Packaging protects products from damage and spoiling, and keeps them clean and safe for consumers. Packaging is also an important medium for communicating with consumers: it attracts their attention, arouses their interest in the product, and makes it stand out from the competition. For example, the smiling squirrel on the packaging of Serla products immediately catches the eye and says to consumers, “Hi there, I’m here!” Packaging also makes products easier to use.
Every now and then, people ask why we use plastic packaging for our toilet papers and household paper towels - products which are made from wood fibre. Plastic is the most common material used in packaging for tissue paper products. The packaging must be able to cope with storage, handling and transport, and keep the product in saleable condition all the way to the store. The product also needs to be easy for consumers to take home and to store. Most consumers also want to be able to see the product through the packaging before they buy it.
There is currently an important global discourse about reducing plastic waste and promoting plastic recycling. Unnecessary use of raw materials must naturally be avoided, and raw materials must be used as efficiently as possible. In addition, we should replace products based on fossil raw materials with ones made from renewable sources, such as wood-based raw materials. How we dispose of plastic is a vital issue. Finland has a well-functioning waste management system, and recycling of plastic has grown in recent years – but there’s still room for improvement. Every one of us must ensure that the plastic we use does not end up as litter or microparticles in nature. We need to collect, recycle and reuse materials, in line with the principles of the circular economy.
Sustainability is central to everything we do at Metsä Group. With regard to plastic, over the years, we’ve made thepackaging for our toilet papers and household paper towels thinner, and by that we’ve cut our use of plastic per packaging. Some of our products have plastic packaging made from renewable raw material, and we are also continuously examining opportunities to use alternative packaging materials, like paperboard and recycled plastic. We are encouraging our suppliers to provide us with innovative packaging solutions in the near future. For the time being, though, we haven’t identified anoptimal, cost-effective substitute for plastic.
When assessing overall effects, it’s important to bear in mind that damaged products that cannot be used and go to waste have environmental effects many times higher than those of the packaging. For this reason, it’s extremely important to protect products effectively. And it’s just as important to continuously improve our overall sustainability and develop solutions that make consumers’ daily lives easy and comfortable. Packaging is an integral part of a product, and for its further development, we always keep our eyes open.
SVP, Consumer Nordics, Metsä Tissue