Environment and sustainability

We care...

Euron® is committed to sustainable business practices which are seen to be integral to good corporate governance. Having won the “Better Environment Award for Industry” in 1996, we have continued to demonstrate our commitment to the environment through our activities and product development.

Euron® specifies that its own activities and those of its suppliers meet both environmental codes of practice and codes of fair and ethical conduct.

Ontex International and its two production plants in Belgium, Buggenhout and Eeklo, produce Euron® products. Both have successfully introduced an ISO 14001 certified Environmental Management System based on the following principles:

  1. Continuous search for improvement and minimization of the impact of its activities on the environment, giving particular consideration to the following areas:

    1. Waste management
    2. Electricity consumption
    3. Transport Efficiency
    4. Packaging optimisation
    5. New product design (eco-range) / weight reduction
  2. Ongoing search for ways to minimise the effect of our products on the environment after use
  3. Working in partnership with our suppliers to achieve the sustainable use of natural resources, raw materials and energy.

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)

Ontex uses LCA as a key tool in providing a complete picture of the environmental impact of a product over its life cycle. This analysis can then be used to either make an informed decision on selecting a specific product, or identifying processes where environmental improvements can be made.

Ontex focuses on a cradle-to-grave approach, which is the full LCA from manufacture ('cradle') through to use and finally disposal ('grave'). All inputs and outputs are considered for each phase of the life cycle.

Ontex is also continuously searching for new developments to improve LCA with particular emphasis on recycling and energy recuperation from our products after use. These processes create valuable new resources from waste materials.

Key Environmental Impacts

As part of the introduction of the Environmental Management System, Ontex has identified its key environmental aspects:

Sourcing of fluff pulp

Fluff pulp is the main raw material in our products, used for the formation of the absorbent core. Product development has enabled us to drastically reduce the amount of fluff used in our production processes. We currently use approx. 200,000 tonnes of fluff pulp, all of which is sourced from sustainable forests, where more trees are planted than are felled.

In summary:

  • Ontex continues to reduce the total quantity of fluff in its products.
  • All fluff pulp used within Ontex products comes from suppliers who subscribe to responsible sourcing programs such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® and the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC).

    Sustainable Forestry Iniative Logo
    Ontex has obtained SFI® sourcing certification

  • One of the key priorities of Ontex is to make sure only wood from well-managed forests is used with respect for the applicable regulations, water quality and important habitat elements for wildlife.

Energy consumption

Apart from the numerous raw materials, Ontex machinery requires quite an important electricity consumption rate (> 200 GWh in 2008)

Although an important part of the used electricity is originating from nuclear power sources (low carbon foot print), we consider the electricity consumption as an important eco-efficiency parameter (economical / ecological). As such we have determined electricity consumption as one of our KPI’s to measure. To lower the cost of our activities and their environmental impact, Ontex has an action plan running in every single plant to bring electricity consumption down to a lower level.

Apart from this Ontex has obtained certificates for its two Belgian production plants, in which is stated that they are running exclusively on energy from renewable resources. As part of this project Ontex Ontex Healthcare headquarters in Buggenhout has deployed a huge number of solar panels on top of its major warehouses. All other plants are looking as well actively, whether they can install (additional) solar panels on top of some of their buildings.

Transport activities

Ontex is an assembling company, which means that big batches of raw materials are coming in every day to be converted to voluminous products with lots of air inside. All these products are transported again by truck mainly within Europe. Truck transport is recognised as a major source of CO2 emission and smut, additionally fuel for trucks is one of the key elements causing the depletion of natural sources of oil. As such we recognise transport as a key environmental aspect.

Although it is not possible today to switch to alternative transportation means, Ontex wants to limit the impact of its activities by optimised packaging solutions, compacter products and an optimised ‘truck fill factor’. Ontex currently designs a KPI to measure the environmental impact of its transport activities and the impact of different corrective actions taken.

At the same time we try to work out certain projects with our suppliers to optimise transport from their side to our plants.

Energy Recuperation

Within Ontex Buggenhout a first special energy recuperation unit was installed in 1996. A modern version of this installation became operational in 2000. The idea of this unit is to recuperate part of the mixed waste fraction (PE/PP/fluff/ PES), which is less interesting to be recycled by an external company. This waste fraction will first be compressed into combustible pellets, which will be incinerated in a multistage oven. Due to the high caloric value of the plastics, the incineration warmth can be used to heath all premises during winter and cool (with an inverse process) all premises during summer. Due to a sophisticated system of flue gas treatment, the impact of this process is less than with a traditional heating system.

Research and Development

Ontex invests large sums of money in innovation to further improve the comfort of our products, increase quality and further reduce environmental burden, in accordance with the three pillars of sustainability (Social / Economic / Ecologic)

In the past 40 years, big improvements in society can be attributed to the availability of disposable sanitary products. Women can actively participate, without hindrance to the workforce. Patients suffering from incontinence are no longer stuck at home, but can keep their dignity and be active. And baby rash is nearly a thing of the past.

Performance is measured as how well does the product keep the skin dry and healthy. This determines the usage quantity and fit for purpose. No point having a product with very low environmental footprint if it does not perform properly. Non performing products end up having far worse environmental footprint as the users have to use so many more of them.

Eco-efficiency (economic / ecologic) is one of today’s key drivers in all Euron® R&D projects. This approach should enable us to deliver high performance products at an acceptable price with a clear advantage towards the environment. It will lower the carbon foot print of our products by a reduced total weight (thinner products), reduced transport and a limited use of raw materials.

All of this is a key pillar of our current business and will be a major factor in the future success of our entire business.

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