Sustainable new options for absorbent hygiene
Manufacturers of nonwovens for the absorbent hygiene industry continue to accelerate their development of products with enhanced benefits for the environment, via new raw material combinations and options, in parallel with advanced eco-design.
Fibertex Personal Care, for example, has created a range of nonwovens which take full advantage of the high purity recycled plastics in the Trucircle portfolio of global chemicals giant SABIC.
The new nonwovens are to be made from SABIC’s circular polypropylene (PP), using feedstocks derived from previously used plastics, certified under the ISCC PLUS (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) system.
The certified circular PP material produced is created from post-consumer mixed plastics that have been broken down into their molecular building blocks and then re-polymerized to create virgin plastics. The new materials can be used as a drop-in solution while meeting the brand owner’s requirements for purity and consumer safety for the hygiene industry.
SABIC applies the “mass balance” approach to polymers offered as part of its Trucircle portfolio and services, which span design for recyclability, mechanically-recycled products, certified circular products from the feedstock recycling of used plastics, and certified renewable products from bio-based feedstocks.
The widely recognised ISCC PLUS certification verifies that ‘mass balance’ accounting follows predefined and transparent rules. In addition, it provides traceability along the supply chain, from the feedstock to the final product. Fibertex Personal Care’s recent attainment of the ISCC PLUS certification is a result of an extensive focus on sustainability and the company will now provide certified circular nonwovens to its customers from its Comfort, Elite, Dual and Loft product ranges. These can be adopted in downstream processes without compromising convertibility, product properties or the performance of the final product.
Similarly, the new natureFIT range of fabrics being introduced to the market by Avgol has been developed to allow product designers to reduce resin use by as much as 40%, via the selection of natural resins and additives.
“Our advanced technology lets product designers make a significant reduction in polymer consumption by harnessing naturally occurring minerals, while simultaneously enhancing softness and conformability,” says Avgol’s Director of Market Business Intelligence and Intellectual Property, Nick Carter. “Importantly for our brand customers, despite significantly reducing the amount of plastic resin we can now use in this type of product, we have maintained all the performance characteristics of our traditional fabrics.”
Fitesa now offers a broad range of sustainable nonwovens primarily for hygienic disposables, with its latest introductions including a 100% biobased PLA spunbond product and two bicomponents of bio-based polyethylene (PE) and PP. The company also offers carded nonwovens of PE, recycled PP and cotton, as well as carded recycled PET.
A proprietary CO2 footprint tool has been developed by Fitesa to assess the needs of its customers more accurately, since “sustainable product” can mean many different things to different people, explains Fitesa Product Development Scientist Jessica Dahle.
“Our customers could be looking for nonwovens based on recycled fibres or plant-based raw materials, but equally major considerations could be establishing a carbon neutral manufacturing process by using compostable, renewable or mass balanced materials,” she explains. “To quantifiably assess how a specific product will impact on carbon footprint, we factor in a number of parameters when using our calculator.
“These include raw material production and transport, energy use at the plant, waste handling, final product and end of life. The sustainability of our business depends on a robust and agile supply chain, stretching from raw material production to post-consumer end of life management.”
Suominen is meanwhile introducing the new Biolace Pure and Biolace Combo materials which are made from biodegradable, compostable and renewable plant-based fibres and wood pulp from certified forests.
For the wet wipes market, Biolace Pure is a three-layer solution with optimised liquid management properties based on the company’s long history and know-how in producing pulp-based products. In addition to being plastics free, it also contains no chemical binders
Biolace Combo combines all the features of both a top sheet and an acquisition and distribution layer (ADL) in a single nonwoven. It is designed for use in absorbent hygiene products such as feminine hygiene liners and pads, to either be used directly on top of the absorbent core, or as the only nonwoven of an ultrathin liner.
The key features of Biolace Combo include excellent fluid management and quick intake and it delivers both advanced dryness and textile-like softness for excellent comfort.
By potentially eliminating the need for multiple layers and simplifying production, this new material is very much in keeping with the latest principles of eco-design.
Suominen is also working with Finnish biotech firm Infinited Fiber Company which has developed the technology to turn discarded textiles into bio-based regenerated fibres.
All of these innovations will be highlighted by their developers at INDEX™20, which will now take place from September 7-10 2021 at Palexpo in Switzerland.