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R&D Heads From Major Companies Are Working Together to Realise Their Net-zero Emissions Goals

R&D Heads From Major Companies Are Working Together to Realise Their Net-zero Emissions Goals

Innovation leaders from seven global companies have joined forces to bring a technical and science-led footing to the realization of net-zero ambitions in an initiative led by Science Group Sustainability.

R&D and science and technology leadership from Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, and Mars as well as packaging specialist Amcor, Bayer’s crop science division, and chemicals firms Stepan Company and Solvay SA took part. 

The participants collaborated on the development of key principles to enable material progress in carbon reduction. They share the belief that the complexity of net-zero and other sustainability issues requires joined-up thinking between sectors, disciplines, and companies.

A member of the forum says: “Tackling climate change is a marathon, not a sprint, and, whilst net-zero goals and pledges may stretch beyond our personal tenure, we must own the problem. We need to reach significant milestones in the short-term and not trust that technological advances will ‘find a way in the long-term.”

The group met regularly over a 12-month period as part of a Science Group Sustainability CTO Forum. They analyzed challenges hindering carbon reduction and considered ways to resolve them. Together, they identified ten principles that will help companies as they journey towards net zero. These range from articulating carbon and other sustainability themes as distinct but related issues, to ensuring carbon impact is part of any conversation about innovation.

Another member of the forum says: “We can’t treat carbon reduction as an afterthought, it must be woven into the fabric of our innovation practices from origination through to execution. We must use it as a lever to think differently so that we find an opportunity to create irresistible experiences for our consumers whilst also reducing carbon.”

Science Group Sustainability has developed a Net Zero Playbook and published an abridged version outlining the strategies trialed by the seven participants. It demonstrates how the R&D function can evoke new ways of thinking and working that prioritize the reduction of carbon emissions. It includes a maturity model detailing and describing the ten principles that companies can embrace as they commit to, plan, and act on goals.   

Michael Zeitlyn, President of Advisory Services at Science Group Sustainability, says that while the specifics vary between companies and industry sectors, there are many common challenges and much can be learned from each other, not least the need for a joined-up effort both within the organization and across the supply chain.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is complex and brings immense technical challenges,” Zeitlyn explains. “Innovation has a vital role to play, but it can’t go far enough in isolation. We need to see strategic alignment across multiple business functions, from R&D and product stewardship to procurement and compliance departments. We are all on a journey to net zero, and it’s going to be tough, but we can achieve more when we work together,”

Science Group Sustainability is a cross-divisional entity set up by Science Group plc, the parent company of R&D consultancy Sagentia Innovation, Leatherhead Food Research, and regulatory consultancy TSG Consulting. Experts from different parts of the Group facilitated the CTO Forum’s sustainability discussions.