P&G pilots first ‘scalable MRF’ for post-consumer waste

Proctor & Gamble (P&G) has launched a pilot project to tackle global waste arisings in the form of an infrastructure-based recovery model that can be scaled up and replicated.

The integrated ‘Waste to Worth’ model has been designed as a solution to the lack of treatment and recovery infrastructure in developing countries. The first model, which will take the form of a materials recovery facility (MRF), will be set up in the Philippines.

P&G is working in partnership with the Asian Development Bank to get the pilot off the ground in early 2013. It undertook extensive research in the Philippines to understand tonnages and composition of the country’s waste streams so it could build a tailored solution to maximise recovery levels.

The company says it intends to explore “additional pilot opportunities between now and 2020” in its bid to eliminate landfilled post-consumer waste. Each pilot will be a multi-stakeholder business opportunity, enabling solutions to be scaled up, with P&G as a key contributor.

A zero landfill consumer waste vision is part of P&G’s CSR strategy and closely coupled with its sustainable packaging commitments. Over the past year, the company has focused on developing packaging reduction plans for key product categories such as razors.

On area where P&G is undertaking detailed research is in the use of plant-based materials. It is a member of the plant PET technology collaborative which was set up earlier this year with other key stakeholders including Coca-Cola, Ford Motors and Nike.

The first venture into this field can be seen with its bio-resin bottles under the Pantene brand which comprise up to 45% of plant-based plastics, but the company says it expects the bulk of new renewable material replacements won’t be commercialised until 2015 to 2020.

Other examples of material optimisation include removing fluff pulp from a line of Pampers diapers which led to more efficient product distribution, enabling hundreds of trucks to be taken off the road.

P&G also streamlined the packaging of its Whitestrips tooth whitening product, combining two sets of foil pouches into one and saving 190 tonnes of material a year.

The goal for 2020 across all of the company’s operation is to further reduce packaging by 20% per consumer use and also to deliver an additional 20% reduction (per unit of production) of disposed waste.

Over the past five years, waste reduction gains have been strong – P&G has reduced its waste by 69% on an absolute basis and by 71% on a production-adjusted basis, more than tripling its original goal of 20%.

More than 99.2% of materials entering the manufacturing process are now recovered in some way, through reuse and recycling (79%) or through energy recovery while 10 facilities have achieved zero manufacturing waste to landfill.

Maxine Perella

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie