The United States has established an unfortunate notoriety for producing landfill waste. At only 4% of the global population, America is responsible for 30% of the planet’s total waste generation. Approximately 31% of generated waste is packaging and containers alone, and corporations are responsible for a substantial amount of this landfill waste. As waste management itself is a commercial business, the corporate need for profit outweighs community health risks when it comes to regulation. Fortunately, corporations such as Procter & Gamble (P&G) have committed to reducing and even eliminating their contribution to landfill waste.
Zero Landfill Waste by 2020
P&G is the corporation behind a number of well-known brands, from Always to Vicks. P&G recently announced that by the year 2020, all of their manufacturing sites will send zero waste to landfills. 56% of its global sites have already achieved this milestone, and their site in Costa Rica is completely zero waste to landfill. Globally, P&G has already ensured that 99% of materials entering their plants leave as a finished product or end up being reused.
The company has managed to find ways to divert the remaining 1% of materials from landfills, and much of that success is due to its Global Asset Recovery Purchases (GARP) team. Repurposing waste is a clever way of reducing landfill waste and profiting off of it instead. At the Always site in Hungary, scraps are sent to cement companies and incinerated for energy to make bricks. In China, waste from one facility is used to make bricks themselves. Another facility’s waste is composted into nutritional soil for local parks. A site in India is turning scraps into wall partitions for homes and offices. Roof tiles, low cost shoes, car wash components, the list of items goes on.
P&G’s no-waste efforts transcend repurposed materials. It has become a culture at their facilities, encouraging employees to reduce on a personal level. The Gillette Plant in Boston implements their no waste philosophy even in the cafeteria. Signs encourage employees to recycle and compost. All packaging for takeaway items is made from corn or sugar and thus is compostable. That same compostable packaging is now being used for Gillette and other P&G products.
Environmentally Sustainable All Around
Reducing landfill waste is not P&G’s only sustainability effort; they are also pushing for environmental sustainability with water, packaging, and CO2/energy reduction. They’ve set a goal to reduce water use in manufacturing facilities by 20% per unit of production by 2020. P&G is also attempting to produce water efficient products to reduce consumer water footprint. Innovations concerning energy reduction include 100% wind electricity for plants that produce Fabric and Home Care products in the U.S. and Canada. P&G’s packaging goals are reducing packaging by 20% per consumer use, doubling use of recycled resin in plastic packaging, and ensuring that 90% of packaging is recyclable. P&G is also looking to use more renewable energy and materials, increase facility efficiency, and reduce transportation.
P&G And Other Corporations’ Environmental Goals
P&G is not the only corporation pushing for zero landfill waste. Nestle has achieved landfill-free status in all of its U.S. based facilities. Unilever North America has also attained zero landfill waste. Waste hauler, Sustainable Waste Solutions, is the only landfill-free waste and recycling company for the region of southeast Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley, and Delaware. This is particularly significant considering the general commercial waste company push against landfill regulation. MillerCoors, Mars Chocolate North America, and Ford, among others, are all achieving zero landfill status at one or all of their facilities.
Though it is certainly monumental for corporations to take responsibility for their output of landfill waste, the next step is the consumer. With 4.6 billion people worldwide using P&G products, they have also set a long-term goal of achieving zero consumer waste. Creating products that use less energy and water may be the next step in consumer sustainability.
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