P&G's 'green' initiatives only the tip of the iceberg

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT Procter & Gamble's plan to move toward sugarcane-based plastic packaging for some of its beauty brands marks the latest "green" movement by the company, and it is something the industry likely will see more of from manufacturers as the sustainable packaging industry is expected to see significant growth in the coming years.

(THE NEWS: P&G to roll out eco-friendly packaging for beauty brands. For the full story, click here)

Sugarcane-derived plastic is made from a renewable resource, unlike traditional plastic, which is made from non-renewable petroleum. The process transforms sugarcane into a high-density polyethylene plastic, a type commonly used for product packaging. It remains 100% recyclable in existing municipal recycling facilities.

This move is in line with P&G's announcement earlier this year on the expansion of its Future Friendly program, an educational platform designed to help educate consumers on how to use leading such P&G products as Tide, Pampers, PUR and Duracell, to achieve savings in water, waste and energy.

P&G deployed a full media platform and consumers began seeing Future Friendly-labeled products on store shelves in April. P&G's efforts are gaining a great deal attention and for good reason; consumers -- as well as many retailers, manufacturers, advocacy groups and world governments -- are placing a greater emphasis on environmentally responsible packaging.

According to market research and consulting firm Pike Research, the sustainable packaging sector is growing much faster than the overall packaging industry. In fact, eco-friendly packaging will nearly double in revenues between 2009 and 2014, from $88 billion to $170 billion. Furthermore, Pike Research suggests that plastic-based packaging will be the fastest growing segment of the sustainable packaging sector through 2014, and that eco-friendly plastic packaging will have "a huge impact."