Visit to P&G’s Pampers Zero Waste to Landfill Plant in Johannesburg
On the 17th of August, the #MyLittleBigThing winners were picked up from their hotel for a tour of P&G’s Pampers manufacturing plant in the East of Johannesburg. What makes this plant special is that there is zero waste from this plant that gets sent to landfill. You could also argue that this is what makes the plant fairly ordinary in the P&G world, as close to 60% of P&G manufacturing plants globally have the same claim to fame.
P&G is a multinational fast-moving consumer goods company, with leading brands that are part of everyday life in over 180 countries, such as Pampers, Always, Ariel and Gillette. This scale means that for P&G, environmental sustainability is not only a clear responsibility, but also a business opportunity, and a way to better serve their consumers.
Deenash Sughrim, the plant’s Health, Safety and Environmental Leader shared the plant’s zero waste to landfill journey with the group, and they had a chance to see the sophisticated (and speedy) manufacturing process up close during a tour of the plant.
There is a surprising amount of technology and science that goes into something as commonplace as a baby’s diaper: sophisticated super-absorbing materials, built-in elastics, re-useable fasteners and even a touch of lotion – everything to keep your baby dry, comfortable and happy. To make sure that Pampers fulfils its promise, the production process is under strict quality control. This means that diapers that have defects that can barely be seen by the naked eye are picked up by the machinery and the quality control team, and are rejected.
In other plants, this waste, and other manufacturing waste would simply be taken to landfill. However, by working with experts, the Pampers team found ways to ensure that this waste gets repurposed. This extends to all waste that is generated at the plant, even the food scraps from the canteen. Waste is incinerated for energy generation, recycled into new materials, or composted for fertiliser. Even the cellulose dust, which is left from the absorbent cellulose material that goes into the diaper, is compacted into bricks that can be used for energy generation.
The goal of being a zero waste to landfill plant was not an easy one to achieve, and it is a process that needs an effort from a committed team every day. However it is an achievement that P&G and the Pampers South Africa plant are incredibly proud of, and just one step closer to the company’s vision of zero manufacturing and consumer waste ending up in landfills one day.
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