Len Sauers, Procter and Gamble: “Renewable energy is the way” for sustainable growth

Ilario D'Amato
11 December 2015

Len Sauers, Vice President, Global Product Stewardship & Sustainability at Procter & Gamble (P&G)

PARIS: While the world today is confronted with pressing concerns about climate change, water scarcity and waste, corporations “can play a very significant role to help address these issues,” says Len SauersVice PresidentGlobal Product Stewardship & Sustainability at Procter & Gamble (P&G), in The Climate Group’s latest exclusive Climate TV interview released during COP21 in Paris.

During Climate Week NYC, P&G joined RE100, the global campaign led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP to engage, support and showcase influential businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity.

The manufacturing giant firm recently announced an ambitious goal to reduce its absolute greenhouse gases emissions by 30% in 2020 with 2010 as baseline, and that will happen “even if our business will grow by many tens of billions of dollars,” underlines Len Sauers in the interview.

Procter & Gamble was among the first companies to focus on energy efficiency and conservation, saving as much as US$350 million over the past five years. But now, “the long-hanging fruit has been picked,” says Len Sauers, “and it’s becoming harder and harder to reduce emissions just based on conservation. “Now, the next step-change comes from switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy. And that’s why we’re putting so much emphasis on the drive to renewable energy.”


The company strategy has been to make all its work in the sustainability field an opportunity to build its business, with the ultimate goal to make this growth responsible by uncoupling it from emissions, he explains. “Renewable energy is the way to do that,” says Len Sauers, and on switching from fossil fuels to renewables outlines: "I still see great business opportunity in that.

“With all that’s happening today around governments coming together talking about reducing emissions, there’s an uncertainty into the future about what types of policies may pass to curb fossil fuel based emissions. A company that is driving toward renewables, that has that flexibility and nimbleness between these two sources, would be better positioned to handle that uncertainty.”


Procter & Gamble is investing heavily in renewable energy. Last March, the company announced the development of an up to 50-megawatt biomass plant in Albany, Georgia, that will help run one of its largest manufacturing facilities in the US.

The plant will provide 100% of the steam, and up to 60-70% of the total energy used by the company’s facility nearby.

“This facility makes tissue products, and it is probably one of our most energy-intensive facilities,” explains Len Sauers. “We’re moving that to 100% renewable electricity: that single project will give us [globally] 7% renewable energy.”


The key to build this sustainable growth is trough partnerships: the biomass development in Georgia “is only happening because we’ve been able to form partnerships that are helping to drive scale,” says Len Sauers. “That’s going to be the key to the future, it’s being able to drive that scale through partnerships.

“By joining RE100, we are finding the resources and expertise that can help us. It also helps us link to like-minded companies, from which we can partner with and create the scale.”

Going 100% renewable and curbing emissions has proven an excellent business case for Procter & Gamble. “We had goals we’ve set over the years, and they’ve largely been what we wanted to do,” concludes Len Sauers. “As we move to a science-based goal, the 30%, that’s a goal based on what we should do. So, I think the key message to corporations it’s historically you did what you wanted to do, now you should be doing what you should do.”

You can watch more of our exclusive video interviews with climate leaders and experts by following the hashtag #ClimateTV on social media.

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