21.03.2022 - Sustainability

Circular economy at WEPA: waste becomes raw materials

WEPA has been committed to the circular economy for years for conserving resources and protecting the environment. We put recycling at the centre and transform waste into new, usable recyclable materials. Where this is not yet possible, we invest in research and development to further improve the material use of raw materials.

The importance of circular economy at WEPA

A central component of the circular economy at WEPA is the recycling of recovered paper in order to further reduce the use of fresh fibre in our hygiene paper products. This is particularly important with respect to land use, biodiversity and climate protection.

Recovered paper as a valuable secondary raw material

We recycle recovered paper collected from various sources such as files from offices and archives. We strive to keep as many recyclable materials as possible within the cycle for as long as possible. Residues that remain after fibre extraction and that cannot be used for hygiene paper production include, for example, paper clips and plastic film residues. These materials are separated and can be easily recycled as valuable raw materials. Residues that cannot be recycled are used for generating energy.

Since 2016, we have been able to increase the recycling component of our production waste by 17% to the current level of 74%.

Why does WEPA still use virgin fibres?

Our portfolio of products is not completely free of virgin fibres, because despite important developments in hybrid and recycled paper, virgin fibres still play an important role in hygiene paper. Where the use of virgin fibres is necessary, we thus use sustainable, FSC® (FSC-C016151) and PEFC (PEFC/04-32-0775) certified fibres. Already today, about 98% of our virgin fibres are FSC® or PEFC certified. (The rest complies at least with the FSC® Controlled Wood Standard.)

Together with our recycled fibres, virgin fibres thus go to make our current "Fair Fibre" raw material portfolio.

What exactly are the FSC® and PEFC certification systems?

At WEPA, certified fibres bear the label of the two internationally recognised certification systems FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Scheme).

We esteem both certifications to an equal extent because both stand for sustainable forest management. For example, pulp from FSC® and PEFC forests does not contain illegally cleared wood and the use of genetically modified tree species is prohibited.

The measures also ensure that forests particularly worthy of protection are not managed and are thus preserved in the long term.

The majority of our fibres are sourced from suppliers in Europe and South America, with whom we have been working on a trustworthy basis for many years. They consistently improve their own environmental performance and take into account social and environmental sustainability aspects. Together with them, we work on various projects that promote biodiversity among other areas. Here you can find more information about our project Marsh Renaturation with our partner and supplier UPM.

What is the Day of Forests?

As a forest protection organisation, PEFC uses the Day of Forests to draw attention to the importance of sustainable forest management. As outlined above, this is exceedingly relevant and important for WEPA. It is also the reason why we have set ourselves the goal that, until 2025, all of our wood-based virgin fibres will be 100% FSC®- and PEFC-certified.

More information here: Sustainability at WEPA

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