Key properties are: Absorbency, basis weight, thickness (bulk), brightness, stretch, appearance and comfort.
Tissue paper is produced on a paper machine that has a single large steam heated drying cylinder (yankee dryer) fitted with a hot air hood. The raw material is paper pulp. The yankee cylinder is sprayed with adhesives to make the paper stick. Creping is done by the yankee's doctor blade that is scraping the dry paper off the cylinder surface. The crinkle (crêping) is controlled by the strength of the adhesive, geometry of the doctor blade, speed difference between the yankee and final section of the paper machine and paper pulp characteristics.
The highest water absorbing applications are produced with a through air drying (TAD) process. These papers contain high amounts of NBSK and CTMP. This gives a bulky paper with high wet tensile strength and good water holding capacity. The TAD process uses about twice the energy compared with conventional drying of paper.
Hygienic tissue paper
Hygienic tissue paper is commonly used for facial tissue (paper handkerchiefs), napkins, bathroom tissue and household towels. Paper has been used for hygiene purposes for centuries, but tissue paper as we know it today was not produced in USA before the mid-1940s. In Western Europe large scale industrial production started in the beginning of 1960s.
Facial tissue (paper handkerchiefs) refers to a class of soft, absorbent, disposable paper that is suitable for use on the face. The term is commonly used to refer to the type of facial tissue, usually sold in boxes, that is designed to facilitate the expulsion of nasal mucus from the nose although it may refer to other types of facial tissues including napkins and wipes.
The first tissue handkerchiefs were introduced in the 1920s. They have been refined over the years, especially for softness and strength, but their basic design has remained constant. Today each person in Western Europe uses about 200 tissue handkerchiefs a year, with a variety of 'alternative' functions including the treatment of minor wounds, the cleaning of face and hands and the cleaning of spectacles.
The importance of the paper tissue on minimising the spread of an infection has been highlighted in light of fears over a swine flu epidemic. In the UK, for example, the Government ran a campaign called “Catch it, bin it, kill it”, which encouraged people to cover their mouth with a paper tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Paper towels are the second largest application for tissue paper in the consumer sector. This type of paper has usually a basis weight of 20 to 24 g/m2. Normally such paper towels are two-ply. This kind of tissue can be made from 100% chemical pulp to 100% recycled fibre or a combination of the two. Normally, some long fibre chemical pulp is included to improve strength.
Wrapping tissue is a type of thin, translucent paper used for wrapping presents and cushioning fragile items.
Rolls of toilet paper have been available since the end of the 19th century. Today, more than 20 billion rolls of toilet tissue are used each year in Western Europe.
Table napkins can be made of tissue paper. These are made from one up to four plies and in a variety of qualities, sizes, folds, colours and patterns depending on intended use and prevailing fashions. The composition of raw materials varies a lot from deinked to chemical pulp depending on quality. Tablet tissue papers also available in the market.
Out of the world's estimated production of 21 million tonnes of tissue, Europe produces approximately six million tonnes.
The European tissue market is worth approximately 10 billion Euros annually and is growing at a rate of around 3%. The European market represents around 23% of the global market. Of the total paper and board market tissue accounts for 10%. In North America, people are consuming around three times as much tissue as in Europe.
In Europe, the industry is represented by The European Tissue Symposium (ETS), a trade association. The members of ETS represent the majority of tissue paper producers throughout Europe and about 90% of total European tissue production. ETS was founded in 1971 and is based in Brussels since 1992.
The paper tissue industry, along with the rest of the paper manufacturing sector, has worked hard to minimise its impact on the environment. Recovered fibres now represent some 46.5% of the paper industry’s raw materials. The industry relies heavily on biofuels (about 50% of its primary energy) and it is highly energy-efficient. Its specific primary energy consumption has decreased by 16% and the specific electricity consumption has decreased by 11%, due to measures such as improved process technology and investment in combined heat and power (CHP). Specific carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels decreased by 25% due to process-related measures and the increased use of low-carbon and biomass fuels. Once consumed, most forest-based paper products start a new life as recycled material or biofuel
EDANA, the trade body for the non-woven absorbent hygiene products industry (which includes products such as household wipes for use in the home) has reported annually on the industry’s environmental performance since 2005. The industry’s impact on the environment is, in fact, relatively small. For example, less than 1% of all commercial wood production ends up as wood pulp in absorbent hygiene products. In addition, the industry contributes less than 0.5% of all solid waste and around 2% of municipal solid waste (MSW) compared with paper and board, garden waste and food waste which each comprise between 18 and 20 percent of MSW.
