Customers and consumers
Essity has a global SAP-based complaint handling system that was introduced in 2011. The Group seeks to compensate unsatisfied customers directly and determine whether a need exists for further measures beyond the individual case. For example, production personnel receive feedback to determine whether a production fault was the underlying cause. User complaints and opinions provide valuable consumer insight and it is important that the knowledge gathered is transferred to the organization.
Essity’s innovation process
Essity’s innovation process originates in an understanding of a customer or consumer need. The process is divided into four phases.
Feasibility: Innovation concepts based on customer or consumer insight are elaborated and validated. The market situation and the global business potential are assessed, and high-level technological and commercial feasibility are evaluated.
Development: A cross-functional project team leads the development of a proposed solution, including a specific product, service or business model. Requirements of the product, packaging, service and technology are developed and verified with customers and consumers, and communication materials are prepared. Product safety assessments for materials, life cycle assessments (LCAs) and social assessments are performed by experts to ensure product safety and environmental and social performance.
Capacity: The project works toward market launch and building the capability to deliver. Marketing materials are created, the production solution is verified against requirements, and all product and packaging specifications are finalized. The fulfillment of the regulatory requirements governing products in all markets is secured.
Launch: The innovation is introduced to customers/consumers in the market. The intended benefits are weighed against market feedback; the supply chain is adjusted accordingly. Supply and demand balance is optimized in production to ensure efficiency. The feedback then drives the roll-out plan.
Essity has a portal for open innovation. Inventors, entrepreneurs and small companies are invited to submit solutions in response to various challenges from Essity. The solutions should be patented so that there are no outstanding issues regarding intellectual property rights should the proposal result in a licensing agreement or other type of business arrangement. A number of proposals have been submitted this way and some of them have led to further collaboration or product launches.
Essity launched an internal innovation platform in 2013 called ICON (Idea Collaboration Online). ICON is not limited to product innovations. Proposals may include manufacturing, logistics or marketing solutions. ICON complements other platforms and initiatives to spur innovation and is frequently used in early phases of the innovation process to gather solutions and ideas from employees.
Life cycle management
Essity works with a life cycle perspective to understand the environmental, social and societal impacts of our products and solutions. This enables Essity to deliver products and solutions that meet customers’ needs and exceed their expectations. We promote life cycle thinking in our sourcing, production and development of innovations.
Responsible sourcing involves seeking high-quality, safe, environmentally and socially sound raw materials. Essity’s suppliers adhere to strict standards, including criteria for quality, product safety, environment, chemicals and business responsibility.
Resource-efficient production focuses on an efficient use of resources and on reducing energy consumption and waste. The production units apply management systems such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001.
Sustainable solutions are defined as innovative, safe, environmentally and socially sound hygiene products and services. Essity’s innovations for people and nature are based on customer and consumer insight with a focus on meeting needs in daily life. It is essential to optimize products and solutions during use to control consumption and reduce waste.
Waste management of products is a common responsibility for Essity and customers and consumers. Energy recovery through incineration is a good alternative to landfill for personal care products. Essity is actively exploring waste treatment methodologies, such as recycling of materials and composting.
Life cycle assessments
Essity has used life cycle assessments (LCAs) since the early 1990s. An LCA illustrates the complete environmental impact of a product based on the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards as well as product-specific rules in place for hygiene products. It is a standardized measurement of environmental impact in every phase of the product, from raw materials, product development, production and use to disposal of waste.
For each activity in the life cycle, an LCA calculates the input of resources, energy and transportation and the output of, for example, emissions to air and water.
The result of an LCA is expressed in environmental impact categories. The LCAs conducted by Essity cover the main impact categories that describe the potential impact on global warming/climate change, meaning the product’s carbon footprint, acidification of rivers and lakes, and eutrophication of land or water systems.
Essity follows strict requirements and procedures to ensure that all materials in the company’s products are safe for consumers, employees and the environment. Essity has global product safety guidelines in place for all products to ensure that they are safe for their intended purpose. Product safety requirements are a key component of Essity’s Global Supplier Standard, and the company works closely with its suppliers to ensure that its high standards are met. In recent years, there has been an increased focus on issues related to product safety, a trend that continued in 2017.
The chemicals used in the production process are managed under strict controls. Their potential impact on employees, customers and the environment is evaluated. Only chemicals that meet Essity’s stringent safety requirements are chosen.
It is critical that Essity complies with all prevailing laws and regulations that apply to its products. We do this for products where marketing permits/licenses from an authority are required to launch and keep our products on the market, but it is equally important that we comply with regulatory requirements for products where no approval is required for sale. Otherwise, risk products cannot be launched or may need to be taken off the market.