2023 journal article
Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Premium and Ultra Hygiene Tissue Products in the United States
BIORESOURCES, 18(2), 4006–4031.
Under the controversial concern of using virgin fibers in hygiene tissue products, mostly Bleached Eucalyptus Kraft (BEK) and Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft (NBSK), consumers are responding by purchasing self-labeled sustainable products. As of today, there are no established sustainability reported results to inform consumers about the carbon footprint of hygiene tissue. To fill this gap, this study used Life Cycle Assessment to evaluate the environmental impacts across the supply chain (cradle to gate) to produce Premium and Ultra grades of bath tissue, including the production of feedstock, pulp production, and tissue production stages, with focus on Global Warming Potential (GWP). The results showed that one air-dried metric ton (ADmt) of BEK pulp had an associated GWP of 388 kgCO2eq, whereas one ADmt of NBSK pulp presented values ranging between 448 and 596 kgCO2eq, depending on the emissions allocation methodology used. It was estimated that the GWP of one finished metric ton of tissue weighted average could range from 1,392 to 3,075 kgCO2eq depending on mill location, electricity source, and machine technology. These results provide an understanding of the factors affecting the environmental impact of hygiene tissue products, which could guide manufacturers and consumers on decisions that impact their carbon footprint.