Promoting the Wonderful World of Tissue

As tissue makers, or anyone working anywhere in the long supply chain of tissue products from Fibers to Machines to Finished Products, we can all be justifiably proud of the business we are in.

Hugh O'Brian

We have a great story to tell about tissue but, unfortunately, we don’t do so well telling it. In fact, we are pretty bad at it, especially considering how many positive aspects there are to the tissue business.

AFTER THINKING ABOUT THIS FOR MANY DECADES, I have decided to do something about it. I’m a papermaker by education and experience going back more than 30 years. I also became a specialized journalist in the tissue business, as well as having the idea to create the Tissue World events, where I served as the conference chairman from the start in 1993 until late last year. So this initiative has been on my mind since at least the 1990s. Now I have the time and the motivation to do it. Before I introduce this innovation, and how I plan to go about it, let’s first look at just a few positive points about tissue.

HIGH-TECHNOLOGY: The tissue paper products we make are very advanced, high-tech, ultra-light materials, produced at incredibly fast speeds on some of the world’s largest machines. Production speeds can reach 120 km/hr or more, while running a sheet as light as 15 g/m2. To do this takes skill and advanced control technology. Although perhaps hard to confirm, it has been said that the technology built into a tissue machine is on a level with that of an airliner.

HEALTH & HYGIENE: For much of the world, our humble tissue products serve an extremely essential role for health, hygiene and cleaning. In our bathrooms; our kitchens; our workplaces; our hospitals; in every part of lives, tissue is there in one way or another. Hans Rosling, the famous Swedish professor of human health, has stated that “hygiene is a very important factor in human health . . . the last major cholera outbreak in Chile was traced back to dirty dish cloths . . . that is a fact . . . perhaps paper kitchen towels would have been useful in avoiding this.” Can you imagine living even a single day without tissue products? Try it someday. When you don’t have them, you certainly miss them.

RENEWABLE RAW MATERIALS: The best aspect of the tissue business, by far, is that all these products and benefits come from the world’s most fantastic resource: Renewable Wood Fibers. What other major manufacturing industry can simply grow new raw materials? Big oil and plastics certainly can’t. The steel and car businesses certainly can’t. We can! And it’s a very big positive that we should talk about more often.

FOR TISSUE, AROUND 50% OF THE FIBERS USED ARE ‘SECONDARY’ FIBERS coming from recycled paper such as office papers and packaging. Fibers can normally be recycled 4-5 times before they are no longer usable, and the tissue business does a great job of using these precious raw materials until they are too tiny to make paper. What other major industry sources almost half its raw material from recycling? None that I know of.

OF COURSE, THE SECONDARY FIBERS ARE ORIGINALLY PRIMARY FIBERS COMING FROM TREES. Most, but not all, of these primary fibers are sourced from responsibly managed tree farms which grow trees as a crop, like corn on a longer growing cycle. Young, growing, renewable trees like these are the world’s best CO2 capturing tools. They take in CO2 and split it into carbon (C), which makes up the tree material, and oxygen (O2) which lets us breathe. So giant quantities of greenhouse gases are captured and oxygen is given off. Nice job, tree farms! TISSUESTORY.COM - To tell our story honestly and factually, while at the same time adding a bit of humor and WOW to the mix, I have been working with several key visionary companies to create Tissue Story. Perini Journal, I am pleased to say, will be a Founding Member, along with about 10-15 other organizations. If done correctly, this will give tissue products valuable benefits by helping us:

1. EDUCATE consumers, students, politicians, etc. to BUILD APPRECIATION & VALUE for tissue products

2. Promote the POSITIVE ENVIRONMENTAL side of tissue, fibers, and tree farms

3. Raise awareness of HYGIENE, HEALTH & CLEANING benefits tissue provides the world

4. RECRUIT the NEXT GENERATION of talented employees

5. Publicize the advanced HIGH-TECH aspects of tissue and tissue production

6. Allow members of the industry to LEARN Basic tissue science via a Tissue Technology Textbook

7. SHARE Advanced Learnings to train staff on a deeper level

8. BOOST our PRIDE . . . in our industry, jobs and our tissue paper products

9. Make AMBASSADORS out of all tissue industry people! DON’T GO THE WEBSITE YET; it won’t be live until early next year.

But if you have ideas about content please get in touch with me at “OBrian@TissueStory.com.” In the months since I began discussing this new initiative, every conversation brings a new angle to our wonderful story. It’s a good story. You’re part of it. Let’s tell it well.

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