Well-informed residents might know where their coffee beans or T-bone steaks come from, but what about their children's diapers?

Turns out, they might come from right here in Delaware.

The Domtar Personal Care manufacturing facility at 2332 U.S. Route 42 produces disposable diapers and training pants for toddlers. It also provides jobs for about 300 people.

But just as important, leaders say, is its distinctive role in disaster relief around the United States.

Diapers can be in short supply when an area is hit by a hurricane or tornado, and that's when Domtar steps in.

Officials said the factory produces about 1.2 billion diapers a year, and last year donated an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million diapers to families in areas struck by natural disasters.

Plant manager Mark Clack said the Delaware facility is one of five operated in the United States by Domtar Personal Care that has provided such relief assistance.

Michelle Old is the founder and executive director of the Diaper Bank of North Carolina, a nonprofit she created in 2013. She said the organization distributed 4 million free diapers in 2018, when the state was hit by hurricanes Florence and Michael.

Most of the diapers, she said, were supplied by Domtar, which delivered three semitrailers full in the days immediately following Florence in September.

Domtar, she said, has made such help "a personal mission for their organization" and asks, "'How can we help families in the most effective way?' We've never worked with a corporation that has embraced a mission the way Domtar has."

Areas hit by the hurricanes "are devastated and will be for years to come," Old said, "and we're still getting diapers from Domtar. Domtar is in it for the long-term."

The donations, Clack said, are an element in Domtar's overall philosophy of civic and environmental responsibility.

On the face of it, he said, giving away products for free "from a business perspective is not a good thing to do. But we do things like that to engage our (employees). ... We've learned from engagement surveys that people want to work for a company or an organization that's bigger than themselves."

Free diapers are routinely provided to those who need them through diaper banks and other social service organizations, said Domtar administrative assistant Vicki Bowles. One example, she said, is the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

Domtar also provided thousands of free diapers when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, and the company has added children's books to some of its donations, Bowles said.

Domtar markets diapers under its Comfee brand, and also produces diapers for the proprietary brands of a number of retailers.

Domtar's emphasis on civic responsibility isn't limited to diaper donations. Last year, about 60 employees, including Clack, spent a day painting and cleaning up the Delaware County Fairgrounds in preparation for the county fair.

The company also showed its environmental commitment by sending all of its waste to recyclers

"Landfill-free, that's a big deal," Clack said. "It gives employees a sense of pride."

Making the switch took a concerted effort, he said, because using landfills is a cheap and easy thing to do.

One element was to train employees to separate waste for different recycling efforts, which Clack said was facilitated in large part by the efforts of Bowles and environmental health and safety coordinator Jennifer Brown.

Much of the plant's waste is used by InRETURN, a Cincinnati-based business that hires individuals who have suffered a neurological injury, disease or disorder by promoting independent living and personal success through job and life-skills training.

InRETURN uses the material for products such as absorbent dog beds, Bowles said.

Another recycling partner, she said, is Covanta Indianapolis, which uses 2,175 tons of waste per day to power a steam-generating plant in Indiana's capital.

Employee safety and health also are emphasized by Domtar, Clack said. The plant has gone more than a year without a lost-time accident and created traffic patterns to reduce the number of locations when pedestrian and forklift traffic intersect.

Another initiative, which came to fruition this month, Clack said, was eliminating tobacco use at the facility after more than two years of preparation for the change.

Construction on the Domtar plant began in 2006 and it opened in 2007, Clack said. An expansion was added in 2009.