Huggies to eliminate plastics from baby wipes and packaging

Kimberly-Clark-owned brand Huggies has pledged to eliminate plastics from its baby wipe range in the UK over the next five years and launch a portfolio next year that will allow consumers to return packaging to supermarkets to be recycled.

Huggies to eliminate plastics from baby wipes and packaging

More than 14.8 billion baby wipes are used in the UK every year

Huggies, which uses up to 50% less plastic in its wipes than other brands, has pledged to remove plastics from its wipes and packaging over the next five years.

The brand will have removed 50 tonnes of plastics from its products by the end of 2019 by removing excess packaging from 12 and 18 multipacks and remove plastic from its Extra Care range in the design phase.

Kimberly-Clark UK’s managing director Ori Ben Shai, said: “We know that parents are becoming more environmentally conscious, but we also know that they need an affordable and convenient solution that is gentle on their baby’s skin.

“We’ve already made headway and are proud to offer an alternative which has a lower environmental impact than other leading brands, but we won’t stop until we have found a fully sustainable solution as we believe no parent should have to compromise between caring for their baby and caring for the environment.”

More than 14.8 billion baby wipes are used in the UK every year, many of which end up in waterways, oceans and wastewater systems. In fact, wet wipes made up more than 90% of the material causing sewer blockages investigated by Water UK in 2017.

Huggies is part of the UK’s Plastic Pact and is aiming to become the first leading baby wipe brand to clearly label the plastic content of its wipes on the pack. The brand will aim to launch 100% recyclable packaging across its portfolio next year, which can be recycled at select supermarkets. More broadly, Huggies will transition to a fully sustainable wipe and packaging portfolio over the next five years.

The company will work with universities and environmental organisations to develop the “fully sustainable alternative”.

Huggies also commissioned a YouGov study and found that 85% of UK parents use 24 baby wipes a day on average, which amounts to 8,760 wipes every year. Almost all respondents (97%) view baby wipes as an important essential of their daily childcare routine.

The company is engaging with parents to ensure that they don’t flush baby wipes, but that they do recycle the multipacks.

Cosmetics and toiletries

Think tanks have estimated that the global cosmetics and toiletries sector is producing 120 billion units of packaging a year – and that’s not to mention products such as plastic-stemmed cotton buds, wet wipes, individual dental floss sticks or sanitary towels.

Most firms within the toiletries and cosmetics space seem to be turning to recyclability in order to regain the trust of ever more plastics-focused consumers.

The past two years have seen the likes of GarnierL’OrealColgate Palmolive and Boots forging partnerships with multinational recycling firm TerraCycle. Under these schemes, consumers are encouraged to deposit plastic items which are considered ‘hard-to-recycle’ by their local authorities in drop-off points at retail hubs and community locations or to mail them back to TerraCycle individually. Collected items are cleaned, shredded and melted before being re-made into products such as fence posts and outdoor furniture.

More recently, TerraCycle partnered with The Body Shop to install recycling boxes in 672 of its stores globally, including 230 locations in the UK. Packaging deposited in these boxes is notably assessed to see whether it can be reused before being sent for recycling. 

Matt Mace

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