More from less and Circularity
Essity is developing a resource-efficient value chain with sustainable manufacturing processes and products using innovative materials and smarter designs. We also encourage the use of recycled and renewable materials in our products and packaging. Circularity is a challenge that requires creative thinking, new business models and partnerships.
Strategic innovation is conducted globally by Essity, with cross-functional networks focusing on innovation, packaging and circularity. Essity uses ISO 9001 for quality management and ISO 14001 and the EU’s Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) for environmental management. A large number of production units are certified in accordance with ISO and/or EMAS. Social, environmental and circularity assessments are performed by experts in the Sustainability Products & Services unit to measure the company’s progress. We measure environmental impact using life cycle assessments that are based on the ISO 14040 series of standards as well as product-specific regulations for tissue products and Personal Care products. The results of our external life cycle assessments are subject to third-party assessments.
Through our partnership with such organizations as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Essity promotes greater circularity throughout the company in collaboration with other actors.
Reducing the environmental impact of materials Essity works in several ways to reduce material used in production. For example, we have a material savings program, MSAVE, with the aim of achieving cost efficiency while minimizing the environmental impact from raw materials and reducing waste.
For sustainable forestry
Fresh wood-based and recycled fiber accounts for the largest share of material in Essity’s products. Forest is a natural resource, which in addition to providing raw material plays a key role for the climate and biodiversity. To ensure that our consumers can rely on that all components in an Essity product and all fiber comes from responsible forestry, Essity introduced a new target in 2019 that all raw materials derived from wood-based fresh fiber in the company’s products and packaging are to be certified in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC™). Both certification programs place demands on the management of growing forest and seek to preserve biodiversity and protect cultural environment and social values. We have a global sourcing policy for wood-based fresh fiber in place and a shared business system for the assessment, purchase and traceability of fiber. Essity conducts its own audits of suppliers’ systems and sometimes employs external parties to prepare reports or perform additional surveys of suppliers. We take part in global forums, including the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Forest Positive Coalition of Action, to act together against global deforestation.
Smaller quantities and more sustainable plastic solutions
Plastic is a relatively robust material that can be customized for various uses, for example allowing Essity to produce thinner incontinence products. Plastic can therefore help Essity to make “more from less” at the same time as we can meet high quality standards. However, there are problems with fossil-based plastic, for example as a source of emissions and waste in nature.
Packaging represents a small part of our products’ total life cycle but plays a big role to our customers. We are working to ensure that all of our packaging is recyclable and, step by step, is made from renewable and recycled materials. This means that we will continue to use paper packaging and are replacing fossil plastic in our plastic packaging with renewable plastic, recycled plastic or paper.
We are working continuously to develop smarter designs and innovative plastic materials for our products, which will reduce the climate impact in both our value chain and when in use. In the long term we want to offer more circular innovation.
As a means of fulfilling our sustainability targets, we constantly research alternative fibers and production methods. One example is Essity’s facility for alternative fiber at the company’s tissue plant in Mannheim, Germany that will start manufacturing in 2021. We can thereby manufacture high-quality tissue from wheat straw, a renewable resource that is an agricultural by-product. This process is a circular innovation that will reduce the total environmental and climate impact of the pulp produced at the plant, including a significant decrease in water and energy consumption.
From waste to resources
Inefficient waste management leads to climate change, pollution, impact on ecosystems and financial losses. Essity is dedicated to reducing waste in the entire value chain. Since waste has a clear impact on the climate, we measure our waste within the framework of our climate targets.
Reducing waste from our production facilities has been integrated into our work methods for a long time. Wherever waste arises, we work actively to recover it for use as material or energy. The production facilities work toward meeting the target that all production waste will be subject to material and energy recovery by 2030. For example, recovered material from tissue manufacturing can be used as raw material for other industries, such as the construction industry.
Waste management of products after use is the shared responsibility of Essity and our customers and consumers. Essity has included circularity assessments in its innovation process to obtain a better understanding of how we can avoid consumer and customer waste from arising. We endeavor to make all packaging technically recyclable. Tissue comprises renewable fibers that have many different after uses. Due to their biodegradability, they are well suited to being flushed as toilet paper or composting. They are also suitable for combustion with energy recycling or for recycling. Personal Care products that are contaminated by various bodily fluids are a greater challenge, but we are continuously evaluating various alternatives for existing waste management.
One difficulty in many markets is the lack of infrastructure for collecting used packaging or products. We therefore support national initiatives that strive to make large-scale recycling of packaging work in practice. One example of new methods introduced by Essity is Tork PaperCircle®, where used paper hand towels are collected and recycled.
Reducing climate impact
Climate change is the defining issue of our time. Its effects are far-reaching and global. We ensure that we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions through collaboration and innovative and environmentally sound solutions.
In 2018, Essity adopted Science Based Targets for the reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions. These targets were approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. The targets help 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.
In terms of energy use within the company and purchased electricity (Scope 1 and 2), Essity has undertaken to reduce emissions by 25% by 2030 compared with 2016. The target applies to wholly owned companies. Essity has, moreover, undertaken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the most important purchased raw materials, transport, waste arising from operations and handling at the end of the life cycle for sold products (Scope 3) by 18% by 2030 compared with 2016. We measure climate impact for our range of products through life cycle assessments.
To ensure that we meet the climate targets, Essity has appointed a steering committee led by members of Essity’s Executive Management Team, with the task of preparing plans for delivering on all Scope 1, 2 and 3 targets.
Activities to reduce the environmental impact of suppliers and materials are presented on the previous pages. Our efforts in the areas of energy, electricity and transport are presented below.
Energy and electricity
Energy efficiency, new technology and the greater use of renewable energy are required to achieve Essity’s stated targets. Essity has a long history of enhancing energy efficiency. ESAVE is an Essity program that comprises investments in energy efficiency, and engages employees in the daily improvement activities for energy use. The company cooperates with external stakeholders such as machinery suppliers to ensure energy efficiency, continuous improvements and the compliance of new equipment with the latest environmental requirements. In 2020, Essity increased its share of renewable energy at the company’s plants in Europe.
Essity’s transportation activities primarily comprise the transportation of raw materials to our production facilities, and the delivery of finished products to our customers. Essity uses external suppliers for its transportation requirements. When possible, Essity prioritizes emissions-effective transport methods such as barges, rail transportation and inter-model combinations (rail/truck) for long-distance transportation. Sea freight represents the largest share of Essity’s inbound transportation, while outbound transportation mainly comprises road and rail freight. Essity has a strong focus on and prioritizes vehicle types that meet the requirements of the latest environmental and emissions classes combined with the most up-to-date alternatives, such as CNG fuel and electric trucks.
Essity participates in various local projects and partnerships with customers and suppliers to jointly reduce emissions from transportation.
Improving water use
People around the world experience uncertainty concerning access to water, known as water stress. This affects Essity’s operations, from access to raw materials and production facilities to the communities in which our employees and consumers live.
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. Our target for water is that the company’s tissue operations will reduce the level of suspended solids, the volume of water used and organic content (BOD) by 10% by 2020, with 2014 as reference year. This water is treated using mechanical and biological treatment systems.
Essity’s reporting based on the recommendations of the framework of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) can be found in the chapter Climate-related risks and opportunities. See also the TCFD Index for a list of where more TCFD-related information can be found in the Annual and Sustainability Report.
For some time now Essity has worked with sustainability throughout the value chain: from responsible raw material sourcing, more efficient production with a lower climate footprint, and sustainable solutions to customers and consumers. The company’s targets to reduce carbon emissions were approved by the Science Based Targets initiative in 2018. The target for 2030 for Scope 1 and 2 is to reduce emissions by 25%, and for Scope 3 by 18% with 2016 as the base year. Essity researches and invests in several ideas in sustainable technology in its manufacturing processes with the aim of reducing the company’s environmental footprint. In 2021, for example, Essity will start up a pulp plant at its facility in Mannheim, Germany. The plant will produce high-quality pulp from wheat straw that will use less water, energy and chemicals as well as reducing carbon emissions. New offerings and business models are under development in Essity that contribute to a more sustainable society and reduce the environmental footprint of both the company and customers and consumers. Essity has been recognized as one of the world’s 100 most sustainable companies by Corporate Knights at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in 2021. Essity is monitoring developments in the EU’s taxonomy to identify and influence the extent to which the company’s activities will be covered by the taxonomy, its provisions and definitions.