PZ Cussons’ ambition to be B Corporation
Read time: 8 mins Added: 17/05/2023
PZ Cussons – one of the world’s largest branded consumer goods businesses, which includes the Carex, Original Source and Imperial Leather brands – has backed up its commitment to sustainability with third-party certification and ambitious targets. What’s more, the company has linked them to an innovative loan facility.
For many of us, sustainability is now an important consideration when we’re shopping. In response, many companies have begun to make environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues a key part of their brand message. But ‘saying’ and ‘doing’ are not the same thing – and the concept of greenwashing is a real concern for the public, regulators and companies alike.
We sat down with Sarah Pollard, and Jennifer Burrett, to talk about PZ Cussons’ challenging sustainability targets, such as certifying all business units as B Corp by 2026 and why it’s important that companies are held to account for their sustainability commitments.
Why does sustainability matter to PZ Cussons?
Sarah Pollard: Our business is building brands, and for more than 130 years, we have been creating products to delight, care for and nourish consumers. We’ve always strived to have a positive impact in all the communities where we operate, to uphold the highest standards and to do the right thing. However, as we continue to grow, we must ensure that we continue to be a force for positive change, and ensure sustainability remains at the core of our operations.
How has your approach to sustainability evolved?
Sarah Pollard: Our purpose is ‘For Everyone, For Life, For Good’. And in our FY22 Annual Report, we unveiled a new sustainability framework called ‘Better For All’ that aligns with this objective. The targets within this framework are designed to stretch us – so we can demonstrate real progress to our partners and stakeholders. For instance, we are aiming for net zero emissions by 2045, with carbon neutrality in operations by 2025.
We also committed to reducing our use of virgin plastics by a third by 2030, and ensuring all our packaging is 100% recyclable, refillable or compostable the same year. We’re also targeting a 30% reduction in water intensity by 2030 from a 2021 baseline.
Why is it important for PZ Cussons to become a B Corp?
Sarah Pollard: “We have taken the bold decision to commit to certifying all our business units as B Corps by 2026 as we believe that long-term, sustainable growth depends on continuing to benefit broader society and the communities in which we live and work.
Achieving B Corp certification proves that our business goes beyond product or service-level certification. Both retailers and customers increasingly look to purchase brands that have achieved this standard, and it is a high mark of trust for companies with proven sustainability credentials. Investors are also increasingly focusing on ESG measures, driven by a desire to invest sustainably and responsibly.”
How is PZ Cussons ensuring that sustainability is embedded into the organisation?
Sarah Pollard: “We believe that embedding our boldest sustainability targets – achieving B Corp certification and reducing virgin plastic packaging and carbon emissions – into our financing structures demonstrates our commitment. So that’s exactly what we tasked our banks with doing.”
How did Lloyds Bank help PZ Cussons achieve its ambitions?
Jennifer Burrett: “PZ Cussons were refinancing their existing facility and specifically, wanted to embed their ambitious targets to this facility. So, as Sole ESG coordinator, we worked with the company to create their sustainability-linked loan (SLL) proposal.
PZ Cussons is the first company that we have worked with to include a B Corp certification KPI for an SLL. We prepared the Sustainability Lender presentation for the syndicate alongside the company, and then liaised with the banks to answer any queries. We then helped to translate the SLL proposal into the loan documentation.”
What does the sustainability-linked loan mean for PZ Cussons?
Sarah Pollard: “The proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes and to fund opportunities as we move to the next phase of our journey – moving from turnaround to transformation. But the SLL is also an important signal about the direction the company is taking. We have already made a lot of progress and our ‘Better For All’ framework is more ambitious still. But this is just the start of a journey for PZ Cussons; we intend to build on our ESG targets and continue to evolve our strategy.”