Essity is one of the major buyers in the world of recovered fibers for tissue production. Essity is also sourcing materials containing recycled plastics and recycled cotton fibers.
Recycled or recovered materials tend to be of local or at least regional origin and it is rare that the material is transported longer distances. This means that the recycled fibers collection areas for our tissue production is close to where we have our recycled fiber tissue mills, i.e. in Northern Europe, the US and Mexico.
Although recycled material overall is good from an environmental point of view, non-virgin materials can entail human rights challenges unless properly monitored. Transparency and control of the entire supply chain is difficult to obtain, due to a large number of small suppliers, a long and complex supply chain and a lot of steps involving unqualified labor. The main risks are typically beyond direct suppliers and tend to increase the more upstream you go. Depending on material and region, risks are mainly health and safety combined with wages and benefits, freedom of association, but also in extreme cases corruption, organized crime or human rights.
As in most cases when the main risks are several layers beyond our direct supplier, the most efficient mitigation approach is a mix of activities: support to improve the situation for the industry as a whole through NGOs and industry collaboration initiatives, improving the situation among direct suppliers and possibly also among sub suppliers through audits, trainings, sharing of best practice and not the least careful material quality selection.