Developing sustainable tissue paper packaging and dispensers

Markus Reivala
Markus Reivala

Sustainability is part of the DNA of Metsä Tissue’s Away-from Home business unit. We understand that all our actions have an impact on our environment. Our tissue papers and dispensers are a necessity for offices, hospitals, schools, and other public spaces and toilet facilities. Our responsibility is to make sure that we offer our customers sustainable products with minimal environmental impact.

As a tissue paper producer, our main raw materials are wood pulp and recovered fibres. Both are naturally biodegradable materials that come from nature and returning to it, so everything is OK, right? The fact that we need to pack and deliver products to customers and users challenges us in terms of the use of plastic. As a packaging material, plastic is superior to many current alternatives: it is lightweight, and it protects products well from moisture, dirt and damage in transport. In addition, in our market area, recycling mainly functions well, so used packaging ends up in the recycling bin. Obviously, there is always room for improvement, and that also applies to more efficient waste collection of plastic throughout Europe.

However, plastic is not the only way to pack tissue products. We have a large range of products that we deliver in cardboard boxes, which offers equal if not better protection than plastic when there is no fear of excess moisture and the content is heavy. There is a place for both alternatives, and developments in plastic packaging allow us to use thinner plastic to minimize consumption. This as in addition to avoiding overpackaging and focusing on bigger transport units to minimize the use of plastic per paper product delivered.

In the public environment, users always take tissue paper from appropriate dispensers, whether it is toilet tissue or a hand towel. In addition, we offer soaps and hand disinfectants to complete the routine of good hand hygiene. Dispensers are used for the comfort and safety of the user. The dispensers are made of plastic, but designed and engineered to be robust and long-lasting. This ensures that we minimize the environmental impact. When dispensers need to be replaced, they can be recycled, so the material can be reused as some other beneficial item.

But we have not stopped here. The plastic we have been using to produce the dispensers is pure new material. To make them even more sustainable, we have been testing and trialling recycled material – and it has paid off. This year, we are changing all the black plastic parts in our dispensers to use recycled material, and we are continuing trials with other grades of plastic. The ultimate target is obviously to use as much recycled material as possible for producing our dispensers.

Finally, using paper towels that have been well protected during transport and are dispensed from a well-functioning dispenser is absolutely the most hygienic way to dry your hands – keeping those nasty bugs away!


Markus Reivala
Vice President, Product Development & Brand, Away-from-Home business unit,
Metsä Tissue

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