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The Future of the Paper Industry

By Giorgia Giove

October 21, 2019

 

Since its introduction in the late 1800s, toilet paper has come a long way. Today, it’s a necessary means for maintaining hygiene at home and beyond. Yet, while paper products meet basic needs, the purchasing process can be complex due to the presence of so many options on the market. Understanding the latest advancements and upcoming changes in paper production can help facility managers find the right solutions for their organizations.

 

So, what’s next for the paper industry? Read on to learn about some recent advancements, key trends and demands that are shaping the away-from-home market.

 

Sustainable Packaging

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), packaging alone totals nearly a third of municipal solid waste. In 2015, packaging for food, beverages, medications, cosmetics and other products amounted to 77.9 tons of landfill waste. Retailers are increasingly looking for ways to reduce the volume of packaging used for products. For example, a supermarket in Thailand is wrapping vegetables in banana leaves to drastically limit plastic waste.

 

A supermarket in Thailand is wrapping vegetables in banana leaves to drastically limit plastic waste. Image Source: PERFECT HOMES CHIANGMAI

 

So how does this affect the paper industry? Multi-roll packages of toilet paper and paper towels are traditionally wrapped in plastic that ends up in landfills. However, sustainability concerns are driving a change to this approach. The grocery chain Aldi is one example—its private label toilet paper plans to use recyclable paper as wrapping. The company currently plans that 174 of its stores in the UK will test the new initiative. If implemented across all of Aldi’s UK stores, it could save up to 935 tons of plastic each year.

 

With a major player like Aldi jumping into the fight against plastic packaging waste, the away-from-home market will also need to push to be more sustainable. Sustainability is not a trend; it’s here to stay. Finding ways to reduce unwanted waste, such as reducing the thickness of plastic film or using craft paper packaging, can help paper manufacturers and their customers be more environmentally-friendly.

 

Paper that Supports Restroom Cleanliness

From influencers taking selfies in trendy public restrooms to the popularity of online review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, it’s more important than ever for businesses to prioritize cleanliness, including within their bathrooms. Given that a national Harris Poll found that negative online review about restrooms would deter 89% of Americans from visiting a restaurant, it’s clear that regular upkeep and restocking are essential in these spaces. The same survey revealed that reviews mentioning foul odors, clogged toilets and out-of-order restrooms or stalls were the most problematic issues.

 

While customers’ demands for clean restrooms are certainly justified, there are many organizations that fail to keep these facilities looking their best around the clock. Facility managers looking for a helping hand can now turn to toilet paper that, once in contact with toilet water, activates safe microorganisms to eat away built-up dirt in pipes. After about a month, this solution can reduce the occurrence of toilet clogs and their negative side effects, like odors and out-of-order stalls.

 

Restroom cleaning can fall by the wayside if the culture of the organization does not stress the importance of ongoing maintenance and how it is tied to guest satisfaction.

 

Paper manufacturers must recognize that many businesses face challenges when it comes to restroom maintenance. Turnover is typically high in the commercial cleaning and foodservice industries, which can impact training and staff availability. Restroom cleaning can fall by the wayside if the culture of the organization does not stress the importance of ongoing maintenance and how it is tied to guest satisfaction. Thus, manufacturers will need to continue to find ways to create products that support restroom hygiene and cleanliness.

 

Innovation for the Future

Toilet paper, paper towels and other paper products will always be in-demand products for facilities like office buildings, hotels, restaurants, airports, healthcare facilities and more. However, there are numerous options available on the commercial and industrial market, which can make it difficult to differentiate one brand from another. Increasingly, facility managers are looking for products that can support sustainability and hygiene goals while remaining affordable. The industry has evolved exponentially since the late 1800s and will continue to innovate to meet customer demands. From more sustainable packaging to toilet paper that helps combat toilet clogs, innovations will continue to shape the away-from-home paper industry.

 

Giorgia Giove is the Marketing Manager for the Away from Home business at Sofidel, a world leader in the manufacture of paper for hygienic and domestic use, including its Papernet brand. For more information, visitwww.papernet.com/americas.