‘Betterbusiness’ pays off for RB with zero-waste milestone

Multinational consumer goods firm RB (formerly Reckitt Benckiser) has achieved zero manufacturing waste to landfill across its European and North American (ENA) factories, thanks to the implementation of various location-specific innovations.

The company, which owns Nurofen, Strepsil, and Durex amongst others, has also reduced waste per unit by 7% since 2013, as part of its ‘betterbusiness’ sustainability scheme.

Specific sites took different strategic steps to cut waste, based on their resources and waste patterns. For example, at RB’s Baddi site in India, talcum powder waste is being used as a raw material for the production of plastic granules.

Likewise at RB’s Bangpakong site in Thailand, wastewater treatment sludge is being turned into concrete blocks to be used in local schools.

The company is also targeting a one-third reduction in water impact, one-third reduction in carbon and taking a third of its net revenue from more sustainable products by 2020.

RB global head of sustainability Victoria Wood said: “Since launching our ‘betterbusiness’ strategy in 2012, we’ve seen a rapid transition towards zero waste. We’ve gone from 4 to 31 factories achieving zero manufacturing waste to landfill status. This is over 60% of our factories globally. I’m proud of what our teams have achieved in such a short time and how they are hitting our targets early.”

‘Waste Champions’

Alongside its factory specific measures, RB took four broad company-wide steps to reach zero waste to landfill.

– Created a network of ‘waste champions’ and established a ‘Buddy-Up’ programme, partnering zero manufacturing waste to landfill factories with those that have not yet met the target. This will ensure that knowledge is transferred and the zero waste culture will continue to be embedded across the business. 
– Launched a ‘Race to Zero’ campaign which included a series of waste events encouraging competition amongst sites
– Issued a global employee challenge to crowdsource innovative waste reuse and recycling ideas
– Carried out waste audits

Over the first six months of this year, RB has diverted over 32,000 tonnes of waste from landfill, and reduced the total percentage of waste sent to landfill to 15.6% (H1 2014) vs 19.7% in 2013.

Brad Allen

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