People and nature innovations

Innovations that improve social and environmental performance also make financial sense. For SCA, such innovations are linked to an in-depth understanding of customers and consumers.

SCA’s innovation process

SCA’s innovation process originates in an understanding of a customer or consumer need and is divided into four phases:

  • Feasibility: Innovation concepts based on customer or consumer insight are elaborated and validated. The market situation and the global business potential are assessed, and high-level technological and commercial feasibility are evaluated.
  • Development: A cross-functional project team is engaged in the development of a proposed solution, including a specific product, service or business model. Requirements of the product, packaging, service and technology are developed and verified with customers and consumers, and communication materials are prepared. Product safety assessments for materials, life cycle assessments (LCAs) and social assessments are performed by experts to ensure product safety and environmental and social performance.
  • Capacity: The project works toward market launch and building the capability to deliver. Launch campaign materials are created, the production solution is verified against requirements, and all product and packaging specifications are finalized. The fulfilment of the regulatory requirements governing products in all markets is secured.
  • Launch: The innovation is introduced to customers/consumers in the market. The intended benefits are weighed against market feedback; the supply chain is adjusted accordingly. Supply and demand balance is optimized in production to ensure efficiency and the feedback drives the roll-out plan.

In 2016, SCA invested SEK 1,258m (1,093, 1,050) in research and development. This corresponds to 1.1% of total sales.

Open innovation

SCA has a portal for open innovation. Inventors, entrepreneurs and small companies are invited to submit solutions in response to various challenges from SCA. The solutions should be patented so that there are no outstanding issues regarding intellectual property rights should the proposal result in a licensing agreement or other type of business arrangement. A number of proposals have been submitted this way and some of them have led to further collaboration or product launches.

SCA launched an internal innovation platform in 2013 called ICON (Idea Collaboration Online). ICON is not limited to product innovations. Proposals may include manufacturing, logistics or marketing solutions. ICON complements other platforms and initiatives to spur innovation and is frequently used in early phases of the innovation process to gather solutions and ideas from employees.

Life cycle management

Life cycle management is about effectively combining value, social and environmental aspects in every part of the life cycle. This enables SCA to deliver products and services that meet customers’ needs and exceed their expectations. We promote life cycle thinking in our sourcing, production and development of innovations.

  • Responsible sourcing involves seeking high-quality, safe, socially and environmentally sound raw materials. SCA’s suppliers adhere to strict standards, including criteria for quality, product safety, environment, chemicals and business responsibility.
  • Resource-efficient production focuses on an efficient use of resources and on reducing energy consumption, and waste. The production units apply management systems such as ISO 9001, and .
  • Sustainable solutions are defined as innovative, socially and environmentally sound hygiene products and services. SCA’s innovations are based on consumer and customer insight with a focus on meeting needs in daily life. It is essential to optimize products and services during use to control consumption and reduce waste.
  • After-use management of products is a common responsibility with consumers and customers. Energy recovery through incineration of hygiene products is a good alternative to landfill. SCA is actively exploring waste treatment methodologies, such as recycling of materials, composting and anaerobic digestion.

Life cycle assessments

SCA has used life cycle assessments (LCAs) since the early 1990s. An illustrates the complete environmental impact of a product based on the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards. It is a standardized measurement of environmental impact in every phase of the product, from raw materials, product development, production and use to disposal of waste.

For each activity in the life cycle, an LCA calculates the input of resources, energy and transportation and the output of, for example, emissions to air and water.

The result of an LCA is expressed in environmental impact categories. The LCAs conducted by SCA cover the main impact categories that describe the potential impact on global warming/, meaning the product’s carbon footprint, acidification of rivers and lakes, and eutrophication of land or water systems.


Carbon footprint reduction 2008–2015, %









TENA Pants




TENA Comfort




Libero open diaper


Libero pants


Feminine Ultra towels


Feminine Maxi towels


Feminine Absorbent liners


Feminine Light liners


Tork hand towels*


LCAs are used both to calculate the environmental performance of new innovations and to measure the gradual improvements over time for product assortments. The carbon footprint calculations above cover the majority of sales for all assortments in Europe and are third-party verified by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL) or Swerea. Assortment LCAs are calculated biannually.

In addition, an assortment has been calculated for Tork excelCLEAN, a cleaning cloth for which the carbon footprint was reduced by 14% in Europe and North America between 2012 and 2016.

Definition of People and nature innovations

SCA’s People and nature innovations are defined as inventions that lead to social or environmental improvements. The social assessment criteria include health, hygiene, working conditions, ergonomic improvements, as well as dignity and confidence in social situations. With respect to the environmental assessment, performance and resource efficiency are measured using life cycle assessments and/or third-party labels are taken into account.

People and nature innovations 2016

In 2016, SCA launched 23 innovations. People and nature innovations accounted for 40% of total innovation sales. Read about some of these in chapter People and Nature innovation.

Represents the sum of surface water, ground water and tap water for processes and cooling purposes.
ISO 14001
The standard published by the International Standards Organization, specifying the requirements of an environmental management system. All SCA European mills are certified ISO 14001.
OHSAS 18001
Management system standard for occupational health and safety.
Life cycle assessment, LCA
A method of assessing the environmental impact of a product, taking account of its entire lifespan from raw material extraction to waste disposal.
Climate Change
Also defined as global warming. Human activity contributes to the warming of the global environment and its resulting effects, which range from higher temperatures to eccentric weather patterns and melting of the ice caps.
Life cycle assessment, LCA
A method of assessing the environmental impact of a product, taking account of its entire lifespan from raw material extraction to waste disposal.