Procter’s Answer to the Green Movement

By Karen Bitz McIntyre, Editor | March 18, 2010

This month, Procter & Gamble begins shipping its latest diaper innovation—Pampers with DryMax technology—in the U.S.

The new diaper design, hailed as one of the most significant diaper redesigns ever, features nearly no fluff pulp in its core and relies on more superabsorbent material to deliver the same absorbency as previous generation diapers. As a result, Procter is able to offer a diaper that is 20% thinner without sacrificing performance one iota. This effort, which required a significant change in how the diaper is made, is Procter’s answer to the sustainability trend gripping the industry. By eliminating most of its fluff pulp—save a small amount of curly fibers—and thinning the diaper, the company will lessen the brand’s impact on global warming and other key environmental indicators and lessen the amount of material going into landfills by about one billion diapers within three years.

Describing Pampers Swaddlers and Cruisers with DryMax as the “dryest diaper ever,” Procter’s CEO Bob McDonald recently discussed the upgrade at the Consumer Analysts Group of New York conference in Boca Raton, FL. “DryMax is the most significant performance design, in my opinion, since the launch of the Pampers brand,” he said.

The thinner design not only makes the diaper more comfortable for the baby, it also offers performance benefits to create a better value for parents. From a retailer standpoint, the thinner design and smaller package mean less shelf space and lower freight costs. Meanwhile, the environmental benefits respond to Procter’s goal of increasing its sustainability efforts. “Everybody wins with this product,” Mr. McDonald said.

Procter first announced its plans to revamp the diaper design within its premium Baby Stages of Development line late last year and since then the global hygiene industry has eagerly awaited its launch, keen on determining whether or not these new diapers perform as well as Procter claims. If they do—and most agree that Procter wouldn’t be making this change if they didn’t—it will not only change the raw material ratio within the global diaper industry, creating more demand for superabsorbents and less for fluff pulp.

Perhaps, more importantly, the new design could be a successful weapon in the disposable diaper industry’s fight against cloth diaper advocates who claim that disposable diapers clog landfills and aid in global warming. While there have been a number of environmentally friendly disposable diaper options launched in recent years—the latest coming from Kimberly-Clark with its Pure & Natural diaper line— these have been presented as an alternative buying choice targeted at consumers who care enough about the environment to pay more for diapers. Procter’s innovation is the first change to an existing, widelyused, diaper brand, that will impact the entire diaper industry and its value chain.

Karen McIntyre

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