In line with trends seen across other industries, social, ethical and environmental considerations influenced tissue and hygiene in 2015. Strong media attention was focused on the negative environmental impact from wipes, urging consumers not to flush their used wipes down the toilet, while the nature of the category, with products derived from trees, meant that sustainable forestry was a topic of concern in relation to the industry. Accordingly, a number of players in tissue and hygiene went to great lengths to advocate their commitment to environmentally friendly and sustainable business practices.
In the past, this has focused on the development of eco-friendly products, such as those from niche local players Greencane Paper and Sulco; however, this extended across the supply chain for many of the major players, with Asaleo Care opening an eco-friendly production facility at its Kawerau location, which through the utilisation of enhanced technology, professes to cut greenhouse gas emission by up to 40% through the use of electricity to drive turbines. Additionally, the company has made a commitment to ensure that its products are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, while rival Cottonsoft went to great efforts to advertise its parent company Asia Pulp & Paper’s decision to develop a best practice model in conjunction with Greenpeace for its Indonesian forestry holdings. Furthermore, this has grown to include efforts to reduce environmental harm from plastic packaging, with all the major players in the category signing up to the New Zealand Packaging Accord to ensure best practice in this area.
Sustainability and eco-friendly business practices have extended beyond incorporation into new product developments as a means of product differentiation in a crowded industry, to become an integral part of these company’s brand identities. While the utilisation of recycled resources for production will continue to grow, the ability for this to service the entire industry is limited, and thus greater emphasis will continue to be placed on sustainable practices across the supply chain.
Manufacturers are expected to more-aggressively market their environmentally friendly business practices, particularly with regard to product packaging, to leverage on growing environmental awareness.