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, find alternative uses and/or create new resources – from raw materials to end-consumer.
A new production waste target
SCA has adopted a new production waste target stating that “all solid production waste will be recovered by 2030.”
In 2016, SCA’s production waste amounted to a total of 1.87 Mtons. 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 their waste. In 2016, a significant part (1.2 million tons or 65%) was recovered as raw materials in other industries, such as the construction industry, or as an energy source. The remainder was sent to landfill or classified as hazardous waste (0.4%).
SCA’s tissue plant in Barton in the US turns production waste into a soil additive for local farmers. The product is spread over agricultural land to adjust the pH level in the soil. Since the start of the initiative in April 2016, 40 farmers have started using the land application and there are 15 more farmers on a waiting list.
Products and services
SCA uses life cycle assessments (LCAs) to minimize waste, all the way from the product design stage to manufacturing and after-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, TENA products on average 12% less and feminine ultra towels 9% less.
TENA Solutions is an example of how a holistic perspective in relation to incontinence care has resulted in 31% less waste.
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 a lack of viable business models. Energy recovery through incineration of hygiene products is a good alternative to landfill, since 23–86% 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, which 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, changes in packaging weight varied between +10% and -26% for TENA products. The increase was due to assortment changes. Packaging for feminine hygiene products was reduced by 1-14% and for open diapers by 12%. It increased 8% for pant diapers, due to quality problems which required packaging to be increased.
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.
In Europe, SCA has initiated a service where used paper handtowels are collected at customer facilities and turned into new products, see chapter Waste.
In North America, SCA educates and partners with customers to reduce waste. Many large cities have ambitious zero-waste-to-landfill goals since this not only reduces their negative environmental impact on climate change, but also has financial benefits. SCA supports these zero-waste efforts with closed loop recycling in proximity to SCA’s six North American plants. Used office paper and corrugated paperboard are collected from customers such as universities, healthcare facilities and corporations, and used as raw material for the production of new products in SCA’s plants. This process reduces the customer’s cost, since recycling rates are often lower than solid waste collection and disposal fees, supports the local economy and jobs and contributes to a circular economy.
Additionally, a majority of the Tork products in North America are verified as compostable in commercial systems. Compostable paper hygiene products can be composted with food waste. SCA helps large customers to further divert waste from landfill by educating them on how to separate and collect used paper towels in restrooms, napkins and paper towels in break rooms and cafeterias.