27 July 2022: Northumberland toilet roll manufacturer Essity has unveiled plans for a new multimillion-pound paper recycling plant.

The Essity base at Prudhoe Mill is keen to reduce its dependence on virgin wood fibre, which it uses to make products such as toilet rolls, having seen supplies of waste paper drop dramatically in recent years in the wake of technology advancements and offices switching to hybrid or homeworking.

Now the company is planning to replace its 50-year-old recycling plant with a new building believed to represent an investment of more than £30m. It will house the latest in recycling technology that will reduce energy costs and increase the company’s ability to make new products from recycled fibre.

Programme manager Paul Oliver said: “The old Unifibres building has served us well – but both it and some of the equipment it houses have reached the end of their working lives.

“Essity is committed to a more sustainable future, and using recycled paper in our toilet rolls and paper towels has always been central to that. A high proportion of recycled paper in our products is also popular with our supermarket customers and environmentally-aware shoppers.

“In the past, most of our recycled pulp was made from office wastepaper – but availability went down as companies moved away from printers and photocopiers in favour of email and PDFs – and the post-Covid working from home trend has accelerated that.”

A planning application for the multimillion-pound investment has been submitted to Northumberland County Council – with a decision expected in the next couple of months.

By Coreena Ford Chronicle and Journal business writer - Business Live