At Colgate-Palmolive, we’re on a mission to create a healthy and sustainable future. Achieving that future means overcoming the challenge of climate change and its threat to disrupt every aspect of our lives -- from food supply to sociopolitical stability.

By Vance Merolla, Worldwide Director, Global Sustainability
June 2020

At Colgate-Palmolive, we’re on a mission to create a healthy and sustainable future. Achieving that future means overcoming the challenge of climate change and its threat to disrupt every aspect of our lives -- from food supply to sociopolitical stability.

We’ve made concerted efforts and considerable progress in reducing our carbon footprint since 2002. But scientists say we must all go faster and do more. And so we are.

Accelerating Action on Climate Change is a core ambition of Colgate’s recently announced 2025 Sustainability Strategy.

We aim to reach net zero carbon emissions across our growing business. Our goals align with the Science-Based Targets initiative, our signing of the Business Ambition for 1.5℃ and our commitment to Recover Better, working in concert with the UN Global Compact and others.

How will we get there? By reducing CO2 emissions across every aspect of our value chain. Let’s dig in...

Engaging Suppliers

The sourcing and transportation of our ingredients and packaging account for about 9% of Colgate’s total carbon footprint. So we’re working directly with our suppliers to encourage them to assess their climate and water risks, improve energy efficiency and increase their use of renewable energy.

Our science-based target? Reduce greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions from purchased goods and services by 30% per metric ton of product by 2025 vs. 2018 levels.

Optimizing Our Operations

We have the most control over our own global operations. Though they contribute just 1% to our total carbon footprint, we’re continuing to encourage every Colgate factory, warehouse and office to do their share. Our core targets:

    Improving Product Design & Influencing Consumer Behavior

    Our most dramatic opportunity to impact climate change  -- accounting for 90% of our total carbon footprint -- is in how we design our products and how consumers act when using them. Our target? Avoid 10 million metric tons of carbon emissions associated with consumer use of our products over 10 years [2016-2025].

    Reimagining packaging is key. By 2025, we will eliminate one-third of our use of new plastic and will make all packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable. For example, in Europe, we’re replacing Palmolive personal care PET bottles with post-consumer-recycled PE bottles that are recyclable, offering a lifetime carbon impact that’s 30% lower than virgin plastic.

    Another major initiative is Colgate’s “Save Water” consumer awareness campaign. Many people don’t make the connection between water use and carbon emissions. However, water and wastewater treatment systems are energy-intensive, so every drop of water saved means less energy used. Since launching in 2016, “Save Water” has helped consumers avoid an estimated 99 billion gallons of water and 5.5 million metric tons of GHG emissions, proving that individual actions can lead to massive impacts.

    Building Climate Resilience

    As we accelerate our actions to reduce CO2 emissions across our value chain, Colgate teams are building climate resilience into how we do business across the globe. With an eye on both mitigation and adaptation, we seek to understand and address the risks and impacts of climate change.

    We’re mitigating risk by reducing CO2 emissions, using more renewable energy and engaging our suppliers. Through these actions, we’re also mitigating reputational risks associated with investor, NGO and consumer expectations. Additionally, we see significant opportunity with a sharpening focus on building adaptation to protect against climate change impacts, and there is much more work to be done.

    Collaborating with Stakeholders

    What’s it going to take to speed progress and win the race against climate change? Collaborative action across the board. No one company can or should go it alone.

    Colgate is proud to be contributing to and learning from the collective intelligence of our partners in sustainability. Retail customer initiatives like Walmart’s Project Gigaton, NGOs like the World Resources Institute and CDP, coalitions like the U.S. Green Building Council, governmental programs like the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR and CPG-industry groups like The Consumer Goods Forum are all accelerating progress on a global scale.

    Working together, we can and must turn the tide on climate change, ensuring that our kids, ALL kids, will enjoy a healthy future. One worth smiling about.

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