Procter & Gamble opens first North American zero-waste plant

Procter & Gamble has announced its first zero-waste-to-landfill manufacturing plant in North America in the latest move towards its goal of becoming a zero-waste company.

The facility, based in Auburn, Maine, will reuse all its waste, with 60 per cent or more being recycled and the remainder used to create energy.

The company has already achieved zero-waste status for eight manufacturing facilities in regions including Belgium, the UK, Hungary and Italy, but the Maine plant represents the first US facility to embrace the model.

Sectors covered by Procter & Gamble’s zero-waste facilities include fabric and home care, beauty and grooming, and feminine care.

The North American facility, which deals in feminine care products, was connected to an external solutions provider that provides an incineration facility for non-recyclable materials, which produces electricity that is sold to the local power company.

The company also sorts all the recyclable materials and ensures they are recycled safely, Procter & Gamble explained.

The company said it wants to extend its zero-waste-to-landfill programme globally, and is aiming for less than 0.5 per cent of disposed manufacturing waste within 10 years.

Other sustainability goals adopted by the conglomerate include using 100 per cent renewable or recycled materials or products, and powering its plants with 100 per cent renewable energy. Meanwhile, composting is to join recycling and waste-to-energy as a means of waste disposal at a number of facilities.

Procter & Gamble is currently engaged in a race with arch rival Unilever to establish itself as one of the world’s leading green companies, with both firms recently releasing ambitious new environmental targets. For example, Unilever announced last month that it will aim to halve its environmental impact by 2020.

However, while Procter & Gamble’s new facility was welcomed, environmental groups have this week criticised the lack of progress towards a zero-waste policy at the UN’s COP16 talks in Cancun this month.

Brian Kilgore, managing director of Lifetime Recycling Village, argued that progress thus far had been disappointing. “We only need to look at the growing problem of waste management in many of the world’s most developed countries to see that this is an urgent issue that we need to face up to,” he warned.

Lifetime Recycling Village is currently crafting proposals for a closed-loop renewable energy facility in West Scotland that will recycle and remanufacture 1.5 million tonnes of mixed waste each year.

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