Did you know that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 8 men experience some form of bladder weakness during their lives - more common the hayfever? It’s hard to think of another health condition that is quite so prevalent, yet so misunderstood.
At TENA we’re committed to developing products and services that minimise the impact of incontinence on people’s everyday lives. In doing so, we recognise the many emotive issues around the condition. That’s why we want to share what we’ve learnt and help dispel the many myths and taboos that persist, even today.
For more information on the condition please visit www.tena.co.uk
With over 40 years experience, TENA is the worldwide leader in the management of incontinence, providing products and services for individuals and healthcare services throughout 90 countries.
As the established brand leader in Europe, we are also a growing brand in the USA and are now expanding into Central and Latin America, the Far East, India and other developing regions. We are at the forefront of developing products that meet the needs of individuals, carers, clinicians and healthcare services around the world.
TENA is owned by Essity. As well as TENA, Essity owns such well-known brands as Bodyform in feminine hygiene, as well as the Libero nappy brand.
Essity is a leading global hygiene and health company that develops, produces and sells Personal Care, Consumer Tissue and Professional Hygiene products and solutions. Sales are conducted in approximately 150 countries under many strong brands, including the leading global brands TENA and Tork, and other brands, such as Leukoplast, Libero, Libresse, Lotus, Nosotras, Saba, Tempo, Vinda and Zewa. Essity has about 48,000 employees and net sales in 2016 amounted to approximately SEK 101bn (EUR 10.7bn).
Our mission is clearly defined: to improve the lives of people living or working with bladder weakness or incontinence around the world.
As well as being surprisingly common, incontinence can be irrespective of age or overall health, often happening to people in the prime of their lives.
It may not be in itself an especially serious medical condition, but the perceived social taboo around incontinence can harm people’s social confidence. The ever-present fear of ‘an accident’ can make many of the things we take for granted – shopping, exercising, even lifting your child for a hug – seem daunting.
Without proper management of the condition, there’s a possibility that people experiencing incontinence may become withdrawn, denying themselves the very things they most enjoy in life.
TENA is dedicated to the idea that incontinence shouldn’t stop people from leading a full and happy life. This lies at the core of everything we do: whether we’re developing products and services, promoting best practice continence care within healthcare institutions or broadening public understanding.
In an ageing society it’s inevitable that increasing numbers require hands-on care either at home with their loved ones or in professional residential care. For care-giving relatives, incontinence care can be a physically, emotionally and economically demanding role. We want to provide the best advice, support and products we can to help them provide the best quality of life for themselves as well as the person they care for.
With TENA’s experience working with healthcare professionals, we continue to develop more effective products, services and educational materials that maximise patient care while also taking into account the needs of carers and the economic realities of large-scale healthcare provision.
Sustainability is defined as, ‘A development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. This is our guiding principle in all areas of our work with sustainability.Ref - Brundtlandt report “Our common future” (1987)
Essity exists for the purpose of creating value for the company’s shareholders, increasing the standard of living and quality of life of its employees and otherwise contributing to the economic, environmental and social well-being of customers, suppliers and the nations in which the company transacts business. Essity places strong emphasis on renewable and recyclable raw materials and strives to offer environmentally sound products and services. These must be capable of meeting customer and consumer needs with respect to functionality, economy, safety and environmental impact. Policy statements:
Times have changed and we’ve progressed in the way we think about our products and how they’re produced. To take a truly comprehensive view of a product, it’s necessary to take into consideration all the various stages of a product’s life cycle. This means we gather data from the very beginning of extraction of natural resources (e.g. oil, mining, forestry) and then include all the other factors of the product’s life cycle: its production; manufacturing; transport; use by the consumer; and disposal. By taking this comprehensive view, often called ‘from cradle-to-grave’, we avoid shifting the environmental burden from one part of the life cycle to another.
To study a product’s life cycle, we use a methodology called a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which is widely accepted both within the industry and by regulatory authorities. ISO standards 14040 to 14044 set up the principles and framework for how to perform an LCA.
LCA’s have been regularly performed on TENA products for more than ten years. In the early nineties, we started to develop an internal LCA database and now initiate an LCA for every new product as an integral part of the development process.
The results from all the LCA’s clearly show that the major environmental burden takes place in the production of raw materials. Consequently, it’s vital we use the materials in our products in the most efficient way, without compromising the function of the product and have a constant dialogue with our suppliers.
At Essity, we assess the environmental impact of all our products using the Life Cycle Assessment (see above). This gives a much wider perspective regarding a product’s environmental impact and also ensures that our development work is environmentally sound. The results from the LCA’s can be used for a type of environmental labelling called Environmental Product Declarations (EPD). An EPD is an international label based on the international standard ISO 14025. We also produce environmental fact sheets for all product groups, describing the product and its materials. Some of the data also comes from the LCA’s.
