Collaboration to close the paper towels circle



Paper towels account for a large part of many companies’ and municipalities’ waste, and the towels are normally thrown in the mixed waste and eventually incinerated. In a collaboration with Essity, Stena Recycling in Sweden help to recycle the paper towels, turning them into new paper tissue.

Tork PaperCircle® is the world's first, and so far only paper towel recycling service. Launched in Sweden in early 2019, the service was developed by the hygiene and health company Essity. Several companies and municipal operations around Sweden now already collect and recycle their paper towels, so that they can be turned into new paper products.

“Allowing materials to circulate in closed cycles is often a good way to reduce climate impact and to free more raw material. Essity’s life cycle analysis shows that the recycling of paper towel reduces the carbon dioxide footprint by at least 40 percent*, compared to when the paper is incinerated. That is why I am happy to say we are part of Essity’s solution to collect and recycle used paper hand towels into new tissue products.” says Malin Baltzar, Sustainability Manager at Stena Recycling in Sweden.

Tork PaperCircle® is based on the disposing of the paper towels in a separate container. The maintenance staff take care of the sorted paper towels, keeping them separated from the other waste. Stena Recycling collects the towels and optimize the transport by compressing the residual towels. After that the towels are delivered to Essity’s paper mill, where they are turned into new paper products.

In Sweden, the service is already in use by the city of Mölndal, AstraZeneca, Essity, and additional customers within the city of Mölndal. Ängelholm municipality is the first in the country to introduce the service in schools. Folksam in Stockholm will also start using the service in January. The service is also up and running in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

* The result of a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) performed by Essity Tork and verified by IVL, Swedish Environmental Institute, 2017, wherein the gains from removing processes have been considered.

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