Tissue & Hygiene Papers
For tissue, softness and bulk are key attributes
We all use a form of tissue or hygiene paper every day. It could be in the form of kitchen roll, tissues, facial wipes – or to name the obvious; just imagine where we’d be without toilet paper!
This part of the sector is predominantly mills making soft papers used for tissue grades, though some also produce more specialist products such as cellulose wadding and wet wipes. The papermaking machines make ‘parent’ reels – commonly weighing several tonnes – which are converted into consumer ready product (mostly rolls or sheets) either elsewhere on site or at separate locations. Some companies specialise in converting, and as such, do not always make their own paper, rather purchasing parent reels on the international market.
With a growing and ageing population, demand for hygiene products continues to increase. UK manufacturers make products for all part of the market – from branded premium product focused on intrinsic qualities, to generic grades focused on price. The UK is unusual in the power of supermarkets and the strong role for their own label product.
For tissue, softness and bulk are key attributes, meaning it is expensive to move converted (sales ready) product long distances. Accordingly, most domestically consumed product is supplied by UK mills, though significant numbers of parent reels are imported as well as some shop ready packs. However, most conversion into final product is carried out relatively close to where it is sold. Of product sold in the UK, around two thirds of the paper is made in the UK, though a higher percentage will be converted in this country.
Fibres used in tissue making are either produced from paper recycled on site or imported pre-made baled virgin pulp. A number of UK mills have deinking plants to process recycled paper fibre for tissue production – materials used will tend to be white office paper grades. For virgin pulps, the importance of both strength and softness in the finished tissue is critical, so the fibres used are often a blend – long and coarse fibres for strength, and shorter and more even fibres for softness.
It’s a Matter of Hygiene
Environmental issues related to paper are a source of numerous misconceptions. Innovation has been at the heart of papermaking for nearly two thousand years and it would be hard to imagine what life would be like without paper.
Timber used for papermaking comes from well managed forests where more trees are planted than harvested to ensure sustainable growth.
Papermakers usually use only the parts of the tree that other commercial industries don’t want – such as saw mill waste and forest thinnings.
Some of the pulp properties depend upon the process used to separate the fibres from the timber. The main processes are called mechanical and chemical.