Procter & Gamble Announces New Diapers, Composting Commitment Graphic
CINCINNATI (AP) _ Procter & Gamble Co. said Tuesday it will spend $20 million to encourage construction of waste composting plants, and is developing a disposable diaper that breaks down totally by going through such a process.
Edwin L. Artzt, the company’s chairman and chief executive, said P&G’s main interest in the project is providing initiative to help resolve the problem of mounting garbage and limited landfill space. He said he hopes the new diaper will be successful, but said the environmental goal outweighs P&G’s profit interest in the undertaking.
He maintained the project is not intended to silence critics who complain that disposable diapers made by P&G and other companies are helping to fill up crowded landfill space.
Bans or taxes on disposable diapers were considered in as many as 20 states this year. Nebraska, for one, has effectively banned the sale of non- degradable diapers starting in 1993.
″We’re really not in this to gain competitive advantage. We’re in this to clean up the environment. ... This is a very big and very serious problem, and I think we all ought to be working together to solve it,″ Artzt told reporters before P&G’s annual meeting of shareholders Tuesday at the company’s Cincinnati headquarters.
P&G’s Pampers- and Luvs-brand diapers claim about 50 percent of the $3.5 billion disposable diaper business. Kimberly-Clark Corp., the other major diaper maker, claims about 33 percent of the market with its Huggies brand.
Artzt said he considers the $20 million commitment a research budget to promote municipal use of waste composting plants. Those plants can turn grass, leaves, food scraps and paper waste into compost material suitable for land reclamation and fertilizer for farmland. P&G would consider committing more money if needed, he said.
P&G said the money will be used to advance compost research and to encourage cities in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan to consider establishing compost plants.
The company said it is also continuing an experiment in the Seattle, Wash., market with recyclable disposable diapers and will continue trying to reduce the amount of packaging on its products. P&G, which had $24.1 billion in worldwide sales for the fiscal year ended June 30, makes and sells personal- care products, food and beverage items, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and other products.
Artzt declined to say how much Procter & Gamble expects in profits from the new diaper, which is to be marketed starting next year. He would not say where the diaper will be tested.
He also declined to say whether P&G will share the diaper technology with competitors as part of P&G’s environmental initiative.
Nancy Eddy, P&G’s associate director of paper products, said the company has not yet selected the material it will use to replace the plastic backsheet that prevents P&G’s current disposable diapers from being 100 percent compatible for breakdown in compost plants. She said P&G aims to market a disposable diaper that can be broken down completely into carbon dioxide, water and compost material. The breakdown cycle takes three to 14 days.
P&G officials said 200 compost plants are already in use in Europe and 10 are operating in the United States, with another 150 in various stages of development. The largest plants can handle up to 800 tons of garbage a day, using heat of up to 160 degrees to break down organic wastes after glass, plastic and metal wastes are separated for recycling.
The plants can cost up to $20 million each, including property costs, Ms. Eddy said.