Memorandum submitted by Proctor and Gamble
INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS TO WASTE MANAGEMENT
THE P&G APPROACH
Thank you for your letter of 29 January requesting
information specifically on our Pringles package but also more
generally P&G's approach to packaging and the environment.
We very much appreciate this opportunity to provide our perspective
particularly on P&G's wider approach to waste management.
We would more than welcome the opportunity to talk this topic
further with yourself or members of the committee. We have attached
an aide memoire for your consideration.
At the outset we would like to make the following
1. Others tell us that we are seen at the
forefront of global developments in looking into innovative ways
of dealing with the problems of the environmental consequences
of doing business. We have engineered our product and businesses
processes to operate in a manner that increasingly takes into
consideration the global impact of our operations. We were one
of the first practitioners to apply Life Cycle Analysis techniques
to our business operations and continue to refine this environmental
tool. We expand on this point in Annex 1. We have also been responsible
for developing the definitive academic and technical reference
text "Integrated Solid Waste Management; A Life Cycle Inventory
by . . . Mc Dougall". A copy will be sent under separate
cover (more are available on request).
2. Any food package needs to be viewed in
its entirety not just how to deal with the pack after it has been
used. The current Pringles package offers outstanding product
protection (physically and with regard to taste and safety), and
goes someway to allowing the use of food components with better
nutritional properties, facilitates reduced transport needs, reduced
product wastage and includes a significant use of recycled materials
eg the structural paper board tube and steel base are 100% recycled
material. All of these factors are presented in more detail in
3. With respect to packaging more generally,
its prime function is to deliver our products in a condition and
a quality that meets or exceeds consumer expectations and ensures
that the product reaches our consumers in a safe condition. The
second function of packaging is to inform the consumer about the
product, both visually and textually at the point of purchase
4. Please be assured that we do look carefully
at all our manufacture, packaging, transport and disposal to determine
what environmental impact it has and whether we can reduce that
impact. You will of course be aware for consumer goods manufacturers,
there is a constant challenge to reconcile perfect product integritytransit,
handling, shelf display, with minimal packagingit is of
course in our own commercial interests to remove unnecessary and
wasteful packaging. As you might expect we are also members of
Valpack and as such we are already paying for the collection and
recycling of our packaging in the UK.
Proctor and Gamble
14 February 2003
Life Cycle Assessment and Integrated Waste
Management: The Future of Waste Management
This is an aide memoir setting out some background
in respect of our track record on waste management. We set out
the principles behind Life Cycle Assessment and Integrated Waste
Managementtwo processes that P&G have helped to pioneer.
We hope this note is of help to members of the committee.
Procter & Gamble (P&G) is concerned
with solid waste as most of our packages and some of our product
enters the solid waste stream. As a responsible global consumer
products company we take the consequences of our operation extremely
seriously and believe what we do needs to be sustainable for the
environment, the economy and socially. We invest considerable
funds into constantly seeking improvements in the design and manufacture
of our own products, and were one of the first practioners to
apply life cycle analysis techniques to our operations and we
continue to refine this practice. In addition we have been working
with others in many countries to help develop improved Integrated
Waste Management systems that are environmentally effective, economically
affordable and socially acceptable. As part of this, P&G has
set up a Global Integrated Solid Waste Management Team, made up
of its experts around the world to promote effective integrated
systems for municipal solid waste.
Solid waste management systems need to ensure
human health and safety. They must be safe for workers and safeguard
public health by preventing the spread of disease. In addition
to these prerequisites, a sustainable system for solid waste management
mustin our viewbe environmentally effective, economically
affordable and socially acceptable.
Minimising cost, and reducing any environmental
burden simultaneously is clearly a challenge and will always lead
to trade-off between these drivers.
Waste reduction is the first objective of a
sustainable waste management system followed by sustainable management
of the remaining waste. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an environmental
management tool that attempts to predict the overall environmental
burden of a product, service or function, and can be equally applied
to waste management systems, where it can be used to predict likely
environmental burdens. By selecting appropriate options for dealing
with the various fractions of solid waste the environmental burdens
of the whole waste management system can be reduced.
Integrated Waste Management (IWM) systems combine
waste streams, waste collection, treatment and disposal methods,
with the objective of achieving environmental benefits, economic
optimisation and societal acceptability.
The Key features of IWM are:
uses a range of collection and treatment
handles all materials in the waste
is socially acceptable.
"Integrated Waste Management" is a
term that has been frequently applied but rarely defined. We have
tried to provide a wider explanation of these two important principals
behind our overall approach to waste management. We believe it
is best defined as a system for waste management that has control
All types of solid waste materials.
The alternative of focusing on specific materials, either because
of their ready recyclability (eg aluminium) or their public profile
(eg plastics) is likely to be less effective, in both environmental
and economic terms, than taking a multi-material approach.
