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Huggies announces mission to “eliminate” plastic in baby wipes

Huggies has become the first leading baby wipe brand to announce plans to completely eliminate plastic from its baby wipe range in the UK over the next five years.

14.8 billion baby wipes are used in the UK every year, equating to 468 every second – many of which contain a significant amount of plastic.

Huggies says it already uses up to 50% less plastic in its wipes than other leading brands but is now going “even further” to help remove 50 tonnes of plastic from its products by the end of 2019 alone. This includes removing “excess packaging” from inside larger multipacks (12 and 18 packs) – equivalent to 43 tonnes of plastic per year; and by removing 17 tonnes of plastic per year from the Huggies Extra Care range through innovative product development.

In addition, the brand, which is part of WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact, is aiming to be the first leading baby wipe brand to clearly label the plastic content of its wipes on pack.

The changes, which will be introduced this year, form part of a long-term strategy to eliminate plastic in Huggies wipes.

We know that parents are becoming more environmentally conscious, but we also know that they need an affordable and convenient solution that is gentle on their baby’s skin

Over the next five years, the brand willlaunch new 100% recyclable packaging across the Huggies portfolio, which can be recycled at large supermarkets with film and carrier bags (next year); and transition to a “fully sustainable wipe” and packaging portfolio (over the next five years).

The company has embarked on a new action plan, working with world-leading universities and environmental organisations to develop a fully sustainable alternative over the next five years.

Ori Ben Shai, vice president & managing director Kimberly-Clark UK, said: “We know that parents are becoming more environmentally conscious, but we also know that they need an affordable and convenient solution that is gentle on their baby’s skin.

“We’ve already made headway and are proud to offer an alternative which has a lower environmental impact than other leading brands, but we won’t stop until we have found a fully sustainable solution as we believe no parent should have to compromise between caring for their baby and caring for the environment.

“Whilst we work on this solution, parents can make a difference today by switching to Huggies and reducing their plastic usage by the equivalent of 63 plastic bottles a year.”

Essential

A new YouGov study commissioned by Huggies has found 85% of UK parents use on average 24 baby wipes a day, which amounts to a whopping 8,760 wipes every year.

Almost all respondents (97%) view baby wipes as an important essential of their daily childcare routine due to the fact they are convenient (83%), easy to use (77%), and low cost (44).

Despite being aware of the environmental factors, parents continue to rely on baby wipes every day. The health of their baby’s skin is the main priority for over two-thirds of parents, with ‘gentle on skin’ or ‘safe on skin’ being the most important factors when choosing a baby wipe, closely followed by affordability.

Four in five parents are worried about the impact that baby wipes have on the environment, however the majority (73%) have not switched to an environmentally friendly product in the last year.

However, only 34% of those surveyed cited ‘environmentally friendly’ as a key factor when choosing a wipe.

Four in five parents are worried about the impact that baby wipes have on the environment, however the majority (73%) have not switched to an environmentally friendly product in the last year.

This is due to three main barriers: cost (49%), lack of knowledge about environmentally friendly baby wipes (37%) and availability of sustainable options (30%).

Whilst focusing on the monumental operational challenges it faces, Huggies is calling upon consumers to pledge their support for the Huggies ‘Tiniest Footprint’ mission by taking three tiny steps of their own:

  • Never flush baby wipes
  • Recycle all multipack packaging where possible (packs of 3, 4, 12 and 18 wipes)
  • Reduce plastic use by choosing Huggies over leading brands.