Market demand sparked innovation

Georgia Pacific invented a sustainable technology for high-premium tissue quality and refreshed their brand’s position.
Today Valmet can sell, manufacture, and install this patented Advantage™ eTAD™ technology outside North America.

author: TissueMAG

Industry Insight by:


Georgia-Pacific is one of the biggest tissue producers in North America. However, in early 2000s as premium structured private label started to grow, the Quilted Northern brand of Georgia-Pacific came under tremendous pressure.
At that time, Quilted Northern was produced with conventional 2-ply dry crepe technology and research in 2010 showed that both consumers and retailers struggled with positioning the brand – it underperformed as a premium brand and was not price competitive as a value brand.

Joe Miller, Vice President of Research and Technology Georgia-Pacific.
Joe Miller, Vice President of Research and Technology Georgia-Pacific.

Retailers and consumers asked for differentiation and given that the company already held the number one position in the value segment, competing with themselves was not an option – instead product redesign and brand repositioning was the only alternative.
Joe Miller, Vice President of Research and Technology at Georgia-Pacific reflects back: “We had a technology that was invented and available, we had the experimentation capability in a pilot facility, and we saw the need. We did some product design work to hit that need which resulted in the invention of an ultra soft and strong product”.

The technology was something that Georgia-Pacific had worked on since 1994 but truly defined in 2003 with the invention of eTAD – a paper making process for energy efficient technically advanced drying. It was more energy efficient than TAD and consumed less capital. It also enabled the potential for dry crepe machines to be converted to this new technology.

With the Advantage eTAD technology it is possible to achieve high-premium quality utilizing pressing in combination with Rush Transfer

Quilted Northern Ultra Soft and Strong.
Quilted Northern Ultra Soft and Strong.

Georgia-Pacific decided that a re-build of their dry crepe machines was a cost-effective way to advance the technology. A series of investments culminated in two eTAD machines, located in Crossett, Arkansas, and in Port Hudson, Louisiana. Valmet was selected to construct both these projects and full-scale commercial production was started.

The new Quilted Northern Ultra Soft & Strong was introduced to the market in 2012. Consumers experienced that the product cleaned effectively, conformed well to the body, held up well in use and delivered an improved level of softness. Simultaneously, consumers reported differentiation in its durability because of the unique balance of strength and stretch in combination with enough softness.

Sustainability on everyone’s agenda

The method of removing water through pressing instead of evaporating with hot air allows for about 30% savings in energy in the drying process. Equally, about 30% water savings can be achieved by reusing the recovered water extracted from the sheet. A major benefit of the eTAD technology is the capability of using alternative fibers such as recycled, straw or bamboo furnishes. As of today, eTAD does not have the same limitations in drying technology as TAD.

Valmet Advantage eTAD Technology.

eTAD is available for tissue makers outside North America

In 2018, Valmet and Georgia-Pacific entered into a licensing agreement enabling Valmet to sell, manufacture and install the patented Advantage eTAD technology outside North America. Kurt Adams, Vice President, R&D, Georgia-Pacific says: “We knew we had developed a product that could contribute to sustainable tissue production in North America. As part of our environmental stewardship, we felt that making this technology available in markets where we don’t supply products was important. Proposing Valmet as the preferred partner for this task was natural.

Georgia-Pacific strives to work with people in the industry who deliver mutual benefits to our customers, and Valmet share that vision”.
Tissue producers with a conventional dry-crepe machine who wish to make a shift in quality but are not able to invest in a completely new full line should explore the options of a re-build as it is possible to utilize current wet end and dry end components. Approximately 20-25% less capital is required to manufacture the same number of tissue rolls, because buildings are smaller and the cost of equipment is less.

Georgia-Pacific’s pilot facility is available for Valmet’s new and current customers. It’s a place to test, verify and create a sense of confidence that the products will meet defined expectations. With on-site converting capabilities, customers can make final products during the same day.

With the use of the eTAD process, Georgia-Pacific was able to create and position Quilted Northern Ultra Soft & Strong as not only a premium tissue brand, but also a sustainable product

Innovation for a better future

Joe Miller reflects on the journey: “It took some work to get to where we are today. And since our first installation, we’ve continued to optimize this process. By partnering with Valmet, we’ve learned together what we needed to do to reduce complexity. Today we are completely confident with the technology. It is also an effective way to upgrade existing machinery to produce premium products that are more highly valued by consumers.”

With the use of the innovative eTAD process, Georgia-Pacific was able to create and position Quilted Northern Ultra Soft & Strong as not only a premium retail tissue brand, but also a sustainable product with specific on-pack sustainability claims.


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