P&G: why have zero waste to landfill goals, and how do you do it?

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

P&G: why have zero waste to landfill goals, and how do you do it?
At the recent Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Paris, Procter & Gamble’s Jacques Euler spoke on the company’s efforts towards sustainability via the route of ‘zero waste to landfill’.

The sustainability expert covered how P&G sees sustainability, what zero manufacturing waste to landfill is and how it can be useful, the results P&G has seen from working to this target, and the key learnings the company has discovered over the process of working to zero waste to landfill.

Waste across the supply chain

The company carries out Life Cycle Analysis on its processes across the supply chain, and says its manufacturing sites are low in waste generation vs. finished product disposal.

P&G works on both manufacturing waste and finished products waste, and Euler’s presentation focused on the manufacturing side of the company’s efforts.

The company has a target of 100% zero manufacturing waste to landfill from its operations by 2020. P&G says this type of goal is more meaningful and easy to understand than other types of sustainability goals (carbon footprint reduction, for example).

The company is at 80% reduction already achieved ahead of its 2020 goal.

Zero Waste to Landfill (ZWTL)

P&G suggests that although it believes the goal is easy to communicate, it doesn’t actually have a fixed definition: there is now universally accepted external standard for Zero Waste to Landfill (ZWTL).

Indeed, many regions and organisations have competing standards for this. In the meantime, P&G has created its own standard, Euler explains.

To date, 86% of the company’s sites have reached ZWTL in manufacturing.

How to do it?

The following are the steps, according to P&G’s Euler, that the company takes to work towards its waste target.

They are:

  • Waste mapping: work out where your waste is coming from and why

  • Reduce/eliminate:

This includes beneficial reuse within the site in question or with its primary partners, recycling, finding a use for the wate (e.g. car washing), incineration with energy recovery from the process. This last option is not the best route to waste reduction, Euler says, but it offers a solution where there’s no alternative.

  • Landfill diversion with Life Cycle Analysis benefit

  • Audit

  • Quarterly tracking

Current challenges

Euler says that infrastructure for incineration with energy recovery is a key major challenge, while another difficulty is posed by the legal obligation for land-filling in some countries in which P&G is active,

For Euler, the most important thing is to make sure waste is not losing its quality, and that it can be considered as a by-product rather than waste wherever possible. To do this, he says, the company needs to avoid down-usage like reusing waste at a lower quality, and incineration.

Euleur predicts that disposal of waste is going to get tougher and tougher because of regulation and legislation restricting current options for waste usage elsewhere.

While Euler’s presentation at the SCS Paris event was dedicated to reducing waste in the company’s manufacturing, he also mentioned the company’s Head & Shoulders’ recycling drive for finished products too: its Beach Plastic Bottle initiative.

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