“We share the same ambitions to improve the environment”: P&G’s Pritchard speaks to sustainable impact of Olympic partnership

As the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference continues in Glasgow, Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G, discusses how the company works with partners like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to advance its sustainability goals.

Olympic podium Tokyo 2020 ©2021 Getty Images

Worldwide Olympic Partner P&G saw the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as an opportunity to use the world’s biggest sporting stage to promote environmental sustainability through its Podium Project.

In partnership with the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the initiative saw P&G collect 24.5 tons of recycled plastic – the equivalent of around 400,000 bottles of laundry detergent – to create the 98 medal podiums that were used for the Games.

As well as engaging the Japanese public with the Games, the programme provided an opportunity to educate people about responsible consumption and recycling.

Here, we speak with P&G’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard about the impact of the Podium Project and the importance of being able to work with partners such as the IOC on shared goals related to the environment.

Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G IOC

How does P&G work with the IOC to develop sustainability projects, like the initiatives for Tokyo 2020?

We begin by identifying shared areas of focus on our sustainability efforts. Preventing plastic waste from entering the oceans and inspiring responsible consumption are important to both P&G and the IOC, which provided the foundation for the Tokyo 2020 Podium Project. We then used our respective areas of expertise to establish project goals and guidelines, and identified partners to provide support and needed technical know-how. The Podium Project team worked with retailers, schools and offices throughout Japan to help coordinate the collection of plastic for the project. Terracycle, a company specialising in reusing, upcycling and recycling waste, was enrolled to design and produce the podiums.

Do you think the Olympic Games are a good platform to showcase your sustainability efforts?

As an Olympic sponsor, we have always been focused on supporting athletes and their families on the journey to achieve their Olympic dreams. One way we do this is by partnering to support the causes that athletes care about, including sustainability causes. Through the Podium Project we were able to engage the people of Japan to collect the plastic for the podiums, and we hope this project inspires people to take small actions in their everyday lives to help protect the planet.

What were your goals with the Podium Project?

Achieving a sustainable future is a journey and requires us all to work together. We hope telling athletes and fans about P&G’s efforts to improve sustainability – including the Podium Project – will help inspire them to get engaged in sustainability efforts and recognise that small, individual actions can lead to positive change.

How does aligning with the IOC and the Olympic Games help P&G accelerate its own sustainability targets?

The Olympic Games are the world’s largest sporting stage, and by putting sustainability front and centre for viewers during the Games we hope to inspire people to make a positive impact on the environment. P&G and its brands will continue to provide people with tools and information on how small actions at home can make a world of difference for the planet, including through thoughtful and innovative programmes with our partners like the IOC.

Do you see more brands aligning with sport under the banner of promoting sustainability?

Solving the climate crisis is something that cannot be solved by any single company or country alone. Because sport is a great unifier across all nations, it’s a pivotal opportunity to showcase actions for the environment. At P&G, environmental sustainability is embedded into how we do business. We think about it as being “built in” to how we operate, not “bolted on” as a separate activity. It is fully integrated into how we operate and build our brands, and that includes our sponsorships and partnerships. Solving the problems of climate change, water scarcity and waste requires collaboration, so we invite others to join us in helping to promote and accelerate sustainability.

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