-of-its-kind recyclable toothpaste tube, the first oral or personal care tube to be recognized by the Association of Plastic Recyclers. The recyclable toothpaste tube debuted under the Tom’s of Maine brand in the United States and the Colgate Smile for Good brand in Europe. Read more.
INCREASE RECYCLED CONTENT
Colgate’s 2020 goal is to increase recycled content in our packaging to 50 percent on average, and our 2025 goal focuses on increasing recycled content for plastic to 25 percent. As of year-end 2019, approximately 45 percent of our packaging materials are from recycled sources. We have worked in 2019 to procure resources to meet our 2020 goals.
Palmolive Dish Eco Respect is Colgate’s first bottle using 100% post-consumer recycled PET in Europe. Hypoallergenic, biodegradable formula free from fragrance and dyes; effective usage in cold water; EU ‘Ecolabel Certified’ seal on-pack.
Palmolive Eco Dish Liquid launched in Australia and New Zealand using 100% post-consumer recycled PET bottles, biodegradable formula, no added dyes. Palmolive Ultra and Ajax Spray n’ Wipe also moved to 100% post-consumer recycled PET bottles
In Guatemala, Fabuloso and Azistin
gallon bottles moved from 25%
to 50% post-consumer recycled PET.
In Colombia, Fabuloso 500ml bottles moved from 25% to 100% post-consumer recycled PET.
In Mexico, Axion 280ml, 400ml, 640ml, 750ml & 900ml bottles moved from 0% to 25% post-consumer recycled PET.
In the U.S., Tom’s of Maine launched 16oz mouthwash with 100% post-consumer recycled PET.
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 Italy, we eliminated a carton pad that was included as tertiary packaging for Palmolive 250ml and 500ml bottles, and a shrink film that was used for Palmolive Shampoo reducing 43 tons of fiber packaging and 17 tons of plastic used on an annual basis. We also reduced the amount of adhesive needed to close cases across different products, reducing an additional 15 tons of plastic.
In Colombia, we worked to reduce the height of the 200ml and 400ml stand up pouches reducing plastic consumption.
In France, we launched a new Soupline Concentrated 800ml bottle, replacing the previous 1.2L bottle. The new format reduced plastic consumption by 170 tons on an annual basis.
In Colombia, we reduced eight tons of plastic from Colgate Triple Action and Anticavity Toothpaste tubes.
In China, we reduced fiber based packaging by 3.5 tons with projects in Colgate Kayu Sugi and Travel Kit.
In Mexico, we reduced the weight of the cap used in Suavitel 450ml saving 72 metric tons of plastic per year.
In Malaysia, we improved the fiber based packaging used for Axion Dish Paste 350g and 750g, Softlan Fabric Conditioner 1, 2 and 3L and Softlan 2L refill reducing 40 tons of fiber based packaging considering annual volumes. An improved bottle weight of Softlan Ultra 1L and Refill 2L led to a plastic reduction of 16 tons.
In Europe, we worked to reduce packaging in products sold in Italy and won the competition “Bando CONAI per la Prevenzione – Valorizzare la sostenibilità ambientale degli imballaggi” sponsored by the Italian Environmental Minister and organized by CONAI. The projects that reduced packaging weight in finished goods and contributed to the award were:
The redesign of Palmolive Foaming hand soap packaging, 250ml bottle, reduced 9 tons of plastic and 17 tons of fiber based packaging on an annual basis.
A redesign of the Softlan Fine Fabric Liquid Detergent packaging, allowed us to reduce 86 tons of plastic and 36 tons of fiber based packaging on an annual basis.
- We are committed to making recycling easier for Colgate consumers! In addition to design changes and increasing our on-pack labeling, we have launched a searchable database to help Colgate consumers find the best ways to recycle our packaging and products in the United States. We hope to expand this resource to other geographies in the future.
- In Australia we partnered with TerraCycle® in the country’s first recycling program for electric toothbrushes, which have traditionally been hard to recycle. As part of the innovative program, consumers can recycle any brand of electric toothbrush handles or bases at no cost. TerraCycle® will separate the parts and transform the plastic into recycled products such as garden beds and park benches. Read more about the Electric Toothbrush Recycling Program here.
- Colgate worked with The Recycling Partnership to found the new Pathway to Circularity initiative. The Pathway to Circularity starts with a stage-gate process to determine needed steps for a package to realize true recyclability. The Pathway to Circularity will outline, address, and successfully navigate current and future packaging and recycling system challenges that limit the recycling of packaging materials today to make progress toward circularity. The initial funding has not only created this stage-gate process, but also launches an industry council to gain the consensus needed to realize measurable change throughout the packaging industry. Read the media coverage here.
- With Hill’s as a Founding Member, we also helped kick off the Recycling Partnership’s Film and Flexibles Taskforce, to help solve the ongoing challenges of recyclability for flexible packaging.
- Tom’s of Maine announced a new toothbrush with a handle made from 80% post-consumer recycled plastic. The soft, BPA-free bristles are colored with food-grade, mineral-based pigments and the toothbrush is recyclable through Tom's collection program with partner TerraCycle. Read the press release here.
- Colgate-Palmolive participated in the first Ocean Plastics Leadership Summit, an effort to mobilize organizations in the plastic value chain to showcase solutions, highlight new initiatives that can address pressing challenges facing our oceans, and inspire partnerships, joint ventures, and R&D initiatives. Read more.
- As a Member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), we continue to take part in EMF's New Plastics Economy initiative. Together with others, we are pushing for unprecedented collaborative action in the field of sustainability, in particular towards eliminating plastic waste. As part of EMF’s Plastics Pact Network, Colgate joined the Portugal Plastics Pact.
Product sustainability at Colgate also means a commitment to providing affordable product options in our portfolio. We have a 2020 goal 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 Colgate 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.
In June 2019, we introduced a revolutionary new formula for cavity protection with the relaunch of India’s #1 toothpaste brand. The new Colgate Strong Teeth, now with “Amino Shakti,” is specially formulated to deliver the best ever cavity protection (compared to the previous formula), while maintaining the same great taste and experience of the old Colgate Strong Teeth. This new technology is now available for consumers at the lowest price point in certain markets, such as India, where dental access is a challenge, providing kids in rural markets with access to the best ever cavity protection.
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 partnership, in 2019, more than 54,000 locations were engaged in recycling, helping us to divert nearly 10 million pieces of waste from landfills. Participating locations are also able to raise funds for schools and charities of their choice as an incentive for recycling.
To engage consumers to recycle Colgate oral care packaging, in 2019, Colgate and TerraCycle® partnered with ShopRite, Meijer and CVS stores to run recycled playground giveaways. In-store displays drove awareness of the Colgate oral care recycling program and publicized the contests. At ShopRite and Meijer, schools competed to win a playground made from recycled toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes by getting votes for their community and recycling oral care waste. At CVS, shoppers were asked to recycle oral care waste to help win a recycled playground for a children's hospital in their state. To date, Colgate has made 23 donations consisting of recycled playgrounds, gardens and park furniture to communities in the United States.