Less Recycling Share for More Production

Finnish toilet paper manufacturer Metsä Tissue is looking for alternatives to make its own production economically and environmentally sustainable. In doing so, the group is relying on virgin pulp instead of recycled paper to reduce costs. Recycled paper makes more sense for packaging than for sanitary papers, the company says.

Finland’s Metsä Group is struggling to make toilet paper and other tissue products profitable in the face of extremely high costs, Lebensmittel Zeitung reports. „We have to work with retailers to push through higher prices so that we don’t have to stop machines,“ says Tobias Lüning, German head of the Metsä Tissue Division. Metsä says it has been producing consistently so far.

Unlike competitors, Lüning sees the future not in products made from recycled paper and pulp alternatives, but in fresh pulp. Lüning justifies this with three points: First, the availability of recovered paper will continue to decline because less printing is taking place. Second, the quality of the available material is declining, making recycled paper primarily useful for packaging, he says. „Packaging manufacturers have a higher benefit from buying recycled paper because they can use 80 to 90 percent of it. For sanitary papers, the rate is about 60 percent,“ Lüning says. And thirdly, more energy is needed to prepare recycled paper than to obtain fresh pulp – so fresh pulp is more sustainable both ecologically and economically, he adds. Currently, the share of products made with recycled material is 40 percent at Metsä Tissue, according to the company. The company has not yet communicated how much the share will drop.