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 consumption in use, developing products with smarter design and quality material and by continually optimizing resource efficiency along the value chain. Read more about Essity’s packaging targets in Note H6.

Essity follows a life cycle approach at every stage of the value chain to encompass the social, environmental and societal impact of the company’s products, packaging and services. This makes it possible to meet customers’ needs and exceed their expectations. The company promotes life cycle thinking in its sourcing, production, development of innovations and after use.

A life cycle assessment (LCA) shows the total environmental impact of a product from the use of raw materials, product development, production and use, to the waste phase. This is based on the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards as well as product-specific regulations for tissue products and Personal Care products. For each activity in the life cycle, an LCA estimates the impact from raw materials, energy and transportation as well as emissions. Life cycle assessments conducted by Essity cover the main categories that describe the potential impact on the environment, meaning the product’s carbon footprint, acidification of rivers and lakes, and eutrophication of land or water systems.

Responsible sourcing involves seeking high-quality raw materials that are safe from both a social and environmental perspective. The company’s suppliers adhere to strict demands in Essity’s Global Supplier Standard.

Resource-efficient production focuses on efficient use of resources and on reducing energy consumption and waste. Only chemicals that meet Essity’s stringent safety requirements are used. Their potential impact on employees, customers, consumers and the environment is evaluated continuously. The production units apply management systems, such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001.

Supply chain management

Essity employs a systematic approach to manage potential risks in its supply chain. By purchasing from suppliers who meet the requirements established in its Global Supplier Standard, Essity will routinely promote responsible business operations and respect for human rights in the company’s supply chain. The Global Supplier Standard contains requirements concerning quality, product safety, the environment and chemicals. It also contains a Code of Conduct for Suppliers that covers Essity’s expectations as regards human rights (for example, child labor and forced labor) and employee relations as well as health and safety. Moreover, Essity requires its suppliers to conduct self-evaluations on labor standards, the environment, business ethics as well as health and safety through the Sedex database. The responses are used both in risk assessments when evaluating potential suppliers and in the routine risk assessment of suppliers of purchased materials, products and services.

Purchases from suppliers in countries classified as high risk under the Maplecroft Human Rights Index are audited specifically with a focus on parameters such as human rights and employment conditions. An ethical audit can also be triggered by other indicators such as a low rating in Sedex or a low score in Essity’s supplier audit. The preferred audit format is SMETA, which is the most popular method in the world for social and ethical audits. Other audit methods are accepted if they meet Essity’s requirements.

Certain materials and goods – for example, conflict minerals, cotton and wood fiber that Essity purchases – are deemed to have the greatest risks before they reach Essity’s direct suppliers. Consequently, risk assessment must be carried out lower down in the supplier chain. Read more about work in 2019 with suppliers in Note H7.

Conflict minerals and cotton

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 (CMRT) from the Responsible Minerals Initiative.

Some of Essity’s products contain cotton fiber, and Essity requires the cotton to be produced sustainably taking fair working conditions and the environment into account. Essity is a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, the world’s largest sustainability program for cotton. Essity prefers this program, but other programs can also be accepted.

Fiber sourcing

Essity’s target is that all raw materials derived from wood-based fresh fiber in the company’s products and packaging 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 wood-based fresh fiber, meaning timber, pulp, packaging, mother reels and finished products supplied by external parties to Essity’s own production sites.

All fiber material containing wood-based fresh 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 sourcing policy for wood-based fresh fiber in place and a shared business system for the assessment, purchase and traceability of fiber in compliance with Essity’s targets for purchasing fiber.

Essity requires wood-based fresh fiber suppliers to guarantee that they have robust systems and documented procedures in place to ensure traceability and compliance throughout the supply chain. When needed, Essity will support all new suppliers in their transition to third-party certification. Essity also conducts its own audits of suppliers’ systems and sometimes employs external parties to produce reports or perform additional surveys of suppliers. The audits are based on Essity’s Global Supplier Standard. Read more about the company’s fiber purchasing in 2019 in Note H8.

Climate and energy

Essity has adopted Science Based Targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Approved by the Science Based Targets initiative, these targets encompass energy, electricity, suppliers, transportation and waste. The Science Based Targets initiative helps companies determine which emission reductions they need to achieve to decrease the global temperature rise, as agreed by the countries of the world at the 2015 UN climate change conference (COP 21) in Paris.

ESAVE is an Essity program that comprises investments in energy efficiency. This engages employees in daily improvement activities for energy use at Essity. The company also cooperates with external stakeholders such as machinery suppliers to ensure energy efficiency, continuous improvements and compliance of new equipment with future requirements. Essity also has a material savings program, MSAVE, using the same philosophy, methodology and exchange of experience as ESAVE. The program aims to achieve cost efficiency while minimizing the environmental impact from raw materials and reduced waste. Read more about work in 2019 with energy and emissions to air as well as the company’s Science Based Targets in Note H9.


Essity strives to reduce water use and 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 removes dissolved solids and organic impurities that affect biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD). Read more about work in 2019 with water in Note H10.

Waste management

Waste management of products is a common responsibility for Essity and its 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 under existing composting standards to ensure that all requirements are met. Essity is also working to develop the recycling of paper hand towels.

For Essity’s products in the Personal Care business area, energy recovery through combustion is a good alternative to landfill. There are currently no infrastructure or established business models for collecting and recycling used products. Essity is working actively on investigating new waste management alternatives. Read more about work in 2019 with waste in Note H11.

Distribution and transportation

Essity works continually to reduce emissions and the environmental impact of transportation. The implementation of the Group-wide Transport Management System is the driver behind efficiency enhancements in transportation. This results in increased fill ratio, optimized routes and a choice of means of transportation with a smaller environmental impact. Essity is continuously reviewing its distribution network in order to reduce transport distances and routes driven with empty loads. By optimizing the use of trucks and containers, Essity will reduce the number of transportation runs from plants to ports. Essity is also working to maximize the use of pallets and to use larger trailers to further improve loading volumes and reduce the number of transportation runs.

Maritime transportation is used primarily to transport pulp fiber, and Essity routinely monitors shipping companies to ensure that they comply with applicable environmental standards. The company works actively to use low sulfur fuel, which will become mandatory with the new IMO 2020 ordinance. For transportation between suppliers, plants and warehouses, Essity prioritizes emission-efficient methods of transport such as barges, rail transportation and transportation providers who combine different methods of transportation. Read more about Essity’s work in 2019 with transport in Note H12.