There has been a great deal of interest, in particular, in the use of recovered fibres to manufacture new tissue paper products. However, whether this is actually better for the environment than using new fibres is open to question. A Life Cycle Assessment study indicated that neither fibre type can be considered environmentally preferable. In this study both new fibre and recovered fibre offer environmental benefits and shortcomings.
Total environmental impacts vary case by case, depending on for example the location of the tissue paper mill, availability of fibres close to the mill, energy options and waste utilization possibilities. There are opportunities to minimise environmental impacts when using each fibre type.
When using recovered fibres, it is beneficial to:
- Source fibres from integrated deinking operations to eliminate the need for thermal drying of fibre or long distance transport of wet pulp,
- Manage deinked sludge in order to maximise beneficial applications and minimise waste burden on society; and
- Select the recovered paper depending on the end-product requirements and that also allows the most efficient recycling process.
When using new fibres, it is beneficial to:
- Manage the raw material sources to maintain legal, sustainable forestry practices by implementing processes such as forest certification systems and chain of custody standards; and
- Consider opportunities to introduce new and more renewable energy sources and increase the use of biomass fuels to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.
When using either fibre type, it is beneficial to:
- Improve energy efficiency in tissue manufacturing;
- Examine opportunities for changing to alternative, non fossil based sources, of energy for tissue manufacturing operations
- Deliver products that maximise functionality and optimize consumption; and
- Investigate opportunities for alternative product disposal systems that minimize the environmental impact of used products.
The Confederation of European Paper Industries has published reports focusing on the industry’s environmental credentials. In 2002, it noted that “a little over 60% of the pulp and paper produced in Europe comes from mills certified under one of the internationally recognised eco-management schemes”. There are a number of ‘eco-labels’ designed to help consumers identify paper tissue products which meet such environmental standards. Eco-labelling entered mainstream environmental policy-making in the late seventies, first with national schemes such as the German Blue Angel programme, to be followed by the Nordic Swan (1989). In 1992 a European eco-labelling regulation, known as the EU Flower, was also adopted. The stated objective is to support sustainable development, balancing environmental, social and economical criteria.
Types of eco-labels
There are three types of eco-labels, each defined by ISO (International Organization for Standardization).
Type I: ISO 14024
This type of eco-label is one where the criteria are set by third parties (not the manufacturer). They are in theory based on life cycle1 impacts and are typically based on pass/fail criteria. The one that has European application is the EU Flower.
Type II : ISO 14021
These are based on the manufacturers or retailers own declarations. Well known amongst these are claims of “100% recycled” in relation to tissue/paper.
Type III : ISO 14025
These claims give quantitative details of the impact of the product based on its life cycle. Sometimes known as EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations), these labels are based on an independent review of the life cycle of the product. The data supplied by the manufacturing companies are also independently reviewed. The most well known example in the paper industry is the Paper Profile. You can tell a Paper Profile meets the Type III requirements when the verifiers logo is included on the document.
- Paulapuro, Hannu (2000). "3". Paper and Board grades. Papermaking Science and Technology 18. Finland: Fapet Oy. pp. 75–92. ISBN 952-5216-18-7
- Nanko, Hirko; Button, Allan; Hillman, Dave (2005). The World of Market Pulp. Appleton, WI, USA: WOMP, LLC. pp. 44–46. ISBN 0-615-13013-5.
- European Tissue Symposium. "Tissue Product Properties", Retrieved on 2010-01-02.
- Department of Health "Respiratory and hand hygiene guidance", retrieved on 2009-06-05.
- Paulapuro, Hannu (2000). "3". Paper and Board grades. Papermaking Science and Technology 18. Finland: Fapet Oy. p. 80. ISBN 952-5216-18-7
- European Tissue Symposium "Profile of the ETS". Retrieved on 2010-01-02
- European Tissue Symposium "Facts and Figures". Retrieved on 2009-06-05
- European Tissue Symposium "ETS: About Us". Retrieved on 2010-01-02
- Paper Online "Environmental Issues" Retrieved on 2010-02-04
- European Disposables and Nonwoven Association "Sustainability and Absorbent Hygiene Products" Retrieved on 2009-06-05
- European Tissue Symposium "Sustainable Use of New and Recovered Fibre Types" Retrieved on 2009-06-05
- Paper Online "Environmental Reports" Retrieved on 2010-02-04
- European Tissue Symposium "European-Wide Tissue Eco labels" Retrieved on 2010-01-02