Tissue360 - Spring/Summer 2014 - (Page 6)
A recycled fiber shortage?
Beginning on page 16 of this issue is an article exploring the possible shortage of recycled fibers
developing off and on around the world. What this means for tissue is not so clear as with some of the
other grades such as corrugated and packaging, but tissue certainly is not immune to the many problems
that a global recycled fiber shortage could bring.
Somewhere near 40 percent of the tissue produced in North America is made with recovered fiber,
and of course most of that is aimed at away-from-home markets, except perhaps some of the "premium"
grades being made with recycled fiber using technologies such as Voith's ATMOS.
In North America, 65 to 70 percent of the tissue market is in the at-home sector, with virgin fiber
accounting for about 80 percent of that production. The away-from-home sector represents about 30 percent
of tissue product demand in North America.
Some industry observers believe that tissue has reached the global and U.S. maximum recycled fiber
level, and probably will begin to decline in the not too distant future. There's a distinct reason for that, of
course-we're making less P&W papers, and that's the traditional source for tissue, especially away-fromhome grades. As markets have shifted, use of P&W papers in tissue has become progressively uneconomical.
Most likely, if recovered fiber shortages begin reaching into the tissue industry, especially impacting
the away-from-home sector, producers will turn more to virgin fiber, which right now is in plentiful supply,
and could become even more plentiful in coming years. China, in fact, already one of the world's largest
tissue producers, took the virgin fiber route from the very beginning, and is expected to keep going in
that direction into the future.
Another problem directly related to the fact that recycling rates in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. are approaching the ceiling of what can be collected is the pronounced decline in recovered fiber quality. Recycling
formats such as single stream, designed to make collections easier, have undermined quality. Fiber also
often doesn't meet mill specifications. Mixing many grades of paper and board creates a sorting nightmare.
Fiber quality deterioration is especially damaging to tissue lines. But switching more to virgin fiber going
forward also creates potential problems for tissue producers. In some cases, extensive modifications have to
be made to the stock preparation and paper machine areas. Then, of course, there are cost considerations.
Finally, many environmentalists basically don't like the idea of virgin fiber in tissue and towel products,
mainly because tissue cannot be or is not effectively recycled. Flushing a virgin wood fiber product down
the toilet and/or tossing it in the garbage for landfilling in many camps is considered an environmental
"sin," and is the main driver behind the push for alternatives fibers such as bamboo in tissue and toweling.
Editorial Director/Associate Publisher, Tissue360°.
Editorial Director/Associate Publisher
PUBLISHER Pam Blasetti
INTEGRATED MEDIA DIRECTOR
firstname.lastname@example.org (352) 333-3345
LARRY N. MONTAGUE, President & CEO, TAPPI
ERIC FLETTY, VP Operations, TAPPI
Editorial Director/Associate Publisher, Paper360 °
DESIGN Sunny Goel
MONICA SHAW, Editorial Director, TAPPI Journal
ELISE HITCHCOCK, Online Exclusives Editor
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Tissue360 - Spring/Summer 2014
Automatic Handling International, Inc.
Tissue Industry News
Spraying Systems Co
Success in New Hampshire: Gorham P&T Optimizes New Tissue Machine Production to Premium Quality
OpTest Equipment. Inc.
Are We Running Out of Recycled Fiber?
Improve the Effectiveness of Your Steam Showers
Mechadyne Machine, Inc
Myron L Company
Tissue360 - Spring/Summer 2014