Tork PaperCircle® – A one of a kind recycling service

Project Description

Essity, Europe’s largest supplier of hand towels, is committed to contributing to a circular society, and has developed a service to help customers close the loop for their used hand towels. By collecting and recycling them into new tissue products, the carbon footprint is reduced by 40%*. Tork PaperCircle® is the first ever recycling service for paper hand towels.
Good partnerships are crucial for any circular initiative; you cannot go circular without collaboration.

Tork PaperCircle® has established close relationships with customers, facility service companies and recycling companies, as well as among our own mills, with benefits for all involved. Even the end consumers are involved, as they have an important part to play.

Project Purpose

We are currently running pilot programmes in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium and are already in the process of starting more customer pilots in these countries. The service will be implemented in Sweden in 2019, followed by further expansion in Europe within the next two to three years. With Europe’s largest network of production mills, together we can  ensure that our customers can close the loop for their used paper hand towels locally.

This initiative is also leading the way in the shift that is happening towards a different handling of resources. We are aiming to get paper hand towels approved as recyclable under the
EN643 standard, allowing anybody to recycle hand towels on an industrial scale.

Project Evaluation

Tork PaperCircle® was commended by the European Paper Recycling Awards 2017 in the European Parliament, and presented with two Innovation Awards at Interclean 2018. Tork PaperCircle ® also won the Sustainability category at the 2018 European Cleaning & Hygiene Awards Furthermore, Tork PaperCircle® is an important innovation for sustainability and circularity – both for Essity and for our customers. For Essity as a concrete step towards a circular society, and for our customers as a way to become more sustainable and circular, and to be able to communicate this to their employees and partners.

*Based on a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for Europe, where the avoided processes have been taken into account, conducted by Essity and verified by IVL, Swedish Environmental Research Institute Ltd. 2017

Kersti Strandqvist

Senior Vice President Sustainability Essity

At Essity we are committed to contributing to a sustainable and circular society. This is an important objective in our business strategy, which is aligned with the UN sustainable development goals. This innovative service is a concrete way to contribute – especially to SDG 12 and 13.

Circularity is an important part of our strategy, for us as well as for our customers, and we work in partnership with them to reduce CO2 emissions. This means that through designing for circularity we can create more from less and reduce resource use, while maintaining or enhancing the performance of our hygiene and health products. With Tork PaperCircle® we are reducing the carbon footprint by 40%*.

Main features:

CO2 Emissions saved (tCO2)

59* tonnes, potentially increasing to 2,500* tonnes per year by 2020.


Minor investments e.g for piping to optimize the recycling process.


Commerzbank, Gegenbauer, Mandauschas as well as our own mills.