Sustainability is defined as, ‘A development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. This is our guiding principle in all areas of our work with sustainability.Ref - Brundtlandt report “Our common future” (1987)
SCA exists for the purpose of creating value for the company’s shareholders, increasing the standard of living and quality of life of its employees and otherwise contributing to the economic, environmental and social well-being of customers, suppliers and the nations in which the company transacts business. SCA places strong emphasis on renewable and recyclable raw materials and strives to offer environmentally sound products and services. These must be capable of meeting customer and consumer needs with respect to functionality, economy, safety and environmental impact. Policy statements:
Times have changed and we’ve progressed in the way we think about our products and how they’re produced. To take a truly comprehensive view of a product, it’s necessary to take into consideration all the various stages of a product’s life cycle. This means we gather data from the very beginning of extraction of natural resources (e.g. oil, mining, forestry) and then include all the other factors of the product’s life cycle: its production; manufacturing; transport; use by the consumer; and disposal. By taking this comprehensive view, often called ‘from cradle-to-grave’, we avoid shifting the environmental burden from one part of the life cycle to another.
To study a product’s life cycle, we use a methodology called a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which is widely accepted both within the industry and by regulatory authorities. ISO standards 14040 to 14044 set up the principles and framework for how to perform an LCA.
LCA’s have been regularly performed on TENA products for more than ten years. In the early nineties, we started to develop an internal LCA database and now initiate an LCA for every new product as an integral part of the development process.
The results from all the LCA’s clearly show that the major environmental burden takes place in the production of raw materials. Consequently, it’s vital we use the materials in our products in the most efficient way, without compromising the function of the product and have a constant dialogue with our suppliers.
At SCA, we assess the environmental impact of all our products using the Life Cycle Assessment (see above). This gives a much wider perspective regarding a product’s environmental impact and also ensures that our development work is environmentally sound. The results from the LCA’s can be used for a type of environmental labelling called Environmental Product Declarations (EPD). An EPD is an international label based on the international standard ISO 14025. We also produce environmental fact sheets for all product groups, describing the product and its materials. Some of the data also comes from the LCA’s.
We believe that an effective logistics system is a vital part of our environmental policy. We constantly strive to develop and improve our logistics system by doing the following:
Packaging has to function well in order to keep the product’s integrity and fully maintain its properties. If a product is damaged and cannot be used, all the energy and efforts to produce it have gone to waste. In Europe, the ‘Packaging Directive’ sets a legislative standard that the packaging has to fulfil.
In most countries in Europe, the collection and recycling of packaging materials is the responsibility of the producer. Consequently, the company that puts the product and its packaging on the market is then financially responsible to make sure it’s recovered in the most environmentally efficient way. The collection and recovery is usually performed by non-profit organisations and symbolised by a logo on the package, such as the Green Dot.
SCA is committed to the Green Dot scheme in almost all countries in Europe. This means we’re an integral part of financing the recovery of our packaging materials. We also make sure that we fulfil the intentions of the ‘EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive’ through our product development, our choice of suppliers and choice of materials.
The TENA range of incontinence pads generally consist of the following materials: an absorbent core, which is a mix of fluff pulp and super absorbent polymer or SAP; a permeable non-woven layer; and a polyethylene film or a breathable barrier layer.
These layers are then glued together and different anti-leakage features are added including lengthwise elastic threads and waist elastics. There are also different ways of fixing the products with tapes, belts, hooks and loops.
We’ve developed all TENA products so they’re adaptable to any existing waste treatment method. Hygiene products only account for a low percentage of total waste handling and a separate waste treatment for disposable hygiene products is usually not environmentally beneficial.
The environmental impact of using disposable as opposed to reusable products has come up for discussion. Some comparisons have focused specifically on the impact of waste. However, the environmental impact of any product needs to be evaluated in the context of the product’s entire life cycle: from the use of raw materials, through manufacturing, product use and then disposal. Choosing a product on the basis of only one environmental criteria (such as solid waste), ignores the contribution of other important factors such as air and water pollution, or the continual use of energy.
In 2005, an LCA report was published in the UK comparing the environmental impact between cloth nappies and disposable products. The findings indicated there were no conclusive winners or losers from an environmental point of view. Both options cause emissions and use a mixture of energy, water, and raw materials. The study concluded that cloth nappies consume more water and produce more waterborne emissions than disposable nappies, which generate more solid waste and consume more raw materials.
The benefits of disposable products for both patients and institutions make the answer much clearer. Modern disposable products are highly absorbent with a very dry surface, which means a patient runs less risk of developing a skin irritation. They also help to minimise odours and reduce the need for laundering, and consequently lower the staff costs associated with managing incontinence in institutions.