We put a great deal of focus on finding solutions to eliminate waste from our manufacturing mills, distribution centres and offices, as well as helping our consumers and customers find solutions for the disposal of our products’ at the end of the products’ lifecycle.
We have set a bold ambition around extending our zero waste mindset within our manufacturing sites, distribution centres and offices.
We’ve also set ourselves a goal to put in place, where we are able,
We currently have a number of programs in place to address our material post-consumer waste challenges. These initiatives centre on absorbent hygiene products (nappies, incontinence and sanitary products) along with plastic packaging.
Proudly supporting the REDcycle Program
We are a foundation partner of the REDcycle Program, which enables consumers to recycle flexible plastic packaging such as Kleenex® packaging and Huggies® nappy bag liners by returning them to one of the drop off points across Australia.
The REDcycle Program is a voluntary, industry-led initiative where everyone involved in the life cycle of a product – manufacturers, distributors and consumers – choose to share responsibility for the best end-of-life outcome.
Flexible plastic packaging, which was previously sent to landfill and to date cannot be included at home for kerbside collection and recycling, is processed and sent on to local Australian manufacturer and program partner Replas where it is converted into quality recycled-plastic products for schools and communities.
Soft Plastics Recycling Program
We also partner with the Soft Plastics Recycling Program in New Zealand, an initiative which allows consumers to take their flexible plastic packaging to Love NZ Soft Plastics Recycling bins located in 350 stores across New Zealand.
As this program is run by REDgroup, the same company that leads REDcycle, the flexible plastic is also collected and recycled by Australian manufacturer Replas where it is made into new products.
We also constantly look at innovative ways to improve and reduce the packaging of our products in order to lessen our impact on the environment.
We are always looking for creative new ways to increase the amount of recycled content in our flexible plastic packaging, and continue to work on packaging and distribution optimisation initiatives to reduce our packaging weight without compromising on the quality and functionality that our products are renowned for. We continuously optimise the size and configuration of our packs to enable distribution efficiency improvements and minimise transport impacts on the environment.
As part of our Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) Plan, we regularly review the specifications of all our packaging materials to ensure our packaging design selection is carried out under the principles of the APCO Sustainable Packaging Guidelines (SPG). These guidelines outline the principles for optimising the design and selection of packaging for the environment.
Nappies: Biodegradability and recycling
It is important to note that no single understanding or definition of ‘biodegradable” exists - and, in reality, nappies that end up in landfill – even those labelled “biodegradable” – typically will not biodegrade, due to the way landfills are managed. That is why, alongside innovating our products, we have been looking into alternate disposal options for our nappies.
Currently in Australia and New Zealand, there is no option to fully recycle disposable nappies and absorbent hygiene products (such as sanitary and incontinence products) on a commercial scale, so we believe backing local innovation in this area is incredibly important:
- In Australia: In 2014 we announced our partnership with an innovative start-up company called Relivit, who were pursuing an Australian solution to recycling disposable nappies and other absorbent hygiene waste. Unfortunately Relivit could not secure the full funding to get the plant up and running.
- In New Zealand: Previously we were the proud partners of Envirocomp – the first service in New Zealand and the world to collect and compost used nappies, incontinence products and sanitary items from households. Unfortunately this model is currently no longer running as it was not economically viable. However, the company behind Envirocomp is exploring other options for the future and we are still in regular contact.
We are now actively exploring other options for the future.
On top of this, we are constantly looking for innovative ways to reduce waste and lessen the impact of our products, which includes exploring options to increase our use of biodegradable or recyclable materials. To maintain our focus, set ourselves stretch goals and consistently look into potential solutions in this space, we have made Waste & Recycling one of our 5 priority areas in our local sustainability strategy, and it is also a core focus area of Kimberly-Clark’s global Sustainability 2022 strategy.
At this point, we haven’t yet identified any suitable alternate biodegradable materials or easily recyclable formats that would deliver the same high product quality or performance, including the same absorbency and leakage protection, or the same softness, that our current Huggies products provide and that our consumers expect from our brand.
We have made significant progress to minimise the waste landfilled from our manufacturing operations. Nappies that don’t meet our high quality standards are sent to our state of the art nappy reclaim facility, which breaks apart the nappies into various components. We then send the super absorbent materials back into the manufacturing process to be made into new nappies and the other materials are recycled by a third party. In total, we divert 89% of the waste generated from our Australia nappy manufacturing site from landfill, and continue to identify solutions to achieve our Zero Waste to Landfill goal.