Pioneering role: Thorsten Becherer, Site Manager at Essity’s Mainz-Kostheim

Thorsten Becherer, Site Manager at Essity’s Mainz-Kostheim, Germany-based plant, explains the latest advances in award winning e-save programme. 

TWM/1: What’s unique about the Mainz-Kostheim plant?

“We are pioneers in terms of sustainability and ecological production in the paper industry, as demonstrated by numerous sustainable innovations in recent years. Our Essity site in Mainz-Kostheim is a blueprint for this. It is the main factory for our Tork brand and its hygiene products, and also one of the largest production sites located in the Rhine-Main area of Germany.

“In 2017, Mainz-Kostheim was the driver behind the world’s first circular economy for used paper towels with the Tork Paper Circle. Within the Tork Paper Circle, used towels are collected separately from customers in the hotel and catering industry, from companies or administrations and returned to the production process at the Kostheim site. In 2023, we achieved a breakthrough on the way to net zero at our site – Essity produced paper CO2-free. In addition to using electricity from renewable energies, the mill is also using green hydrogen for the first time as the final component in a sustainable production process.”

TWM/2: Are developments there a reaction to the energy crisis, customer demand, etc?

“We take over a pioneering role at our site towards net-zero and pave the way with various measures – despite the current crises. We feel responsible to limit the global warming as much as possible. We have therefore already developed a concept to become CO2-free back in 2018. ssNow we are implementing it continuously. For us, energy efficiency and a reduction in energy consumption are key steps to become “climate neutral”.

TWM/3: How has your growth strategy in the Iocal market changed during the past 18 months?

“With the outbreak of the worldwide Corona pandemic, the awareness and social interaction of hygiene has changed and become more important. Paper towels are the most hygienic method of drying their hands. For us at the Mainz-Kostheim site, hygiene and hygiene standards are a top priority in the development of our products. We have been increasing our efforts in the areas of skincare, as well as wiping and cleaning.”

TWM/4: What further plans do you have to grow at this plant and in Germany?

“I would like to underline the innovative character of our site and the absolute determination to make a positive contribution to climate protection. We are convinced that our steps and measurements will strengthen our business in the future. One example here: we are investing in additional capacity for our Tork PeakServe system for washrooms. This is the latest innovation for high-traffic washrooms, where there is a huge focus on cleanliness while at the same time ensuring a smooth flow of visitors and reducing the needed amount of transports.”

TWM/5: What are your plans for increased sustainability, energy efficiencies, plastic reduction, etc?

“As part of the Net Zero Commitment, Essity has committed itself to CO2-neutral production by 2050. We are taking several steps towards this goal in Kostheim. First, we are systematically working on energy efficiency with our e-save programme. Saving energy is crucial and we lead the way by investing in energy-efficient technical solutions and generally changing attitudes towards energy use. Our e-save programme was awarded with the Energy Efficiency Award by the German Energy Agency DENA in 2012. This award is given annually and Essity is one of the first/only in the energy-intensive industry to receive it.

“Secondly, we aim to systematically reduce the use of plastic at our site. In addition, we are taking action towards ‘Green logistics’ for the entire logistics chain. Therefore, we are investing at the site to reduce the number of trucks needed to transport our goods. A good way to do so is for example by compressing our products.”

TWM/6: Do you forecast a continued increase in tissue product use, and if so, what is driving that increase?

“People choose paper towels as the most hygienic method of drying their hands, a fact that now has been confirmed by a study conducted by the University of Leeds in the UK. Hand drying with a towel is optimal for ensuring optimal hand hygiene. Especially since the Corona pandemic, people use washrooms more often to clean their hands.

“In general, we see a high focus on wiping and cleaning. Hence, we are experiencing an increase in tissue and towel products. Gross sales of tissue and towel products are partly driven by higher usage due to higher hygiene standards.”