Procter & Gamble (P&G) is about to achieve one of its four first environmental steps: having zero consumer and manufacturing waste go to landfills.
P&G announced its first zero manufacturing waste to landfill site in Budapest in 2007. Since then, the company has shared a long-term environmental vision, pledging to work toward zero consumer and manufacturing waste worldwide. According to the consumer goods giant – well known for its global beauty and personal care brands such as Crest, Head & Shoulders, Gillette, Oral-B, Olay, Pantene, SK-II and Wella – less than 1% of all materials entering its sites globally leaves as waste. Through quality assurance, packaging reduction, compaction and recycling efforts, the company now ensures that 99% of all materials entering P&G plants leaves as finished product or is recycled, reused or converted to energy.
To drive all sites toward zero, P&G has searched for innovative ways to find value in what was once seen as waste. For instance, in Mexico, paper sludge from a Charmin toilet tissue plant is turned into low-cost roof tiles used to build homes in the local community. At a U.S. Pampers site, scrap from the wipe manufacturing process is converted to upholstery filling. And, in the U.K., waste created in the production of Gillette shaving foam is composted then used to grow turf for commercial uses.
“There are well-defined systems for recycling materials like paper, plastic and glass, but our product portfolio is incredibly broad, resulting in a diverse set of waste streams to find sustainable solutions for,” shared Dr. Forbes McDougall, who leads P&G’s global zero manufacturing waste program. “We focused on finding solutions for our toughest waste streams at our largest sites, and while initially we saw progress in our overall corporate recycling, the increase in zero landfill sites was slow. Today, we have found ways to divert most of our major waste streams away from landfill, so we’re now seeing new sites achieve zero manufacturing waste to landfill nearly every month.”
The three other steps within P&G’s long-term environmental sustainability vision include: powering all P&G plants with 100% renewable energy, using 100% renewable or recycled materials for all products and packaging produced by the company, and designing products while maximizing the conservation of resources.
“We have a vision for the future, where plants are powered by renewable energy, products are made from recycled and renewable materials and resources are conserved, with no waste going to landfill. Changing the way we see waste as a company has brought us one step closer to this goal at 45 sites worldwide, where all of our manufacturing waste is recycled, repurposed or converted into energy,” said Bob McDonald, P&G President, CEO and Chairman of the Board.
According to P&G, the work to find worth in waste has created over 1 billion US dollars in value for the company over the past 5 years.