P&G highlights clear value in manufacturing waste innovation

Procter & Gamble's global waste reduction leader Dr Forbes McDougall has underlined the company's commitment to finding innovative ways to deal with its waste materials.

Successes include converting scrap material from the manufacture of Pampers-branded nappies and wipes into upholstery filling, and composting the waste generated from the production of Gillette shaving foam so it can be used to grow commercial turf.

Writing in a blog, McDougall said that continuing to look for new ways to approach waste every day was part of P&G’s overall zero waste drive.

“[We] have set ourselves stringent benchmarks to ensure that zero waste means exactly that … changing the way we see waste as a company has brought us one step closer to a vision of the future where our plants are powered by renewable energy, our products are made from recycled and renewable materials and our resources are conserved.”

Last year the company announced that 45 of its manufacturing sites worldwide had achieved zero waste to landfill, representing a third of its total production infrastructure. Four of these sites are in the UK and Ireland, where all of the manufacturing waste is recycled, repurposed or converted into energy.

Revenue driver

McDougall said that the inspiration to reduce waste can come from anywhere. “Zero waste at 45 sites is a start, but we are exploring every single facet of our business to innovate towards new solutions that not only help towards our environmental vision, but benefit our bottom line too.”

He added that over the past five years, P&G’s efforts to extract value from its waste streams have generated more than $1bn in revenue for the company.

Acknowledging that initial progress was ‘slow’, McDougall said that with established systems for recycling materials like paper, plastic and glass, the company has to constantly challenge itself to deal with its toughest waste streams at its largest sites – and that this has led to unexpected solutions.

Besides the earlier examples mentioned, the company has also found a way to turn paper sludge from a Charmin toilet tissue plant in Mexico into low-cost roof tiles, which can be used to build homes in the local community.

“These are just some of the examples that are now inspiring our business to drive towards zero waste at all of P&G sites, each of which presents a unique set of challenges given the breadth of our product portfolio and the diverse set of waste streams for which we are seeking solutions,” McDougall said.

“We have found ways to divert most of our major waste streams away from landfill and we’re seeing new sites achieve zero manufacturing waste to landfill nearly every month. Waste really does have worth and we will continue to prove it.”

Maxine Perella

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