Waste management

SCA takes a life cycle approach and promotes resource efficiency in relation to its production, products, services and innovations. SCA initiates partnerships and evaluates solutions to minimize waste – from raw materials to end-consumer.

Production waste

In SCA’s production process, waste is generated in the form of ash, sludge, organic waste and/or plastic. The production sites proactively work to reduce waste and to find alternative solutions for its waste. A significant part (1.2 million tons or 65%) is used as raw materials in other industries, such as the construction industry, or as an energy source.

Together with an external partner in the Netherlands, SCA is testing the possibilities of using pyrolysis technology to extract energy from sludge. Read more in chapter Climate and energy.

Between 2014 and 2015, the amount of waste sent to landfill declined by 8,200 tons. Of this amount, the personal care sites reduced their waste to landfill by 1,000 tons, corresponding to a 36% reduction.

Products and services

In 2015, the EU Commission presented its circular economy strategy that will lead to societal change in many areas. SCA recognizes the need for solutions that drive the circular economy and actively applies this thinking to all of its products.

SCA uses life cycle assessments (LCAs) to minimize waste, all the way from the product design stage to manufacturing and end-use. Reducing the environmental impact of products throughout the product cycle, including the post-user phase, is part of SCA’s innovation process. Compared with 2008, Libero diapers weigh on average 20% less and the corresponding weight reduction for TENA products is 12%.

TENA Solutions is an example of how a holistic perspective in relation to incontinence care has resulted in 31% less waste, see chapter Hygiene solutions.

SCA’s tissue and forest products consist of wood fibers that, in addition to being renewable, can also be recycled. Recycling of materials from personal care products, such as baby diapers, is currently limited by the available technology, hygiene requirements and lack of viable business models. Energy recovery through incineration of hygiene products is a good alternative to landfill, since 25–80% of the material in personal care products and up to 100% in tissue products is renewable.

Another solution for tissue products is composting and SCA has several products in the US market that are certified as compostable, such as Tork Advance and Tork Universal.

An efficient way to reduce tissue waste is to focus on the user perspective. SCA develops dispensers that reduce consumption during use, such as Tork Xpressnap that reduces consumption by at least 25% compared with a traditional dispenser.

The packaging component normally accounts for 3–7% in a product life cycle. SCA has achieved a substantial packaging reduction in some of its products. Between 2008 and 2015, packaging was reduced by 3–21% for TENA products and by 5–20% for feminine hygiene products. Packaging for open diapers was reduced by 23%, while it increased by 15% for pant diapers. The rise was due to storage problems, which required packaging to be increased.

Post-consumer waste

SCA recognizes the need for solutions to address post-consumer waste and the materials we use should be compatible with current and future waste management systems.

SCA is involved in several post-consumer waste initiatives. Biodegradable waste from SCA’s office in Neenah, in the US, is converted into compost and electricity in a dry anaerobic biodigester at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. The total operation provides about 10% of the energy used at the campus. It also allows SCA to compost a wider variety of materials, including food waste and all paper, which diverts nearly 50% of the overall office waste from landfill.

An ongoing collaboration with Casella Waste Systems and Foley Distributing in the US allows SCA to be part of a process encouraging further recycling directly into new goods. Casella collects recyclable material on college campuses in the northeastern US states and, in return, provides colleges with data to calculate their own carbon footprints. Since mid-2012, the recycled material is delivered to SCA’s paper mill in South Glens Falls, N.Y. as a source of recycled fiber, and is further fashioned into new, 100% recycled-content hand towels and tissue. Foley, a distribution company, then delivers new products back to the colleges.