A major Prosperity Partnership has been awarded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to a £5.6 million collaboration between Procter & Gamble, Durham University, and Imperial College to accelerate the development of improved and sustainable products. The project is one of eight business-led Prosperity Partnerships announced in support of the UK government’s ambitious innovation strategy.
People recognise that everyday responsible consumption is essential to solve some of the most complex global challenges across water scarcity, energy consumption and climate change, but they are not willing to compromise the performance of their household products for living sustainably.
P&G, Durham University and Imperial College will take on the challenge to develop new, breakthrough scientific tools revealing how to re-invent the performance of everyday products, such as laundry detergents and household cleaners, to address the complex environmental challenges. These tools will accelerate development of sustainable alternatives to current products and household tasks as part of P&G’s commitment to make sustainable choices easier for the five billion consumers it serves every day.
EPSRC is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. EPSRC’s Prosperity Partnerships are business-led research alliances between leading UK based businesses and their long-term university partners. Durham University and Imperial College are two of only a small group of P&G’s global strategic academic partners. Already significant, the Prosperity Partnership continues to expand the size, scale and scope of these relationships.
“This partnership will lead the cutting-edge science to enable P&G’s global product innovation strategy and delight consumers in a way that not only solves their needs and pain points but creates irresistibly superior experiences when they use them. The partnership builds on the North East UK innovation ecosystem and is in line with P&G’s Ambition 2030 environment sustainability framework which is ensuring we grow responsibly, make our business more resilient, and better serve consumer needs in a resource-constrained world.” Victor Aguilar, P&G Chief Research, Development and Innovation Officer
“Global sustainability challenges demand transformative solutions. This project will use our expert understanding of the science and engineering behind household cleaning products to create experimental and theoretical tools that can unlock new formulations to help consumers use less water and energy whilst still achieving excellent results – enabling them to be both clean, and green.” Principal Investigator Professor Mark Wilson of Durham University’s Department of Chemistry
This programme continues to boost P&G’s partnerships in North East UK for the region to become global leaders in creating sustainable products and solutions, building on the Advancing Circular Economy (ACE) R&D Demonstrator project part-funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority, that started in 20201.
“The partnership between Durham University and P&G is a fantastic example of the collaborative approach adopted in the North East around innovation. Our world-class academic institutions are working alongside the region’s business community to develop new products and services that will make a real difference to people’s lives; in this case helping the UK achieve its target of net zero by 2050. Investing in R&D to drive forward innovation will help our economy recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and at the same time support government’s levelling up agenda. Durham University and P&G are both leading innovation businesses in our region, and I hope the work they develop through their Prosperity Partnership inspires other businesses to lead their own innovation projects.” Alan Welby, Innovation Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership
Environmental sustainability has been embedded in how P&G does business for decades. Over the past 10 years P&G has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, reached zero manufacturing waste to landfill across all sites globally, purchased 100% renewable electricity in Europe, United States and Canada, and doubled the use of recycled resin in its plastic packaging.
P&G’s brands are committed to enable and inspire responsible consumption by 2030. Earlier this year, P&G’s leading brand Ariel announced its focus on decarbonising laundry across its entire value chain. Ariel is ensuring it can deliver a superior clean in colder water, whilst also using the brand’s voice to encourage small habit changes such as lowering wash temperatures. The brand is working towards establishing a sustainable supply chain with industry and suppliers, as well as partnering for innovation. As the first step, Ariel will roll out a pan-European campaign, “Every Degree Makes a Difference” in content partnership with National Geographic Creative Works, to demonstrate that through turning down our washing cycle temperature we can together reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The campaign seeks to achieve a five degree drop in average wash temperatures in Europe by 2025.
Globally, P&G’s sustainability Ambition 2030 goals include reducing manufacturing emissions by 50%, purchasing 100% renewable electricity, improving finished product transportation emissions efficiency by 50%, making 100% of packaging recyclable or reusable, and reducing virgin petroleum plastic packaging by 50%. Later this year, P&G will issue a climate transition action plan outlining the company’s plans toward the long-term objective of net zero emissions for scope 1,2, and elements of scope 3 emissions.