All sources of solid waste. Wastes
such as domestic, commercial, industrial, institutional, construction
and agricultural. Hazardous waste needs to be dealt with within
the system, but in a separate stream. Focusing on the source of
a material (on packaging or domestic waste or industrial waste)
is likely to be less productive than focusing on the nature of
the material, regardless of its source.
An integrated system would include an optimised
waste collection system and efficient sorting, followed by one
or more of the following options:
Materials recycling will require
access to reprocessing facilities.
Biological treatment of organic materials
will ideally produce marketable compost and also reduce volumes
for disposal. Anaerobic digestion produces methane that can be
burned to release energy.
Thermal treatment (incineration with
energy recovery). This will reduce volume, render residues inert
and should include energy recovery.
Landfill. A process that can increase
amenity via land reclamation but a well engineered site will at
least minimise pollution/loss of amenity.
To manage all solid waste arisings in an environmentally
effective way requires a range of the above treatment options.
Landfill is the only method that can manage all waste alone; since
recycling, composting and thermal treatment all leave some residual
material that needs to be landfilled. In a landfill the organic
fraction of solid waste can be broken down if the appropriate
conditions for the growth of aerobic and then anaerobic bacteria
occur. These relatively uncontrolled biological processes can
take several years to start in a landfill and continue many decades
after the landfill has been closed. Methane emissions arise from
the breakdown of organic material and groundwater pollution may
occur due to leaching of toxic materials from the solid waste.
Landfilling operations also require large amounts of space. Use
of the other options prior to landfilling can both recycle and
recover significant parts of the waste stream and reduce the volume
and improve the physical and chemical stability of the residue.
This will reduce both the space requirement and the environmental
burdens of the landfill.
Any scheme that incorporates materials recycling,
biological or thermal treatment technologies must recognise that
effective recycling of materials and production of compost and
energy depends on markets for these outputs. These markets are
likely to be sensitive to price and to consistency in quality
and quantity of supply. Managers of such schemes will need to
play their part in building markets for their outputs, working
with secondary material processors, and helping set material quality
standards. They must also recognise that such markets and needs
will change over time, so such standards should not be rigid and
based in prescriptive legislation, but be set as part of a customer-supplier
An effective scheme will need the flexibility
to design, adapt and operate its systems in ways which best meet
current social, economic and environmental conditions. These will
likely change over time and vary by geography. Using a range of
waste management options in an integrated system gives the flexibility
to channel waste via different treatments as economic or environmental
conditions change. For example, paper can be recycled, composted
or incinerated with energy recovery. The option used can be varied
according to the economics of paper recycling, compost production
or energy supply at the time.
The need for consistency in quality and quantity
of recycled materials, compost or energy, the need to support
a range of management options, and the benefit of economies of
scale, all suggest that Integrated Waste Management should be
organised on a large-scale, regional basis.
For a waste management system to operate effectively
public participation is necessary. Whether simply putting bins
by the kerbside for collection on the correct day, taking paper
or glass to street side recycling containers or sorting out all
recyclable material from their household waste, individuals must
understand their role in the waste management system and co-operate
with the local authorities for the system to work. Low participation
rates in recycling schemes can be improved by communication strategies
and objections to waste management facility siting can be minimised
by public consultation and education.
The current best example of an Integrated approach
to waste management in the UK is Project Integra in Hampshire
which was awarded Beacon Council status for 2000-01. Hampshire
achieved a collective recycling rate of over 25% (2000-01), with
over 90% of households having access to a kerbside collection
of recyclables. Hampshire's target: to recycle 40% of household
waste by 2005 is very likely to be achieved ahead of schedule.
Significant time, effort and financial investment has been made
to develop the Integrated Waste Management system in Hampshire
(and more waste treatment facilities will come on line over the
next few years further improving the overall performance of the
County) but this will ensure that the County can provide a truly
sustainable waste management system to its residents for the foreseeable
This example clearly shows what can be achieved
when an Integrated approach to waste management is adopted.
An Integrated approach to waste management that
takes a holistic approach has three main advantages for society:
It gives the overall picture of the
waste management process. Such a view is essential for strategic
planning by local authorities, waste management businesses and
waste producers. Handling of each waste stream separately is inefficient.
Environmentally, all waste management
systems are part of the same systemthe global ecosystem.
Looking at the overall environmental burden of the system is the
only rational approach, otherwise reductions in the environmental
burdens of one part of the process may result in greater environmental
To underpin long-term success, each
individual unit in the waste management chain should run at a
profit, or at least break-even. Within the boundaries controlled
by each operator, the financial incomes must at least match the
outgoings. By looking at the wider boundaries of the whole system,
it is possible to determine whether the whole system operates
efficiently and whether it could run at break-even, or even at
a profit. Only then can all the constituent parts be viable, provided
that income is divided up in relation to costs.
