Tork first to uncover impact of composting hand towels

05 Dec 2019

Through life cycle assessment, Tork has found composting hand towels with commercial composters instead of disposing in landfill reduces greenhouse gas emissions by around 50 percent.

Life cycle assessment was completed by thinkstep-anz as part of new Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) on a number of Tork products. Each EPD outlines the Global Warming Potential (carbon footprint), which quantifies the potential of greenhouse gases – such as carbon dioxide and methane – to increase absorption of heat reaching Earth’s atmosphere, intensifying the natural greenhouse effect.

In 2016, Tork were the first tissue company in Australasia to produce EPDs. A published EPD is an independently verified and registered document that communicates transparent and comparable information about the environmental impact of a product through its entire life cycle.

Tork regularly add more products to its EPDs which now include some interesting statistics about composting hand towels. The most popular Tork Conventional, Jumbo and Mini Jumbo toilet paper products, Multifold and Ultraslim hand towels, Roll and Kitchen towel products, as well as Xpressnap dispenser napkins, have all been analysed.

"We were attracted to EPDs for Tork because of their transparency, credibility and ability to address the product's entire life cycle. We have both quantified our environmental impacts and disclosed this information publicly for a range of products," said Rochelle Lake, Head of Marketing, B2B. "EPDs also allow us to identify ‘hot spots’ within our value chain -  where improvements can be made to reduce environmental impact, such as through composting of hand towels."

The EPDs also show that Tork toilet paper and hand towels that are manufactured at Kawerau have been produced with 64 to 76 percent renewable energy from cradle-to-grave. This is a direct result of using geothermal steam in the paper making process and also of New Zealand’s high proportion of renewable energy within the grid.

The recent $23 million upgrade of the Kawerau facility is now undergoing further assessment and additional EPDs will be available in 2020. With improved efficiencies and less packaging waste they are sure to outline a further reduction in climate impact.