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Nonwoven industry chain to create a sustainable future

updatetime:2021-07-17 09:02:25

In recent years, the promotion of more sustainable product supply chain construction has been the focus of the nonwoven industry. Even in the early days of the new crown epidemic, people are more concerned about health and efficacy, but most manufacturers say that sustainability is still the top priority in all areas of their business.

From the initial raw materials to the disposal of end products (many of which are disposable products) after use, all companies in the entire supply chain of the nonwoven industry are paying attention to environmental issues.

Post-use treatment

The development of more sustainable post-processing solutions has always been the focus of the diaper industry. In recent years, many companies have successfully created some feasible solutions to recycle used diapers.

For example, Ontex will start a diaper recycling program through its cooperation with Woosh, which will start in Mechelen, Belgium, and expand to other cities in Belgium, and will eventually be promoted throughout the European market.

By recycling used disposable diapers, waste and incineration can be avoided. This requires cooperation between different companies: from diaper material suppliers to manufacturers such as Ontex, to partners who collect waste and use appropriate technology for recycling. Ontex recognized the need to find alternatives to landfill and incineration. They work with recycling companies to recycle their diapers, which is in line with their sustainable development strategy towards a circular economy business model.


Elsewhere in Europe, Procter & Gamble has worked with many partners to launch diaper recycling programs in the Netherlands and Italy. In Amsterdam, P&G collaborated with AEB, TerraCycle and FaterSMART to use innovative recycling bins to collect used diapers. As the world's first, the pilot program was promoted by the Municipality of Amsterdam.


A recent study of Dutch parents shows that nearly 70% of families will participate in the diaper recycling project, and 82% of Dutch parents don’t mind separating diaper waste from other waste. In addition, half of the Dutch parents said that they believe that the establishment of a feasible diaper recycling program is mainly the responsibility of diaper manufacturers.

The pilot program will place diaper recycling bins in two blocks of Asterdam, where parents can put all brands of diaper waste. These recycling bins are designed by TerraCycle. Parents can use the special Pampers recycling app to search for the nearest recycling bin location.

This advanced diaper recycling technology was developed by FaterSMART, a business unit of Fater, a joint venture between P&G and Angelini Group (the Italian manufacturer of Pampers), and has been patented.

Its equipment uses high temperature and high pressure steam to separate human excrement from the diaper material. It can sterilize products and eliminate odors. A special mechanical system separates plastic, cellulose and super absorbent materials from each other. These raw materials can be recycled and used to produce new materials. For example, cellulose is used to produce fabric bags, super absorbent materials are used for various hygroscopic products, and plastics can be used to produce barrels or bottle caps. Fater also has a similar diaper collection and recycling program in Italy, which can recycle 10,000 tons of diaper waste every year.


At the same time, Unicharm cooperated with nursing homes and child daycare centers in Japan to launch a pilot program for diaper collection in the Tokyo area. The plan will establish a recycling model, which will eventually be promoted in Japan and other parts of the world. The company said it plans to introduce more than 10 diaper recycling plants from now to 2030 to reduce waste.

Unicharm has been committed to the development of recycling technology since 2016. In recent years, its process has been simplified and become more efficient. According to the company, some of these old materials will eventually be used to make new diapers, and the new products will be on the market in 2022. When the plan was launched, Japan was facing the problem of a rapidly aging population and rising use of diapers.

Kenji Ueda, General Manager of Unicharm's Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance Department, said: "In an aging society, more people will use diapers, and the resulting waste will increase. We hope to make these diapers through recycling. Waste materials can be remade into new diapers many times, not just for one-time use."

Environmentally friendly diaper brand Dyper is taking a different approach to provide waste solutions for its diapers. In early 2020, the company cooperated with TerraCycle to implement the Redyper composting program in the United States, allowing users to return used diapers for composting.

The cooperation with TerraCycle will help Dyper users to ensure that their used diapers will not enter the landfill. Dyper provides an environmentally friendly, economical and convenient way to recycle diapers. All products are made of high-quality materials and do not contain harmful chemicals, dyes and flavors.

