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P&G Partners with the National Science Foundation to Shift the Polymer Paradigm

MAY 2024

Polymers aren’t just a subject in chemistry – they’re all around us. Natural fibers like hair and bamboo and synthetic materials like rubber and plastic are all made (on the molecular level) of chains of polymers. Whether it’s waterless formulations, new packaging, or furthering research with recycling technologies. P&G R&D scientists have spent decades accelerating the discovery and manufacturing of sustainable polymers. And we’re not alone!

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is also working to tackle global challenges in plastic waste and polymer development. In fact, this year the NSF is partnering with industry leaders (like P&G) to launch a multimillion-dollar research funding opportunity aimed at exploring sustainable solutions that could change the way the CPG industry manufactures goods.

The NSF’s Sustainable Polymers Enabled by Emerging Data Analytics (SPEED) program encourages research communities to harness emerging data tools, such as AI and machine learning, to develop more sustainable polymers. The SPEED program also aims to develop the ideal workforce to support the incorporation of these techniques, supporting about 400 companies each year, and fostering an environment conducive to bringing innovation ideas to market.

Procter & Gamble Senior Vice Presidents Gerard Baillely, PhD, and Lee Ellen Drechsler, PhD, support this program as an innovation priority, “We celebrate over 50 years of advancing the research, design and industrialization of polymers with tangible benefits to quality of life across multiple applications and with robust human safety and environmental compatibility. Now with the SPEED program, we bring the power of data science, advanced research, and new STEM talent to continue driving polymer innovation and look forward to the opportunities ahead.”

Procter & Gamble Senior Vice Presidents Gerard Baillely, PhD, and Lee Ellen Drechsler, PhD

NSF announced the launch of the SPEED program stating, "Synthetic polymers are in many products and materials used by our society, from concrete and plastics to paper and rubber," says NSF Chemistry Division Director David Berkowitz. "Melding frontier chemistry with advanced data science tools to design and commercialize new high-value polymers can reduce pollution and waste — and ultimately enhance the health of our planet and the resiliency of our communities."

The SPEED program will push the industry toward a more sustainable future that we can all agree is welcome progress. We are pleased to join this effort alongside PepsiCo., The Dow Company, BASF, and IBM.

Read more about our research chops and how we share our discoveries with the world.