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Nonwoven fiber trends to nature --Value of cotton

updatetime:2022-05-11 11:57:01

Nonwoven fiber trends to nature --Value of cotton

Driven by global regulations on plastic restrictions, strong consumer preferences and sustainable development goals set by major brands, manufacturers and retailers, the natural fiber market, including cotton, viscose, flax and hemp fibers, will grow rapidly in the next decade.

The overall reduction of synthetic fibers will lead to an increase in the use

of natural and cellulose fibers. These fibers have the advantages of biodegradability and compostability, which will help to achieve the goal of circular economy. Consumers who prefer natural products also promote the demand for more natural materials.

People have further deepened their understanding of sustainability issues and the environmental impact of non biodegradable wasteThis has prompted more and more companies and their supply chains to take action.Cotton Incorporated Nonwovens Marketing Director Janet ORegan said: This is not new. It has been developped for many years, and now it has become more and more obvious and important

This growth is also driven by brands and retailers, who make sustainability goals part of their standard business reports, posing more challenges to suppliers about sustainable materials. More importantly, the EU's plastic restriction order came into force in July 2021, putting pressure on manufacturers of wet wipes and women's hygiene products, which are the first products subject to regulatory and labeling requirements.

Our customers are increasingly interested in sustainable solutions Customer Supervisor of Leigh Fibers Bryan Tickle said,“As the public requires more recyclable ingredients in the products they buy, customers are looking for solutions from us.。”

Health and safety concerns have also promoted the use of cotton and other natural fibers. This is evident in areas such as women's hygiene and baby diapers, as consumers want to use more natural materials for products in skin contact because of health and safety concerns. This fiber has not only become the first choice of natural brands, but also the first choice of global manufacturers who want to attract new consumers.

According to Rahul Bansal, head of global business development of nonwovens at Birla cellulose, cost and performance have been replaced by a combination of sustainability, performance and cost as a key driver of fiber selection. "Now, the choice of raw materials mainly depends on sustainability," he said. "When we talk about sustainability, it means that the procurement, manufacturing, products and their life cycle of raw materials will not affect the environment. The next step is whether raw materials are suitable for current nonwovens technology."

Value of cotton

Its popularity and popularity in the field of fiber and sanitary products have been further expanded. In addition, cotton is extremely safe and healthy for the skin because it is natural and hypoallergenic. This is particularly important for people with sensitive skin and products that will contact sensitive body parts, such as baby diapers, women's hygiene products and adult care products. 

"We will continue to see the launch of more products containing cotton. Of course, we hope this trend can continue." Lawson Gary, CEO of Wildwood cotton technologies (formerly TJ beall), said, "traditionally, cotton is only considered as the water absorbing component of baby wipes, but with our hydrophobic trucotton fiber, cotton can now be used as a substitute for polyester or polypropylene.

At the same time, in terms of sanitary products, there is a surge of interest in cotton containing surface layer in contact with skin. This is especially true in women's care products. "Our fibers have unique surface chemistry, which provides predictable and continuous fluid management properties, making them ideal for these applications." Gary added.

In addition to softness and hand feel, the use of cotton is also increasing due to the government's mandatory restrictions on the use of plastic raw materials in disposable products, which also makes manufacturers need to consider using new materials in products such as disposable wipes and sanitary products.

"We believe that cotton, as a renewable, biodegradable and compostable fiber, is in a good position to expand its market share," Gary said. "Cotton is the oldest and most trusted fiber on earth. Bleached cotton is also suitable for many traditional absorbent fiber applications. Our trucotton products can overcome the cost, yield and fluid management problems faced by many brands and manufacturers in the past."

Wildwood's recent innovations include carding / wood pulp / carding Spunlaced materials in cooperation with cotton incorporated and Lenzing. They are also piloting the production of short cut trucotton for wet netting and airflow netting applications.

Lewis barnhardt, President of barnhardt manufacturing, said that as the transparency of ingredients becomes more and more important, especially for female consumers, the use of cotton fiber in the field of health has become more prominent. "Women's hygiene products are in a leading position in component transparency, which is also continuing to be included in larger brands." He said.

In order to meet the growing demand for alternative fibers in nonwovens, barnhardt is also exploring materials other than cotton, which may replace synthetic materials in disposable products such as wet wipes.

Barnhardt uses EVOC (short for enhanced visual opening and cleaning system) to carefully remove all foreign matters from each piece of cotton to produce the clean, white pure cotton fiber expected by consumers for women's care and baby care products. Even in the most demanding 100% cotton nonwovens applications (including ultra lightweight nonwovens for health), EVOC can replace synthetic fibers and other less sustainable materials with cotton.

Cotton growers are also working to increase yields and improve fiber sustainability. Over the past 20 years, cotton growers have been trying to do more with less. They have increased production without increasing water consumption, and global cotton cultivation uses only 3% of total agricultural water.

"Cotton is grown in about 80 countries and uses only 0.6% of the world's agricultural land. Its natural drought tolerance, minimum irrigation needs and ability to thrive in arid climates make it one of the most widely used crops on earth, producing both fiber and food (cottonseed and cottonseed oil)." O'Regan said. Over the next 10 years, the goal of cotton growers is to increase land use efficiency and reduce soil erosion, water and energy use.

More specifically, for nonwovens, manufacturers like barnhardt rely on online vision systems to help eliminate agricultural pollution and mechanical cleaning to keep cotton pure. "We're trying to make our cotton as clean as possible," he said. "That's what we're concerned about - making it as pure as possible." Compared with more controllable synthetic materials, these efforts help nonwovens manufacturers remove some obstacles related to the processing of cotton and other natural fibers.  

"The nonwovens industry has grown, which has driven the engineering design of equipment and processing," O'Regan said, "Cotton is the product of nature. It is naturally changeable and its length is shorter than that of synthetic fibers used in our industry. These are problems that have been overcome. Over the past 20 years, the demand of nonwovens manufacturers for more natural and biodegradable materials has been growing, and the relevant technology and expertise have been developing."