Raising awareness – and ready to act
As part of its current Nonwovens, you say? public awareness campaign, INDEX™20 exhibition owner EDANA has been conducting interviews with a range of the industry’s leaders, who make clear the huge importance of sustainability in 2021.
While EDANA and its sister organisation INDA predict that global nonwovens production will reach 19 million tonnes by 2023, with a value of more than US$70 billion, there is a low recognition of the unique applications and benefits of nonwoven materials in the wider community.
“Nonwovens are becoming more prominent and facing more scrutiny as core components in a number of key applications – especially in the global response to Covid-19 and the need for additional PPE,” says EDANA Director of Communications and Media Relations, Seán Kerrigan. “More questions are being asked about how nonwovens are made, how sustainable they are and how the industry is responding to certain challenges. We felt the need to raise awareness of what nonwovens are, explain the benefits of these materials, and showcase innovations within the industry in what is our first public-facing campaign.”
Key EDANA members are in full agreement that greater recognition is required, and especially for their many sustainable initiatives.
“I am proud to be part of an industry that has really come together and demonstrated the required awareness and responsibility around sustainability,” says Jens Suhr Bay, Sales Manager for Fibertex Personal Care. “In the past two years I have seen how the issue has become progressively top of the agenda for everyone in the industry. It’s now a natural and integrated part of our customer meetings and I must say customers have really surpassed the level of just taking interest – they are ready to act.”
Responsibility, he adds, has materialised across the supply chain from producers of raw materials and nonwovens to diaper makers, facilitated by new technology and organised through new and existing partnerships
“Our most recent initiative at Fibertex Personal Care, in cooperation with a close supplier, enables our customers to choose a certified nonwoven derived from biobased circular feedstocks without compromising material quality, safety or performance,” Jens says.
Glatfelter has meanwhile based its entire nonwovens portfolio on plant-based fibres from renewable resources from the outset, and every year uses thousands of tons of replenishable abaca softwood pulp for its nonwovens for tea and coffee papers.
“Our products are either compostable and/or biodegradable at end-of-life and our path into the future is to integrate even more sustainable solutions, and especially PLA,” says Silke Brand-Kirsch, Glatfelter’s Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. “At Glatfelter we understand the need for more sustainable solutions and sustainability helps drive our innovation every day.”
Jacob Holm is also a pioneer in the use of natural fibres in nonwovens.
“We began with cotton ten years ago long before we saw millennial consumers start to show a preference for natural products, and five years ago we introduced patented technology to build the market-leading line for dispersible and biodegradable materials,” explains CEO Martin Mikkelsen. “Now we are working on the next generation innovation – cotton fibres are organically grown near our production site in France which has completely eliminated waste to landfill, through recycling, regeneration and repurposing. We are also actively investing in the technology to reduce our carbon footprint, running lighter weight materials, producing 100% cotton substrates and empowering our customers to measure the footprint of our products through our proprietary Jacob Holm app.”
Hollingsworth & Vose materials contribute to a cleaner world through their use in filtration products that provide clean air, clean liquids and energy storage
“We’re currently working on some interesting projects to significantly improve indoor air quality in residential, commercial and industrial buildings,” says Global Marketing Manager Suzana Vidaković. “This is a topic of increasing importance, especially over the past year, as awareness of how the quality of the air we breathe can affect our everyday life and how we live. Our patented Nanowave filter media provides a significant increase in indoor air quality. Due to its unique design, it can provide enormous energy cost savings and reduction in CO2 emissions. This is a good example of how nonwovens can improve the quality of everyday life.”
Applications for the durable nonwoven products of Johns Manville meanwhile include in filtration, geotextiles, insulation, vinyl flooring carpets, battery separators and much more. They are mainly based on polyester spunbond and glass fibres and can remain in service for decades, but even in such applications positive improvements have been made.
The Johns Manville plant in Bobingen, Germany, primarily makes nonwoven carriers for bituminous roofing membranes which are based on a significant amount of recycled post-consumer polyester.
“Our nonwovens are not only durable, but also help in finding a second life for millions and millions of used drinking water bottles,” says the company’s Global Marketing Communications Head, Martin Kleinebrecht.”
“We are proud of all of these efforts of our members to drive the creation of new sustainable products and solutions, but we know that there’s more work to be done,” says EDANA General Manager Pierre Wiertz in conclusion. “That is why as an industry, we continue to strive to improve our environmental performances and further raise the bar in sustainable best practices. One way we are doing this is by constantly analysing the environmental impact our product systems have, starting from the acquisition of raw material and all the way through to production, transport, use, end-of-life treatment, recycling, and disposal.
“We have also released our Sustainability Vision 2030 in which we commit to promoting fair and safe working conditions and green procurement in the supply chain, efficient resource use for low carbon production and products, increased transparency and engagement with all stakeholders to develop optimal waste and circular economy solutions.”
All of the Nonwovens, you say? interviews and further information can be viewed on the dedicated website https://nonwovensyousay.eu, as well as on the following platforms: