UK Tissue Supply

Joint statement in response to concerns about supply shortages by the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) and the Paper Industry Technical Association (PITA)

10 March 2020

No need to panic buy or stockpile – the market continues to operate normally.

UK tissue market. 
 Consumers can be reassured that the present coronavirus outbreak has had no immediate impact on the UK tissue industry, tissue manufacturing, wholesale stock levels, the industry supply chain or supply to retailers.   
Toilet tissue.  Coronavirus has no impact (or likely impact) on the actual demand for toilet tissue and it follows there is no need to panic buy or stockpile.  Manufacturing and distribution continue to operate normally, and retail stocks are being replenished.  
Hand tissues.  Again, the coronavirus outbreak has had no impact on manufacturing or supply chains, with product still being distributed to retailers as normal.  Manufacturers have increased production to cope with strong demand triggered by additional hand drying and increased hand tissue use stemming from heightened concerns over the airborne spread of disease.  Additional product is now reaching retailers.  
Hand washing.  Public Health advice strongly recommends frequent and through washing of hands.  After washing, it is important that hands are thoroughly dried as any remaining virus spreads more easily on damp hands.  Additionally, thoroughly drying with paper towels physically abrades any remaining virus from hands, with safe disposal of used paper towels through recognised disposal systems.  
Catch it, Bin it, Kill it!  With airborne spread of virus being one of the distribution vectors, the importance of using hand tissues to catch coughs and sneezes to help with infection control has again been highlighted.    
Using paper towels reduces the risk of airborne viruses that may be caused by other hand drying systems.  Certainly in health care critical locations (such as hospitals, care homes and the food supply industry) disposable paper towels should always be the preferred method of hand-drying to minimise the risk of cross-contamination – a finding reinforced by a number of scientific studies.*
The UK tissue industry.  The UK used around 1.25m tonnes of hygiene paper in 2019; more than half in the form of toilet tissue and the remainder as hand, facial, industrial and sanitary tissues.    Around half of this tissue was made in the UK (seventeen tissue mills) with the balance being imported.   Because of the light weight and bulk of shelf-ready product, most international trade is in the form of multi-tonne parent reels, ready for conversion into shelf-ready rolls and packs closer to the end market.  This conversion can happen either at paper mills or separate facilities.  
Raw Materials.  Tissue is made from sustainable wood fibres, either recycled or virgin.  Recycled fibres are largely sourced from within the UK, or from European countries.  Paper tissue is normally a blend of fibres, mostly conifer and plantation grown eucalyptus sourced from Europe, north or south America. 
Imports from China.  Some press reports have incorrectly suggested huge volumes of tissue are imported from China – this is not true.  As part of a global market, there are some exports to the UK, comprising around 2% of the market.  All product is transported by ship taking at least four weeks to arrive.  


For further information please contact:

Andrew Large, CPI Director General, Tel 01793 889601 or email
Barry Read, PITA Chief Executive, Tel 0300 3020 150 or email 
Notes to Editors

* For reference and background:

For more statistical information on the UK tissue market click here.

About CPI
The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) is the leading trade association representing the UK’s Paper-based Industries, comprising paper and board manufacturers and converters, corrugated packaging producers, makers of soft tissue papers, and collectors of paper for recycling.

CPI represents an industry with an aggregate annual turnover of £12.1 billion, 62,000 employees and which supports a further 100,000 jobs in the wider economy.  

For further information visit

About PITA
The Paper Industry Technical Association (PITA) is an independent, member-based organisation, which operates for the general benefit of its members – both individual and corporate – dedicated to promoting and improving the technical and scientific knowledge of those working in the Fibrous Forest Products Industries - such as pulp, paper, wood panel, moulded pulp and other similar industries.
For further information visit

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