It’s the largest private employer in Auburn, with a 500,000-square-foot manufacturing facility to boot, so naturally you’d assume Tambrands is a pretty big contributor to local landfills. But you’d be wrong. Earlier this year, the Hotel Road plant, which produces nine million Tampax brand tampons per day, supplying the entire North American market for parent company Procter & Gamble, capped off a three-year project to become completely “landfill free.” Although the manufacturing facility creates 2,300 tons of waste annually, not one ounce

of it ends up in a landfill. Today, everything that once might have gone in the dumpster, to be buried and forgotten, is recycled, reused, or re-purposed.

In many ways, Tambrands is ahead of the curve. It beat 36 sister-plants on this continent to the waste-free punch, joining just eight in the global P&G family to achieve the first phase in a new, green initiative for a company which touches the lives of families around the world three billion times per day, with trusted brands like, Pampers diapers, Tide detergents, Bounty paper towels, Crest toothpaste and Duracell batteries.

Last September, Cincinnati-based P&G went one step further, announcing a long-term vision to power all of the 140 facilities

it owns worldwide with 100-percent renewable energy, while using 100-percent renewable or recycled materials in all of its products and packaging.

“These [goals] give value to waste, whereas waste that ends up in landfills has no value,” said P&G Global Supply Officer Keith Harrison. “As it relates to manufacturing waste, we want to ensure that over 99.5 percent of what enters our plants goes out the door as finished product or has some other beneficial end-of-life use by 2020.”

That’s not necessarily a money-making prospect for P&G. In fact, Tambrands Financial Manager David Bartage said

the company committed to the green project even though it expected to lose money.

The zero-landfill initiative did end up paying

for itself, thanks to recycling revenue, which offset increased transportation costs.

Still, long before anyone knew that might happen, all 450 Auburn employees jumped on board with the idea, spurred on by a greater motivation.

P&G’s commitment to community is evident from the top down. Since buying Tambrands in 1997, it has invested more than $350 million in operations here, adding nine production lines for its Tampax Pearl line (which now accounts for 30 percent of the tampon market) and creating jobs that, in terms of wages, benefits and working conditions are among the very best in Maine.As part of the green initiative, Tambrands launched a popular auction series in which employees bid on tools, office furniture and other equipment that once would have been tossed out. Proceeds from those auctions, which last year netted more than $10,000, are donated to the United Way.

“It’s win-win-win. The employees love it,” said Tambrands’ External Relations Manager Rick Malinowski.

The company achieved the balance of its zero-waste efforts via partnerships with area businesses, all facilitated by Sonoco Sustainability Solutions, of South Carolina. Used computers are donated to Ruth’s Reusable Resources, in Portland, while numerous product samples are given

to nearby Good Shepherd Food Bank. About 60 percent of the company’s remaining waste, including cardboard, plastics, metal and paper, is sent to recycling plants run

by Corcoran Environmental in Kennebunk and Mechanic Falls. The rest is sent to the Mid-Maine Waste Action Corp. plant in Auburn, where it is incinerated and converted to electricity.

Tambrands’ green project has meant new jobs for at least one local business Sonoco helped it to partner with. The Corcoran bailing unit in Mechanic Falls, which opened in July, 2010, now has nine employees. “We could not have justified opening it up at all had it not been for the Tambrands account,” said company co-owner, Nadja Corcoran.

“The interests of employees, the company and the local community are inseparable,” said P&G’s Tambrands plant manager, Felica Coney. P&G has often called its Auburn plant a “key” to the corporation’s success. Working toward a sustainable environment, the company said, is no less important

than its basic goal of bringing value to the lives of consumers.

“Even though we are zero-landfill, we don’t look at it like we’re done,” said P&G Tambrands Purchasing Agent Ken Bellefleur, who is credited with pulling a large part of the load on the green project, and who continues to seek end-users for a whole host of manufacturing by-products that now go to the incinerator. “In everything we do, we are always looking for better solutions.”

Tambrands, Inc. / P&G

2879 Hotel Road, Auburn, ME


Tampax division of worldwide, household-products maker Procter & Gamble, includes among its leaders (left to right): Site Engineer Gary Bair, Plant Manager Felica Coney, Facilities Leader Mark Dobransky, Purchasing Agent Ken Bellefleur, Environmental Leader Don Dallaire and Site Finance Leader David Bartage.

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