Essity, a leading global hygiene and health company with a commitment to a circular society, will invest approximately MSEK 400 in a sustainable alternative fibre facility at its tissue manufacturing plant in Mannheim, Germany. This investment will enable the company to produce high quality consumer and professional hygiene tissue products from wheat straw, a renewable resource that is an agricultural by-product. This process is a circular innovation that will improve the overall environmental impact of tissue products produced there. Production is set to begin in the second half of 2020.
“To support our sustainability ambitions, we continuously assess new production methods. This is one example of how innovation can contribute to a sustainable and circular society,” says Magnus Groth, Essity’s President and CEO.
Essity, one of the world’s largest tissue manufacturers and the world’s largest purchaser of fresh pulp, also uses recycled fibre in its tissue production.
Wheat straw is the stalk leftover after the grain is harvested from wheat. While some wheat straw is used as animal bedding or ground cover, about half the wheat straw worldwide goes to waste. Essity will source wheat straw from farmers in and around Mannheim.
New Process Produces Tissue Comparable in Quality to Fresh Wood Pulp
Essity has signed a license with exclusive rights with US-based Sustainable Fiber Technologies (SFT). The global agreement will give Essity access to SFT’s Phoenix Process™, a technology that converts plant-based renewable sources to pulp suitable for manufacturing tissue products. Tissue produced with wheat straw using this process is as bright, soft and strong as tissue produced from fresh wood pulp.
Using wheat straw has significant sustainability benefits including a significant reduction in the use of water and energy.
“This process will enable Essity to replace some certified fresh wood fibre with renewable wheat straw. This will result in an environmental benefit as the process uses significantly less water and energy. Additionally, it transforms an unused agricultural by-product into a scalable new tissue fibre source,” said Kevin Starr.
A New Example of Essity’s Commitment to Circularity
What is left after we produce pulp from the wheat straw results in a separate by-product that can be used in many ways, creating a circular outcome for this resource. Examples include fertiliser and soil enhancement, a sustainable alternative to the petroleum used in synthetic products and industrial and construction additives.
Essity´s ambitions are to reduce our environmental footprint of our products with 33% by 2030 and our expanded targets for carbon emissions have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative that align with the Paris Agreement on reduction of climate impact.
Today Essity manufactures tissue products for the consumer and professional hygiene segments with about 60% from fresh wood fibre from certified sources and 40% from recycled fibre tissue.