Contribute to a sustainable and circular society
Essity’s objective is to develop products and services for a sustainable and circular society. This is achieved by reducing inefficient volume consumption, developing products with smarter design and quality material and by continuously optimizing resource efficiency in the value chain. Increasing the use of renewable and recycled material is part of the strategy. Renewable fresh or recycled fiber is used today in Essity’s tissue products. The proportion of renewable and recycled plastics in the company’s packaging will increase over the coming years. The goal is that all packaging is recyclable by 2025.
Waste management of products is a common responsibility for Essity and customers and consumers. Tissue products comprise renewable fibers that contribute to renewable energy through combustion. Thanks to their biodegradability, they are well suited to composting and digestions. Compostability is based on tests according to existing composting standards to ensure that all requirements are met. In the Tork PaperCircle pilot project, Essity is working to recycle used paper hand towels that are returned to the tissue plant and used to make new products.
For Essity’s products in the Personal Care business area, energy recovery through combustion is a good alternative to landfill. There is currently no infrastructure and no established business models for collecting and recycling used products. Essity is working proactively with external partners to assess alternatives for recycling, including a pilot project in the Netherlands where Essity, together with an external party, is developing methods for recycling baby diapers and incontinence products.
Climate and energy
Essity has adopted Science-Based Targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. These targets encompasses energy, electricity, suppliers, transportation and waste. The Science Based Targets initiative is a collaboration between CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project), the UN Global Compact, the WRI (World Resources Institute) and the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature). Science-Based Targets helps companies determine which emission reductions they need to achieve to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, as agreed by world leaders at the UN climate change conference (COP 21) in Paris in 2015.
ESAVE, which the company initiated back in 2003, is a program that encompasses investments in energy-efficient technical solutions, the involvement of employees in daily improvement activities and a general change in attitude toward the use of energy at Essity. Knowledge sharing is leveraged across the Group through training and various networks, and ESAVE is part of several onboarding programs for young engineers. Best practices are shared digitally to achieve energy-efficiency excellence by learning from others. Essity also cooperates with external stakeholders, such as machinery suppliers, to ensure continued leadership in energy efficiency and continuous improvements. All new equipment is resource efficient by design and ESAVE is part of the planning criteria.
Essity has also introduced a material savings program, MSAVE, using the same philosophy and methodology as ESAVE. The program aims to achieve the best cost while minimizing the environmental impact from raw materials and waste. Best practice is shared across the sites worldwide.
Essity works continuously to enhance its water treatment and thus the quality of the effluent water discharged from its plants. Mechanical treatment removes suspended solids, sand and particles, while biological treatment extracts dissolved solids and organic impurities that affect biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD).
Essity follows a life cycle approach that includes purchasing, production, use and waste management. This means the company use life cycle assessments (LCAs) to identify resource-efficient solutions and minimize waste, all the way from the product design stage to manufacturing and after use.
Supply chain management
Essity has applied a Global Supplier Standard (GSS) for many years. The standard includes requirements concerning quality, product safety, the environment, energy and chemicals. The GSS also contains a specific section concerning Essity’s expectations of its suppliers with regard to human rights, employee relations, and health and safety – Essity’s Supplier Code of Conduct.
As with its own production units, Essity requires suppliers to perform a self-assessment of health and safety, labor standards, the environment and business ethics in the global Sedex database and to share their status. The answers are used for risk assessments. This is part of Essity’s process with supplier risk assessment to ensure compliance with social and ethical sustainability criteria, including respect for human rights and working conditions. Sustainability matters are taken into consideration both when evaluating potential suppliers and in the continuous risk assessment of suppliers and purchased materials, products and services. Alongside Sedex, other sources are used to support the risk assessment.
