We've set ourselves a goal to reduce the environmental impact of our products by working to put in place, where we are able, initiatives to divert post-consumer waste from landfill.
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.
We have been proud partners of Envirocomp since it was founded in New Zealand in 2009 as the world’s first service to collect and compost used nappies, incontinence products and sanitary items from households. Using purpose-built plants in the Canterbury and Urban Wellington areas, reaching 24% of New Zealanders, Envirocomp facilities break down nappies and sanitary waste into a safe, odourless compost, meaning they are diverted from landfill. Around 7% of households in each region and over 100 commercial customers have subscribed to the Envirocomp service.
Since the first Envirocomp plant was installed in Canterbury in June 2009, the equivalent of over 18 million nappies or around 3,000 tonnes of sanitary hygiene products have been processed through the two sites. Demand has resulted in an additional plant being installed in Canterbury, so Envirocomp has the current capacity to process around 67,000 nappies per month or up to 1,344 tonnes of sanitary hygiene waste each year, which is equivalent to 8 million nappies. Each of the plants also have the capacity to quadruple in size to meet demand. Envirocomp is planning to extend their existing coverage so more New Zealanders have access to the composting service.
In 2013, Kimberly-Clark New Zealand and Envirocomp’s voluntary product stewardship scheme to reduce sanitary hygiene waste to landfill was accredited under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 by the Honorary Amy Adams, New Zealand’s Minister for the Environment. As the first consumer goods company to receive accreditation under the Act, we are proud to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to helping fund and promote an alternative to landfill. As part of our commitment to product stewardship we report annually to the Ministry for the Environment on the progress of the scheme.
At Kimberly-Clark, we have been working for a number of years to identify a waste processing option that would enable our Huggies® Nappies, Poise® and Depend® adult care products, and our U by Kotex® feminine hygiene products to be recycled post use.
In 2014 we announced our partnership with an innovative start-up company called Relivit, which is pursuing an Australian solution to recycling disposable nappies, female hygiene and adult incontinence products also known as absorbent hygiene waste.
Relivit plans to develop an Australian-first business model and technology to divert over 95% of absorbent hygiene waste from landfill. This means that in the future, used disposable nappies, female hygiene and adult incontinence products could become almost completely recyclable.
Relivit is currently working on securing the final piece of funding needed to start building their first facility in NSW, which they hope will service from Newcastle and the Lower Hunter through the Central Coast and Sydney, down to Wollongong and the Southern Illawarra.
It will recover the paper fibre, plastic and super absorbent polymer (SAP) contained in absorbent hygiene waste to be used to manufacture new products such as park benches, building materials and more.
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® Cottonelle® packaging and Huggies® nappy bag liners by returning them to one of 580 drop off points across six states in Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory.
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.
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.