October 7 2021
Sustainability is an essential and fully achievable target for tissue. You just need to talk to the right people…
Sustainable tissue: nothing else will do
Sustainable industrial production is now essential for the planet’s survival as an ecosystem. Limiting impact, recycling, reusing and lengthening a product’s average lifecycle are essential factors for every company today. Time is up for the linear economy…
Sustainability is fundamental because it shapes consumption in those supply chains that directly extract and process natural resources (tissue is a perfect example), but it is also essential in those sectors that have nothing to do with the direct exploitation of natural resources. The environmental impact of product manufacturing systems is number three on the list of concerns expressed by European citizens in a 2020 survey. The same study notes that a large proportion of consumers do not have confidence in the green promises made by companies, and environmental responsibility remains their top expectation of brands. Four out of five Europeans even ask the banking sector (apparently removed from the issue of environmental impact) to make a concrete commitment to limit its environmental footprint. Ecological matters clearly determine consumption choices and the affinity between consumers and brands.
With banking in mind, the financial market is sending out unequivocal signals, as certified in a report by Morgan Stanley, that today’s investors usually count ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) among key factors when choosing investments. 57% of those questioned in the Morgan Stanley sample expect that in the future they will only invest where formalized ESG commitments have been made.
Sustainability is – in short – a 360° value and tissue must play its part.
How tissue production can become green: talk to the right people
The companies which form the iT’s Tissue network have always been eco-trend-setters in their respective fields, implementing strategies, solutions and innovation that make the sector increasingly eco-friendly.
So what are the key ways to move production in the right direction? Read on:
How tissue production can become green: eliminating waste
During processing, scraps of raw material are generated that until recently exited the production flow to become simple waste. Even if separate collection – including within plant buildings – makes it possible to recover all that is correctly disposed of, such good practice does not, in itself, limit waste. Today, choosing machinery built to a level of mechanical precision which reduces production waste means that, right from the start-up phase, every last square centimeter of paper makes it into the production chain to be converted.
The adoption of logics that monitor each and every phase of the production process allows the detection of anomalies and predicts with absolute accuracy the moments in production in which (for example) an irregularity on a reel will affect the following step. In this way, the plant’s production chain will be able to interrupt a given operation autonomously to avoid sub-standard production, drastically limiting the amount of material to be discarded.
How tissue production can become green: energy optimization
Production lines that run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year consume a lot of energy. Each small step towards limiting energy consumption therefore represents a great achievement for the environment, especially if we consider that every single step is followed by another step and then another…
Electricity, mechanical energy and thermal energy must all be considered when looking to limit consumption. Energy efficiency is, first and foremost, a fundamental factor that must be integral to the design itself. It is not possible to design virtuous energy solutions without having a clear focus on the future. And multidisciplinary knowledge of both the sector and the functioning of the machine as a whole is required. The contribution of open and innovative minds in the design phase, interacting with expert technical designers and operators is the foundation for the development of ecologically beneficial projects, which can shift standards of energy consumption and dissipation towards sustainability.
Energy optimization, however, is also logistical optimization, which is achieved when the systems involved in the different stages of production are able to communicate and be (literally) placed side by side in order to run in a connected fashion.
How tissue production can become green: the other meanings of sustainability
Sustainability is not only about attention to the environment, but also attention to people: structuring a safe, pleasant and comfortable work environment for operators. Creating sustainability means intervening in the design of workplaces, paying attention not only to the functionality of systems, but also to the layout of spaces, to operational logistics, to the safety of line maintenance or simple adjustment operations. After all, people are part of the environment too.
Sustainability is also about focusing attention on the rational use of the production site, starting with tackling over-construction: it is important to set the tone for new models of industrial
architecture in which production lines are conceived to reduce the space they require (and therefore the size of the plants which house them).
How tissue production can become green: reducing materials
The decision to give up using a material that has for decades been considered indispensable for producing toilet paper, paper napkins, handkerchiefs and paper for other domestic uses is never taken lightly: in the face of a new production model, complex machinery must be adapted. Designing and building (and, conversely, choosing to adopt) industrial systems capable of evolving and changing is something that only few are capable of doing.
The same can be said for replacing materials – from production to packaging – with more ecological alternatives: choosing a solution that can be updated in the future to become increasingly green is a sustainability option that is at the heart of industrial, social and environmental responsibility.
The history of tissue, from the adoption of the first recycled papers to the development of bleaching processes without the use of additives, from the elimination of the core to biodegradable packs, from abandoning glues to reducing space, is a story of alliance between consumers, producers and companies who make the machines that render all these innovations possible. It includes machines designed when certain possibilities just weren’t conceivable but which, thanks to forward-thinking design, have been able to adapt to guarantee everyone a future of greater harmony between consumption and the environment.
How tissue production can become green: intelligent processes
Artificial Intelligence and the Industry 4.0 revolution are not mere slogans; they are the necessary conditions for tissue production to be increasingly sustainable. Here are some examples:
- machines and individual parts that interact
- smart systems that learn, predict and plan consumption, procurement and maintenance
- diagnostic tools capable of carrying out continuous monitoring and enabling operators to intervene remotely in the set-up and configuration of systems
All this benefits the environment because it optimizes consumption and transport, minimizes interruptions and allows production planning without overloading the rest of the supply chain.
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