This year, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, became one of six SC Johnson manufacturing sites that successfully achieved zero manufacturing waste to landfill status. The company's manufacturing sites in Toluca, Mexico; Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; Rosslyn, South Africa; Kiev, Ukraine; and Nairobi, Kenya, went a step further in 2017 and reached zero waste to landfill status—sending no waste at all, including waste from cafeterias and office buildings, to landfill.
"Our journey to zero waste to landfill is just part of our longstanding commitment to being a leader in sustainability and to serving the greater good," said Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson. "I'm proud of the hard work of SC Johnson people at our manufacturing plants all around the globe who have stepped up to help protect the environment for future generations, even in places where it wasn't easy."
SC Johnson has pledged to have all manufacturing sites send no waste to landfill by 2021. Five years ago, five of SC Johnson's sites were zero manufacturing waste to landfill. Today, 17 SC Johnson sites are zero manufacturing waste to landfill and 14 of those sites are zero waste to landfill. Accomplishing this goal requires ingenuity on the part of SC Johnson people in countries where recycling practices are just getting underway, or not an option at all. Some sites compost food waste to be used for landscaping; at others, wastewater is treated for use as fertilizer in parks and other natural spaces.
In Nairobi, Kenya, for example, it is not customary for people to segregate waste, because recycling and the infrastructure required are not widespread. People at the site were trained to separate waste into specially-marked containers and educated on the benefits of waste management. The site is now zero waste to landfill.
SC Johnson searches for all possible ways to eliminate waste that could otherwise be sent to landfills and follows a principled, targeted approach that includes reusing, industrial recycling, on-site wastewater treatment and composting. However, when these options are not possible, it considers incineration, or burning the waste, much of which recovers heat energy from the process. Incineration can present less of a long-term environmental impact compared to landfilling, especially in countries where landfills are unregulated, and particularly if the methane that landfills produce cannot be controlled or captured for energy.
"When you look at other landfills outside of industrialized nations, there is some concern about landfill management," said Kelly M. Semrau, senior vice president, global corporate affairs, communication and sustainability at SC Johnson. "If we haven't yet found a way to eliminate or divert waste, incineration provides better control and better technology than the long-term risk of landfilling."