INDA is working with EDANA and several nonwoven fabric manufacturers and several wipes sellers on trying to advance to the next step on the issue of the flushability of various nonwoven fabrics converted into various wiper products. Many local wastewater utilities have expressed concern about products entering the waste stream that claim to be flushable but do not disperse or disintegrate appropriately and clog up the sewer piping and pumps. They blame the clogs on wiper products and are pressuring the nonwovens industry to do something to address the problem, as some products do not address the flushability issue in their labelling. INDA has instituted a “non-flushable” logo for the industry to prominently display on their label, which is a step in the right direction, but we need to add a stronger, more acceptable “flushable” designation as well. The two organisations have already co-operated on two editions of the Flushability Guidelines and hope to have the third available next year. This is an important issue for those in the field, and an issue where a neutral body like INDA and EDANA can play a constructive role developing industry consensus.
Paper manufacturers venturing into nonwovens manufacturing is a natural development. Nonwovens grew early on by replacing paper in many uses as nonwovens provide greater strength and durability per unit than paper. Both are manufactured as roll goods using similar kinds of equipment, and the manufacturing is managed with similar metrics, so paper makers looking at a market not growing robustly, such as printing papers, would look to higher growth opportunities that utilize their core competencies. Thus nonwovens. It’s a healthy development for both industries.
The issue of sustainability has become quite important to the nonwovens industry. We at INDA are spearheading two major initiatives in this area that should be helpful to the industry and to the issue. First, we are in the processes of developing a common method of evaluating the life cycle impacts of particular nonwoven products so that a customer or user downstream can evaluate various nonwovens suppliers using a rating system that is common to all. We are working with a number of companies closer to the retail end of the pipeline to spearhead this initiative and convince their nonwoven fabric suppliers of the merits of adopting this common life cycle analysis approach. It is something that you should see more of in 2013. We are also seeing more research and activity in non-olefinic resins to address the sustainability issue, specifically biobased resins. This is an active area with much market interest, and was an area of high interest at our recent RISE conference.
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