The use of fresh fibre is increasing

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Metsä Tissue uses wood fibre from sustainably managed forests in its products.  

Wood fibre accounts for nearly 99% of the weight of toilet and tissue paper. Metsä Tissue uses fresh fibre, recycled fibre or a combination of these in its tissue paper products. Fresh fibre, or pulp, is made from wood generated as a by-product of logs: wood from forest thinning or trunks that are too thin or low-quality to be used as logs. Recycled fibre is made from recycled paper.

“We always know the origin of the wood we purchase, and we know that all the wood fibre we use comes from sustainably managed forests. In recent years, around half of the fibre we use has been fresh fibre, most of which comes from the Metsä Group’s own mills from Metsä Fibre and Metsä Board,” says Timo Riikonen, responsible of sustainability at Metsä Tissue.

In addition to using pulp from Metsä Group, Metsä Tissue uses market pulp. 

”We only work with pulp suppliers that can verify the responsible origin of their wood fibre. Fibre must not originate from illegal sources. When choosing pulp suppliers, we give priority to suppliers with a valid FSC® or PEFC™ certificate,” says Riikonen. 

In 2019, 91% of the pulp used by Metsä Tissue was certified.

Metsä Tissue is part of Metsä Group, whose parent company, Metsäliitto Cooperative, is owned by some 103,000 Finnish private forest owners. Through its owner-members, Metsä Group has access to a significant reserve of first-class wood raw material.

The quality and availability of recycled fibre are decreasing

Metsä Tissue will increasingly focus on products based on fresh fibre and will invest in growing their production. 

”The use of recycled paper-based fibre in our products decreases as its availability and quality continue to deteriorate. This is mainly due to a decrease in the amount of paper used in offices and newsprint consumption as a result of digitalisation. Recycled fibre also has more competitive applications, for example in the packaging industry,” Riikonen explains.

Recycled fibre will continue to be an important raw material for Metsä Tissue. However, wood fibre cannot be recycled indefinitely: its quality and its strength decrease after four to six uses. This means that strong fresh fibre is needed in addition to recycled fibre. 

Many people believe that recycled fibre-based products are more ecological than fresh fibre-based products. 

“Recycled paper comes from various sources, and always requires cleaning, which is water- and energy-intensive. In addition, the amount of waste generated during the production of fresh fibre-based products is considerably smaller than that generated during the production of recycled fibre-based products.”

Text: Asta Hirvonen
Photo: Kimmo Syväri