We believe that an effective logistics system is a vital part of our environmental policy. We constantly strive to develop and improve our logistics system by doing the following:
Packaging has to function well in order to keep the product’s integrity and fully maintain its properties. If a product is damaged and cannot be used, all the energy and efforts to produce it have gone to waste. In Europe, the ‘Packaging Directive’ sets a legislative standard that the packaging has to fulfil.
In most countries in Europe, the collection and recycling of packaging materials is the responsibility of the producer. Consequently, the company that puts the product and its packaging on the market is then financially responsible to make sure it’s recovered in the most environmentally efficient way. The collection and recovery is usually performed by non-profit organisations and symbolised by a logo on the package, such as the Green Dot.
Essity is committed to the Green Dot scheme in almost all countries in Europe. This means we’re an integral part of financing the recovery of our packaging materials. We also make sure that we fulfil the intentions of the ‘EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive’ through our product development, our choice of suppliers and choice of materials.
The TENA range of incontinence pads generally consist of the following materials: an absorbent core, which is a mix of fluff pulp and super absorbent polymer or SAP; a permeable non-woven layer; and a polyethylene film or a breathable barrier layer.
These layers are then glued together and different anti-leakage features are added including lengthwise elastic threads and waist elastics. There are also different ways of fixing the products with tapes, belts, hooks and loops.
Fluff pulp is made from wood and consists of cellulose fibres. It’s a renewable and biodegradable natural resource and normally represents more than half the weight of the product. All fluff pulp is bleached in order to achieve maximum absorbency and the bleaching process is Elementary Chlorine Free (ECF), consequently no chlorine gas is used.
The super absorbent polymer comes in the form of small white particles, which can absorb and hold very large amounts of urine. The chemistry of this polymer is a cross-linked polyacrylate and it is produced from oil.
The nonwoven layer is a thin textile-like material, the fibres of which can be fine, coarse, synthetic or natural. Nonwoven layers can be produced in several ways and in several surface-weight areas. TENA products mainly use two types of nonwoven layers, either spunbond or thermobond.
The polyethylene film acts as a fluid barrier in our hygiene products. The polyethylene film can be laminated with the nonwoven layer to form the textile backsheet in some of the TENA products.
The adhesives used to glue the components together are called ‘hotmelt’ and are blends of various polymers and resins. The resins we use are completely synthetic.
The elastic threads used in the TENA products are either made from polyisoprene or from polyurethane. Both materials are produced from oil or natural gas. Natural rubber threads are never used in TENA products.
We’ve developed all TENA products so they’re adaptable to any existing waste treatment method. Hygiene products only account for a low percentage of total waste handling and a separate waste treatment for disposable hygiene products is usually not environmentally beneficial.
Here is a short description of the most common waste treatment methods:
Landfill is still the most common way to treat household waste worldwide. Landfill has the potential to release greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide and methane) and it is the least desirable waste treatment option. Landfill is also a waste of resources as the materials that make up the used product are neither re-used nor recovered. Within Europe, legislation is now moving towards the phasing out of landfills.
The incineration and energy recovery of used products is certainly a preferred waste treatment option. 50% of a product is usually made up of fluff pulp, which counts as a biofuel. If this source of energy replaces fossil fuels, there is a clear environmental benefit. Our incontinence products do not contain any material or chemicals that could be the cause or formation of harmful emissions.
Firstly, we strongly advise against any home composting of used hygiene products because it involves the risk of spreading medical remnants and harmful microbial content (and it’s also illegal in some countries). In industrial composting, the recycling of used incontinence products is difficult. Removing the plastic content may mean having to install machinery and consequently increases the energy use. An alternative to composting is biogasification. This produces methane gas that can then be used for energy purposes.
The environmental impact of using disposable as opposed to reusable products has come up for discussion. Some comparisons have focused specifically on the impact of waste. However, the environmental impact of any product needs to be evaluated in the context of the product’s entire life cycle: from the use of raw materials, through manufacturing, product use and then disposal. Choosing a product on the basis of only one environmental criteria (such as solid waste), ignores the contribution of other important factors such as air and water pollution, or the continual use of energy.
In 2005, an LCA report was published in the UK comparing the environmental impact between cloth nappies and disposable products. The findings indicated there were no conclusive winners or losers from an environmental point of view. Both options cause emissions and use a mixture of energy, water, and raw materials. The study concluded that cloth nappies consume more water and produce more waterborne emissions than disposable nappies, which generate more solid waste and consume more raw materials.
The benefits of disposable products for both patients and institutions make the answer much clearer. Modern disposable products are highly absorbent with a very dry surface, which means a patient runs less risk of developing a skin irritation. They also help to minimise odours and reduce the need for laundering, and consequently lower the staff costs associated with managing incontinence in institutions.