Sustainable healthcare case study: Paper towel composting by Auckland DHB

Tuesday 01 November 2022

The Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) oversees three hospitals and several community health centres. As a GGHH Pacific member, ADHB is focusing on tackling waste by partnering with Asaleo Care and Supertrash to compost paper towels instead of sending them to landfill.

The problem

ADHB uses roughly 150 tonnes of paper towels annually. Compostable products don't break down in landfill. They can only be composted in dedicated composting facilities. Through composting paper towels, there was an opportunity to reduce waste being sent to landfill and meet the goals of ADHB’s Sustainability Strategy.


  • Reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill
  • Establish a circular economy pilot for paper towel composting

The process

A four-month long pilot project was implemented to divert paper towels from landfill, and instead sent for composting. Dedicated bins for paper towels appeared at the hospital. Supertrash (Auckland-based compost, recycling and rubbish collection service) managed the logistics of handling the paper towel, before being sent to Asaleo Care (hygiene and personal care product provider) who composted the paper towel and distributed it to farms in New Zealand.

The outcome

Over the four-month pilot:

  • 1,253kg of paper towels were diverted from landfill and composted
  • Composting the paper towels reduced 231kg of CO2eq/t, including manufacturing and transport
  • This saved 13% emissions compared to landfill!

The next steps

Given the pilot’s success, there are two opportunities to expand the project:

  • Other compostables, like similar tissue-like products, could be sent to compost
  • More hospitals could get in on the project

This full case study is available to GGHH members via GGHH Connect.

Congratulations Auckland DHB! Thank you for your sustainable healthcare leadership!