Yale School of Management

Saving the Bottom Line and the Environment

Colloquium in Sustainability

What can shrinking a bottle of Tide teach executives about sustainability? That reducing your environmental footprint is not only good policy, but also good for the bottom line. At the EMBA program’s January 22 Colloquium in Sustainability, Terry Tamminen, former secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, discussed how companies have reviewed their own products to find ways that generate both a profit and an environmental benefit.

Tamminen told the story of how Walmart teamed up with Procter & Gamble to investigate whether some of P&G’s products could be made more efficiently.

“We’re talking about two giant companies working together to do something exponentially more sustainable in terms of the product that was being produced—but they did it because it was better for their overall bottom line,” Tamminen said.

After a review, the companies found that Tide—the country’s best-selling laundry detergent—could be made more concentrated and placed in smaller bottles, which would then generate a savings for Procter & Gamble in materials costs. That change also saved money for Walmart: with smaller bottles, the retail giant regained shelf space and spent less on shipping. It also generated another benefit for consumers: they didn’t have to carry large, heavy bottles of liquid and had less wasteful packaging to recycle when the container was empty.

“Sustainability initiatives sometimes come down to the lowest-hanging fruit,” Tamminen said. “That’s what’s really driving so much of sustainability today. There are enormous opportunities for companies out there: you just need to look for the things that make economic sense first.”

About the Event

Terry Tamminen, strategic advisor to the founding chair, R20 Region of Climate Action, will take part in a Colloquium in Sustainability on January 22.

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