Hygiene and health company Essity is today presenting a breakthrough in sustainable tissue production and is beginning production based on pulp from wheat straw. The plant in Mannheim, Germany, is the first of its kind in Europe, and the first on a large-scale tissue production in the world.
This new type of tissue paper is as soft, bright, and strong as traditional tissue paper. Essity is the first company in the tissue industry to use these agricultural leftovers at industrial scale. About half of all straw worldwide remains unused. The straw used in this production is sourced in the region and is processed by Essity. With straw instead of wood-based virgin or recovered fibers as raw material, the process also requires less water and energy.
“This type of innovation is the way forward to increase circularity and reduce our climate footprint. Using straw as a new raw material in pulp makes us less dependent on wood fiber and recycling fiber and is more resource and cost efficient, while our consumers can make more environmentally friendly choices,” says Magnus Groth, President and CEO of Essity.
Essity has an exclusive licensing agreement for the technology, where the straw-based pulp will maintain the same quality as conventional wood-based pulp at a competitive cost. The straw pulp will initially be used in tissue products for the German consumer retail market under Essity’s market-leading brand for household towels and toilet paper, Zewa. The products will contain about 30% straw-based pulp.
The Mannheim plant is Essity’s largest tissue plant in Europe with an annual production capacity of 283,000 tons of tissue. Annually, the company will regionally source 70,000 tons of straw that will become about 35,000 tons of pulp.
The production of paper from straw pulp is part of Essity’s work to increase circularity and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.