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Japanese Asahi Kasei's nonwoven fabric is biodegradable in water

Jul '21
Pic: Asahi Kasei
Pic: Asahi Kasei
Asahi Kasei’s sustainable non-woven fabric Bemliese has gained recognition for being biodegradable in water. It has been certified as “OK biodegradable Marine” by TÜV Austria Belgium. Made of cotton linter, this material that can be utilised for making a variety of disposable goods and applications. Asahi Kasei is now aiming for the European market.

Applications for Bemliese range from cosmetic facial masks, hygiene and medical sterilisation, to cleaning equipment for high-precision machinery and laboratories.

Bemliese is a nonwoven fabric sheet made from cotton linter – tiny hair-like fibres on cotton seeds. Asahi Kasei is the first and only company in the world that has developed a clean proprietary process for treating this linter to produce sheets that can be integrated in a diverse array of product designs. Linter was originally a pre-consumer waste biproduct of the traditional cotton harvesting process, and now has been converted to roughly 3 per cent of the total yield. TÜV Austria Belgium NV, a globally recognised organisation that certifies product biodegradation, has recognised the material’s biodegradability in water and has certified Bemliese as “OK biodegradable Marine”. Prior to this, the material had already obtained certifications for industrial compost, home compost and soil biodegradability by TÜV Austria Belgium.

Next to its sustainability, Bemliese has unique material properties, that make it an ideal material for applications in various industries. When dry, Bemliese leaves virtually no lint, scratches, or chemicals on the surfaces it touches, making it an ideal material for cleaning equipment in industrial, laboratory, or medical environments that must remain contamination-free. Its high purity keeps the material free from excess oils or chemicals that may be inherent in similar materials. It also has a higher rate of absorbency than cotton gauze, rayon/PET, or nonwoven cotton.

Unlike cotton, a sheet of Bemliese becomes extraordinarily soft after moistening and drapes well over any surface it touches with little to no abrasion. Its extraordinary absorption of moisture and ability to hold onto tiny particles makes it an ideal material for hygienic applications or medical sterilisation. When soaked, it can grip the surface of an object tightly and hold the material in place while it dries. The reclaimed cellulose filament structure created by using cotton linter as a material provides a much higher level of liquid retention than regular cotton.

Cosmetic facial masks made from Bemliese have made waves in sustainable beauty throughout Asia, attracting world-class cosmetics developers like L’Oréal and Kosé Group with its unrivalled absorbency and performance. These face sheets made from cotton linter absorb and hold formulas that rejuvenate skin far more efficiently and stick to every contour of the face from the moment it touches the skin and stays in place. This allows for the even application of formula to the skin, yielding superior results. In addition, unlike traditional face sheets that commonly contain plastics, those made from cotton linter tout a 100 per cent natural source, clean production, and fast biodegradability within four weeks that has resonated in the industry where consumers have begun abandoning their usual products in favour of those that are more environmentally friendly.

After the success in Asia, Asahi Kasei is currently launching Bemliese in North America via its trading arm in the US, Asahi Kasei Advance America. As a future step, the company is also planning to establish contacts on the European market. With tightening regulations and also driven by changing consumer demands, the European industry’s shift towards lowering the CO2 footprint throughout the value chain is accelerating, increasing the needs towards sustainable materials. “The `OK biodegradable Marine’ certificate will help to increase the awareness towards the eco-friendly aspects of materials made of regenerated cellulose, especially in regard to the marine microplastics issue. In addition, the EU recently banned single-use plastics. This opens up new opportunities for cellulose-based fibre materials, which are not part of this ban,” says Koichi Yamashita, head of Sales at Bemliese, Performance Products SBU at Asahi Kasei.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (SV)

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