Dyper subscribers who choose to join the Redyper program will receive bags and specially designed boxes designed in accordance with the most stringent United Nations dangerous goods transportation standards. Once the box is full, users can download the prepaid shipping label from the "Dyper Composting Program" page on the TerraCycle website, so that they can easily send the used diapers to TerraCycle's composting facility.

Nest Diapers is another company that claims compostability. Clark Sather, the company's founder and managing director, said the diapers are made of plant materials derived from wood, bamboo and rattan, with a compostable surface layer and a breathable PLA bottom layer. "Most environmentally-proclaimed diapers are exactly the same as the products you get from retail brands or any other private label. It may contain a good-sounding ingredient, but this ingredient does not really make the environment better ." Sather said. "We are trying to take these efforts one step further."

Nest has partnered with leading baby diaper composting suppliers to manage the composting process. Its goal is to do everything possible to develop a truly compostable product, and plans to test another type of SAP. Sather said that they hope to find partners with whom they can work. "We are progressing slowly, but we make sure that we are doing the right thing."

Explore from the source

Nonwovens manufacturers are focusing on using fewer and more sustainable raw materials to improve the eco-friendliness of their final products.


Søgaard of Fibertex Personal Care said: "In addition to working hard to develop materials with lower grammage, we have been intensively researching other raw materials to create sustainable nonwovens for several years. Since sustainable nonwovens come in many forms, we Considering biodegradable polymers, biopolymers, etc., each of these options has its advantages and disadvantages."

Fibertex Personal Care is one of the world's largest manufacturers of spunbond nonwovens for sanitary materials. They cooperate with Sabic, a global leader in the chemical industry, to use Sabic's Trucircle high-purity recycled plastics to manufacture a series of nonwovens. This material is made of post-consumer mixed plastics. Waste plastic raw materials are decomposed into molecular structural units, and then re-polymerized into pure polymers. It can meet the purity and safety requirements of the health industry, and it has also become the world's first use of recycling. Non-woven fabric products produced by plastics. The plan is seen as an exciting step towards a more sustainable supply chain and higher nonwovens recyclability.

Fibertex Personal Care will provide its customers with certified recycled nonwovens through the Comfort, Elite, Dual and Loft product lines. These certified non-woven fabrics can be used in downstream production without affecting the processability, product characteristics or performance of the final product.

Avgol's natureFIT solution aims to reduce the impact of materials on product design and has a series of added values, including reducing the use of polymers and the sources and applications of polymer substitutes. For example, a new product in the natureFIT series, natureFIT Gentle, can reduce the amount of resin used in production by as much as 40%. Its advanced technology allows the product to significantly reduce polymer consumption through the use of natural minerals, while enhancing softness and fit. For brand customers, the most important thing is that despite the significant reduction in polymer usage, it still maintains all the performance characteristics of traditional products.

The progress in the development of new materials has provided Suominen's sustainable product portfolio with new environmental solutions, such as the recently launched Biolace Pure for wipes. The product is made of biodegradable, compostable and renewable plant fiber and wood pulp from certified forests, and does not contain any chemical binders or plastics. As the latest product in Suominen's sustainable Biolace product line, Biolace Pure aims to meet the growing demand for sustainable, plastic-free materials in the growing wet wipes market.

"Biolace Pure provides customers with a unique and sustainable choice that does not affect the important functions required for a perfect wipe. Its three-layer solution ensures optimal liquid management, and a soft outer layer ensures that the wipe Clean effectively and gently.” said Marika Mäkilä, Suominen European Marketing and Category Management Manager.

"Global environmental issues, such as climate change and marine plastic pollution, are creating new market expectations and demands for sustainable nonwoven products. These global challenges have also prompted us to continue to develop innovative solutions that have less impact on the environment. Biolace Pure is one of the results of our efforts.” Mäkilä concluded.

Now, as the industry begins to slowly move towards rebuilding normalcy, it is important not to go back to the old way and put concerns about environmental issues aside. Instead, the entire industry needs to take action. In the future, brand sustainability certification will become more and more important, because consumers will make choices based on their own values, rather than purely out of necessity. Globally, consumers will favor the use of environmentally friendly products, and the sanitary products market is no exception. Major nonwoven fabric manufacturers should help brand owners turn their previous "icing on the cake" into an effective and marketable competitive advantage.