The use of plastic has provoked a great deal of discussion in recent years. Alternative materials are being sought at a growing pace. Metsä Tissue is actively involved in this development.
In tissue paper product packaging, plastic is a superior material in many ways: it’s lightweight and protects delicate products effectively from moisture and dirt, as well as from damage during storage and transport. According to studies conducted by Metsä Tissue, it’s also important that consumers can see the tissue paper rolls through the packaging. The hand towel and toilet paper dispensers for Metsä Tissue’s away-from-home products are made from plastic, but have been designed to be durable, with long useful lives.
“Plastic packaging has evolved over the years, and we’ve been able to reduce our use of plastic by using thinner plastic wraps on our products. We also avoid other types of over-packaging, and we transport large batches, so that the use of plastic per delivered paper product remains as low as possible,” says Markus Reivala, VP, Global Offering at Metsä Tissue.
“In our dispensers, we’ve already replaced all black plastic parts with recycled materials. In the future, we aim to use as much recycled material as possible in the dispensers.”
Last year, Metsä Tissue introduced tissue paper packaging made from recycled plastic and renewable raw material in Serla consumer products in the Finnish market. The plastic comes from plastic recycled by industry and consumers. The renewable raw material, ethanol, is a by-product of sugar production. The new Serla Green Pack wrap is used as packaging for Serla’s yellow toilet paper and several types of household towel. According to Metsä Tissue’s calculations, the new packaging reduces the use fossil-based plastic by around 89,000 kilos per year.
Alternatives to plastic are now being sought far and wide and wood-based and other materials are being developed for this purpose. New materials are typically being developed by small start-ups, and their production is not yet industrial-scale. In addition, alternative materials continue to be costly. Metsä Tissue actively monitors developments in the industry and is looking for new solutions in cooperation with its subcontractors.
Metsä Tissue’s sustainability targets include a plastic-free offering by 2030. The first step is to increase the use of recycled plastic.
“The current trend supports our goal to abandon the use of fossil-based raw materials. A cost-effective replacement for plastic hasn’t been found yet, but as a leading tissue paper producer we continue to actively seek alternatives to achieve our set goal,” says Reivala.
The whole Metsä Group aims for fossil-free production by 2030. By that time, our mills will use no fossil fuels at all, and we will use only fossil-free raw materials in our products.
Text: Asta Hirvonen
Photo: Juho Huttunen