Purchases from suppliers in countries classified as high-risk countries according to the Maplecroft Human Rights Index are audited with a specific focus on parameters such as health and safety, human rights and employment conditions. An ethical audit of a supplier can also be triggered by other indicators, such as a low rating in Sedex, a low health and safety score in Essity’s supplier qualification audit or the outcome from Essity’s risk assessments. The goal is to audit all high-risk suppliers, based on Essity’s risk assessment procedure. Essity works with the global auditing company SGS to perform the audits. Essity also accepts independent audits or audits performed on behalf of other clients if the topics covered match Essity’s audit requirements and information about corrective and preventive action is shared.
Essity requires documented Chain of Custody from suppliers of products that may contain potential conflict minerals. This mainly applies to paper dispensers for public bathrooms with electronic components containing metals whose origins are to be reported using the Conflict Minerals Reporting Template from the Responsible Minerals Initiative.
Some of Essity’s products contain cotton fiber. The volumes are limited but since cotton agriculture in certain countries is associated with social risks, Essity pays particular attention to its cotton suppliers. Essity’s ambition is that all purchased cotton is to be part of a recognized program for sustainable cotton. Essity is a member of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), one of the world’s largest sustainability programs for cotton, which is the preferred program for sustainable cotton, though other programs, for example, organic cotton programs, are accepted.
Essity’s target is that all raw materials based on fresh wood fiber in the company’s products are to be certified either in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC™). The target includes all deliveries of fresh wood fiber, meaning timber, pulp, packaging, mother reels and finished products supplied by external parties to Essity’s own production sites.
All fiber material containing fresh wood fiber must be accompanied by an FSC Controlled Wood Chain of Custody certification regardless of whether the material is PEFC certified or certified by a forest certification other than FSC.
Essity has a global fiber sourcing policy in place and a shared business system – Essity’s Global Fiber Database (GFDB) – for the assessment and purchase of fiber in compliance with Essity’s targets for purchasing fresh wood fiber. The database includes all of the Group’s pulp, recovered fiber and alternative fiber suppliers. This database provides the purchasing function, environmental department, R&D department and production facilities with fast and easy access to important information about suppliers: certification status, region of supply, wood species, pulp specifications and bleaching methods. Essity can thereby ensure the legal requirements for traceability. The company’s R&D department can check the availability of a certain raw material and the sales organization can show customers exactly what has been purchased.
Essity requires fresh fiber suppliers to guarantee that they have robust systems and documented procedures in place to ensure traceability and compliance throughout the supply chain. Essity’s fresh fiber sourcing policy includes support to other potential non-certified suppliers in their transition to third-party certification. Essity also conducts its own audits of suppliers’ systems and sometimes employs external parties to perform additional surveys of suppliers. The audits are based on Essity’s global fiber sourcing policy and Essity’s Global Supplier Standard, which play a key role in contracts with suppliers. The supplier standard requires all suppliers to work with quality, environment, product safety, the Code of Conduct and social sustainability.
Distribution and transportation
Essity is working to reduce emissions and the environmental impact of transportation and has implemented a new Transport Management System to enhance the efficiency of transportation by further increasing the fill ratio, reducing distances driven and prioritizing transport means with less environmental impact. Essity is continuously reviewing its distribution network in order to reduce transport distances and strengthening purchasing procedures with a focus on using the most modern and environmentally friendly transport means. The company is testing new technologies that can reduce fuel consumption together with its freight forwarders. The company is taking part in local collaboration projects, such as Lean & Green and FREIGHT21 to cut transport emissions. Essity is also test driving trucks with a larger cargo volume to reduce the number of trips needed to transport tissue.
Shipping is mainly used for pulp fiber. Essity continuously monitors shipping companies to ensure that they comply with applicable environmental standards. For transportation between the port and plant, Essity uses barges and rail transport wherever possible. Since rail transport is a carbon-efficient alternative, it is a prioritized transport means for Essity. Restrictions in the rail network and lead times mean Essity requests that its suppliers use rail to the greatest possible extent, supplemented by truck transport. For distances exceeding 500 km, Essity prioritizes that suppliers uses several different modes of transport to minimize the environmental impact.