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The Greenest Tissue Paper in the World

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ONEPLY (The Greenest Tissue Paper in the World)

Reporting period: 2015-12-01 to 2016-10-31

LC Paper 1881, SA. is a family business located on the town of Besalú, in the eastern side of the Catalan Pyrenees. The company produce and supply kraft and tissue paper, combining recycled sources and pulp, to converting companies for further conversion into final products. Today, LC Paper continues to develop technology in the tissue manufacturing sector to meet the needs of today's customers and society and create environmentally sustainable products. In 2015 LC Paper produced 48,000 tons and exported to more than 20 countries. Every product that leaves our factory is certified with the Ecolabel, PSFC and FSC. LC Paper has the ISO 14001, ISO 14067 and ISO 50001.
Annual global tissue consumption is over 33.5 million tons, of which near 20% represents Western Europe’s contribution. The tissue market accounts €44.5bn and rise 4% annually. The growth is expected to reach 3.5 Mt in 2017 for developing countries and 308 kt for developed countries. The greatest consumption of tissue paper is related to toilet paper (61%), tissues (17%), kitchen towels (18%) and paper tableware (4%). The environmental impact of this industry is significant but still not considered a concern in many markets, especially in the emerging markets.
In 2009 LC Paper started a research and innovation process in the manufacture of tissue paper. A re-engineering of the tissue paper manufacturing process has allowed us to achieve an energetic consumption of 1,350 kWh/T and a water consumption of 2.5 m3/T, numbers that are unheard of in the tissue sector. But still more revolutionary is the objective of introducing the OnePly® tissue paper, a monolayer product which reduces the need for raw materials, energy and water. This product is designed with one single player, unlike conventional tissue papers with two or three layers. With one layer one can save from 11% to 23% in fiber, 38% of energy consumption for production and 17% of transport costs compared to conventional 2-layer paper.
Furthermore, OnePly® product aims to offer a competitive alternative to TAD products with a 80% cut in energy and 60% cut in water consumed in the manufacturing process. TAD (Through Air Drying) technology was born in the USA and one-layer TAD products have been widely adopted by the market despite the low efficiency and considerable environmental impact of this process. The OnePly® tissue offers the possibility to develop hygiene products at a 30% lower cost than conventional products, and 60% lower than TAD, with premium characteristics and the best possible environmental life cycle.
The envisaged premium characteristics of final OnePly® products can only be achieved thought the wise tuning of tissue paper manufacturing process combined with the adequate embossing process. Aware that converting companies are not prepared for producing premium products from high grammage tissue papers such as OnePly®, we have designed, validated and patented an embossing process tailored to OnePly®. The main objectives of this project are (1) to bring this innovative embossing process to an industrial scale and (2) to optimize the OnePly® production process in our papermaking machines. The converting line incorporating the new embossing process will be built in our plant, validated and optimized. LC Paper aims at reaching the highest productivity and efficiency in the tissue industry as well as successfully introducing OnePly® based products in the market.
The first period of the project has been devoted to 1) design and build the industrial tissue converting line which integrates the new embossing process, 2) optimize the manufacturing process of OnePly® tissue paper in the paper machines, 3) design and build the new industrial building in LC Paper’s plant that accommodates the converting line and 4) undertake commercial actions to ensure the successful commercialization of OnePly® product both in the Away-from-Home market (i.e. industrial and commercial) and the consumer market.
The embossing machine has been entirely designed and assembled by LC Paper. This step is part of an industrial converting line containing other machines that perform conventional converting steps, namely unwinding of the Jumbo paper reel before embossing, rewinding in smaller diameter reels and cutting (after embossing). Nevertheless, LC Paper in collaboration with the machine manufacturer, have adapted these conventional steps in order to optimize the performance and production of finished OnePly® products considering the particular characteristics of this tissue paper and the new embossing process.
The new building at LC Paper’s plant is made of precast concrete and has dimensions of 25 m width, 42.8 m long and 13 m height. It was completed in July 2016 while the bridge crane was installed afterwards. At November 2016 the converting line is in place and a test plan is being followed to fine-tune the performance of the line.
In parallel to the previous work, the production process for obtaining “raw” OnePly® paper in the papermaking machines has been optimized for producing diverse final qualities. The papermaking machines will feed the converting line with big reels of this “raw” OnePly® paper.
OnePly® is a product developed by LC Paper, aiming to achieve the goals of TAD paper quality with a much lower energy cost. This product is designed with one single ply, unlike conventional tissue papers with two or three layers. Since the minimum weight established for this product is above 30 g/m2, it ensures that there are no free spaces between fibres, reaching a good internal capillary. The intense creping operation performed in the papermaking machine leads to a product with excellent absorption capacity and softness. The desired bulk can be easily achieved with a proper embossing process.
The embossing operation is synergic with the creping, and has similar characteristics. The paper gets a surface modification, transforming a planar object to three-dimensional. The embossing modification is substantial, as the paper fibres suffer a vertical elongation, breaking some fibres and displacing others, affecting the paper resistance. An embossing process that is not the adequate to the characteristics of the paper leads to poor embossing quality while also dust is produced by the fibre breaks. Our new approach allows fibres to swell easily. This solution led to the extremely interesting tissue quality (similar to TAD) while maintaining energy costs controlled (lower than alternative approaches), and avoiding the dust production. The final result is a paper with more absorption per gram than the TAD, smoother, and with a better price.
Transportation costs are significantly reduced with OnePly® as it enables fitting more meters of product in less volume compared to TAD (2.3x volume). This is especially important in AfH market which requires a transport of jumbo reels instead of the finished product. The impact is both on energy consumption in transport and on price. Compared to conventional tissue paper the OnePly® has a transport cost which is equal or slightly lower.
OnePly® allows to design new products with lower costs in raw materials, energy, manufacturing and converting and a much lower environmental impact. If consumers changed to OnePly® tissue our estimations show that the environmental impact would be reduced in almost a half compared to standard tissue (12.7 g vs. 22 g CO2 per day per person).