An Integrated approach to waste management (IWM)
and the use of LCA tools (such as those developed by the UK Environment
Agency and the US Environmental Protection Agency) can help the
UK develop sustainable waste management. We stand ready to play
The primary purpose of any food and beverage
packaging is to deliver product of the highest quality in terms
of safety and taste. The pack also has a secondary function of
communicating with the consumer what the product is without them
needing to try it. The Pringles pack has evolved over 25 years
to achieve these objectives.
The Pringles pack is a recycled paperboard tube
with a paper liner and foil liner (Aluminium foil + polyethylene)
to provide an oxygen permeable barrier and prevent migration of
unwanted components from the pack to the food. The tube also has
an outer paper liner for printing the label. It has a recycled
steel base, a peelable foil seal (aluminium and Polyethylene)
and a polyethylene cap to re-seal the pack once it is opened.
The pack is comparable to commonly used Tetra-Pak
The physical properties of the Pringles tube
are specifically designed to facilitate packing of our stacked
crispas well as protecting its physical integrity during
transport and storage. Broken crisps are a big concern to snack
consumers and we have found the current design to offer appropriate
protection against product breakage. In addition the pack is distributed
globallywhich reduces manufacturing ouputsand has
to protect the product across the range of conditions from a Siberian
winter to a Saudi summer this clearly puts technical pressure
(literally) on the pack integrity. Typical breakage levels in
bagged snacks are 60-70% compared to only 11% with Pringles.
The Pringles tube provides an oxygen barrier
preventing migration of oxygen or moisture into the pack. The
level of protection is significantly greater than all other snack
packaging we have tested. The product is packed under nitrogen
to exclude oxygen from the pack. This significantly improves the
product stability by reducing the oxidation of the fats in the
product. Oxidation of fats in savoury snacks leads to stale flavours,
typically damp or rancid. The product protection offered by this
system not only means the shelf life of the product is extended
for the consumer but also has some important nutritional benefits.
The exclusion of oxygen from the pack during
packing and the oxygen barrier, actually allows the use of less
saturated vegetable oils during product manufacture. Without this
exclusion higher levels of saturated fats or trans fatty acids
would need to be used. The process we use allows us to use a healthier
vegetable oil with higher mono-unsaturates and poly-unsaturates
than we would otherwise be the case.
The Pringles tube allows us to produce a very
compact product. A 200g Pringles tube contains the same quantity
of product that would be found in approximately eight standard
crisp packs. On a volume basis this equates to approximately a
four-fold difference between Pringles and a bagged snack. Therefore
the pack volume is substantially smaller than an equivalent number
conventionally bagged snacks. This provides significant environmental
and economic benefits. Environmental benefits come from the smaller
number of lorries needed to transport the product and the consequent
reductions in fossil fuel usage, exhaust emissions and vehicles
on the road. This also facilitates a more economical transport
system ultimately reducing costs for consumers. There are also
significant reductions in storage costs at our manufacturing site,
distributor warehouses and retail outlets. Calculation of the
transport energy differences between the Pringles can and conventionally
bagged snacks indicate that the Pringles can costs just over 2000
MJ of energy per metric tonne of product shipped 1,000 km versus
5,000-7,000 for a conventionally bagged product, ie 2.5-3.5 times
lower for the Pringles can.
Due to the protection offered by the pack this
allows an 18 month shelf life for the product. Typically conventionally
bagged snacks have a far higher proportion of waste product due
to the relatively short shelf life of these products. In small
outlets in particular such as pubs and corner shops this can be
high. The long shelf life of Pringles eliminates most of this
wastage due to out of date stock which has consequent environmental
implications through reduced waste of raw materials, product manufacture,
packaging, transport, etc. The re-sealable nature of the pack
allowing the product to be consumed over 10 days after opening
also significantly reduces consumer wastage post-purchase.
Due to the design of the pack it is possible
to use recycled packaging material without compromising the safety
of the food product inside. Clearly particular care needs to be
taken with the food contact materials which is why the inner liner
is of virgin material. However, because of the protective nature
of this liner we can and do use recycled paperboard in the tube
and recycled steel for the base. Clearly extending the use of
recycled materials in a safe way, as adopted for the Pringles
can, utilises recycled material. By doing this we help create
a self-financing market in pack material recycling. Very few other
food packs are able to use recycled packaging.
It is possible to recycle the Pringles can when
appropriate facilities exist. The can is largely comparable to
a Tetra-pak with the addition of a steel base. The pack has a
high energy value and can be readily incinerated to recover the
energy from this pack. The steel base being extractable after
the incineration process using magnetic separation from the ash.
The pack can also be recycled at recycling mills provided they
have the appropriate system in place. The inner liner can be separated
from the board in the re-pulping process (recycling occurs in
Germany). Unfortunately the UK does not currently have the infrastructure
to effectively recycle these types of packs although a mill has
recently opened in Scotland. Like most household waste the majority
of cans still go to landfill wasting this potentially valuable
resource and will behave like any other paperboard pack in the
landfill environment. The Pringles pack is an extremely small
part of the waste stream.