Kimberly-Clark Corp. is using 20 percent recycled high density polyethylene in some of its consumer goods packaging and plans to roll out additional packaging with recycled content later this year.
The packaging for the company's Scott's shop towels had been using 20 percent recycled HDPE since last year, and the packaging for its Wypall wiper rags and cleaning wipes will start using 20 percent HDPE, most likely in late April, said Peter Clark, a product and technology development scientist for the Neenah, Wis., company in an interview at the Global Plastics Environmental Conference of the Society of Plastics Engineers, held Feb. 26-27 in Orlando.
The packaging carries a small message on the back panel that it contains 20 percent post-consumer resin.
Clark also said the company would roll out another environmentally positioned line in personal-care applications with 20 percent recycled content in May.
From a life-cycle analysis approach, this is a small step in the right direction from the standpoint of greenhouse-gas and carbon-dioxide emissions, Clark said.
For the most part, the addition of recycled resins to the packaging for those products has been cost-neutral, he said. There has been a slight savings in one sector, but most of it is parity in cost, he said. But if we can do it at parity or less, it improves our corporate citizenship.
Kimberly-Clark first ventured into the use of recycled content in 2007 with packaging containing 10 percent HDPE for a bath tissue product line for a business it has since divested.
We tested and evaluated many post-consumer resins, but they were unsuccessful for thin-film applications, said Clark. But we found an HDPE PCR at the quantity and quality we needed. We put in the most amount of PCR and still keep the same specifications.
Clark said that, at this point, there are some limitations with using recycled HDPE because of gel imperfections and print-quality limitations.