This article is sponsored by Procter & Gamble.
The production, use, and after use of consumer and commercial products creates solid waste that represents both a waste of resources and a source of environmental impact – but also a revenue opportunity.
Companies Commit to Zero Waste
American industrial facilities generate and dispose of approximately 7.6 billion tons of industrial solid waste each year, according to the EPA.
Many manufacturing companies have begun to focus on reducing the amount of solid waste they generate; some of these are committing to sending zero waste to landfill in coming years.
Procter & Gamble (P&G) has committed to send zero manufacturing waste to landfill by 2020. The company defines “zero waste” as “zero manufacturing waste disposed directly to landfill or to incineration without energy recovery by the site, except where local legal requirements specify that regulated wastes must be disposed in a landfill.”
Tactics the company is using to reach this goal include working to eliminate or reduce solid waste from production processes, designing more material-efficient delivery systems, and using lifecycle thinking to improve product packaging and design.
Currently, P&G has more than 60 manufacturing sites that send zero manufacturing waste to landfill.
“You save money each time you reduce waste going to landfill,” says Len Sauers, vice president of global sustainability for P&G. “This has led to significant cost savings in our supply chain, which helps the bottom line.”
Hershey’s is another company with a zero waste to landfill program, diverting materials that would typically end up in landfills to alternate channels, such as recycling, reuse or incineration. By the end of 2013, six Hershey manufacturing facilities had reached zero waste, the company said.
Nestlé has made a pledge that all 150 of its European factories will be zero waste by 2020. The company achieved its first zero waste facility in 2011. By the end of 2012, Nestlé had achieved zero waste status in 39 of its 468 factories worldwide.
Aircraft engines manufacturer Pratt & Whitney says it will achieve zero waste – 100 percent recycled – in its factories by 2025. The company says that, since 2006, it has reduced its total industrial process waste by 30 percent.
General Motors is striving toward achieving zero waste in its facilities, but is also attempting to drive a global movement toward zero waste (a project which won a 2014 Environmental Leader Top Project of the Year Award). GM now recycles 90 percent of its global manufacturing waste and has committed to increase its landfill-free facilities to 125 by 2020. The company uses a range of processes, including data collection and monitoring systems, employee and external engagement initiatives, and creative reuse and recycling. A large part of its global movement toward zero waste is sharing these strategies throughout its value chain and the broader manufacturing industry.