Procter & Gamble to Run Its Factories With Wind Power

Source: By RACHEL ABRAMS, New York Times • Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2015

Procter & Gamble products from the past are displayed in the company’s headquarters in Cincinnati. Credit Jessica Ebelhar/The New York Times 

Procter & Gamble has found a new source for making Tide detergent: wind.

The global consumer products giant is teaming up with EDF Renewable Energy to build a wind farm in Texas that it says will power all of its North American plants that manufacture home care and fabric products. Those facilities make some of the company’s best-known household items, including Tide, Febreze and Mr. Clean.

It is Procter & Gamble’s biggest foray into wind power, and is the latest in a burst of partnerships between major American corporations and renewable energy companies.

The initiative also represents an opportunity for P.&G. to garner good will with environmentally conscious consumers at a time when personal care companies are under more pressure than ever to respond to their concerns.

“More and more, we find a very large number — call it two-thirds of consumers — looking to make some kind of contribution in the space, and hopefully not making trade-offs in value or performance,” said Shailesh Jejurikar, president of P.&G.’s North American fabric care division.

Stephanie Phillips, center, wears a box bearing a Tampax label at a rally organized by Women’s Voices for the Earth outside Procter & Gamble’s corporate headquarters just before a shareholder meeting in Cincinnati last week Credit Jessica Ebelhar/The New York Times 

The wind farm, based in Cooke County, is meant to produce 370,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually — enough to power nearly 34,000 homes a year, according to data from the Energy Department. P.&G.’s North American fabric and home care facilities use about 300,000 megawatt-hours each year, according to Mr. Jejurikar.

“So we know that we’re going to be consuming less than what we’re putting into the grid,” he said.

Hewlett-Packard, Kaiser Permanente and Dow Chemical all announced plans this year to buy renewable energy. On Monday, the White House announced that 81 companies, including Procter & Gamble, had committed to the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, which includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Consumers have increasingly scrutinized consumer products companies for their use of chemicals and impact on the environment. In recent years, those concerns have gained traction, as manufacturers see the potential effects they can have on the bottom line.

One by one, consumer products companies have removed offending ingredients like microbeadsphthalates and parabens.

This month, the nonprofit group Women’s Voices for the Earth organized a protest outside P.&G.’s annual shareholder meeting in Cincinnati to demand more information about the company’s feminine care products. They had already won a meeting with Len J. Sauers, who oversees P.&G.’s product sustainability, later that day.

Procter & Gamble’s fabric and home care unit is its largest division by sales, and makes up nearly a quarter of its net earnings, according to the latest annual report. Its main manufacturing facilities are in Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Ohio.

The Cooke County plant is scheduled to be operational in December 2016, and is expected to help reduce P.&G.’s carbon emissions by 200,000 metric tons annually. EDF is funding the project, but P.&G. has signed a 12-year contract to buy power from the plant, Mr. Jejurikar said.

Over all, P.&G. has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2020.