Friday, 10 February 2017

Start-up of new production facility for Bemliese™ spun-laid rayon

Asahi Kasei’s Fibers & Textiles SBU completed the addition of new production facility for Bemliese™ cupro continuous-filament nonwoven fabric in Nobeoka, Miyazaki, Japan. Commercial operation of the new facility began on February 1, 2017.
Bemliese™ is the world’s only cupro continuous-filament nonwoven fabric. It is composed of regenerated cellulose fiber made from cotton linter, the fibers around cotton seeds. These natural origins make Bemliese™ the ideal material for a wide range of applications—in the skincare and medical fields, as wipers for industrial and commercial use.
Sold in markets around the world, Bemliese™ is enjoying particularly strong demand growth in skincare applications. As such demand growth is forecasted to continue, the decision was made to construct a new production facility. With the completion of the new facility, production capacity for Bemliese™ increased by approximately 1,500 tons/year.
Moving forward, the Fibers & Textiles SBU will continue to expand production capacity and enhance the production infrastructure in order to strengthen the Bemliese™ supply configuration in line with additional growth in the global market.

Nobeoka, Miyazaki, Japan (at the site of the former polyester plant)
Bemliese™ cellulose nonwoven fabric
Approximately 1,500 tons/year
December 2015
February 2017

Raw Material

Photo:Cotton linter

Photo:Fabric patterns

Photo:Filament diameter

Bemliese only uses the short fibers (unused) around the seeds that were not previously used.  The process was developed in the 1960's and first commercialised in 1973 and marketed as a cotton nonwoven.

Photo:Filament spinning to roll winding

The original production process enables these fibers to be turned into material with higher functionality than regular cotton.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Kelheim Fibres has new and well-established products at Index17

 Viscose speciality fibre manufacturer Kelheim Fibres presents a mixture of new and well-established – and further enhanced – products at index17 in Geneva.

Flushability remains one of the most important topics. With their flat short cut fibre, Viloft®, Kelheim Fibres offers the first viscose fibre for rapidly disintegrating wet wipes. Nevertheless, the Bavarians do not rely on the performance of the fibre and their experience of more than 10 years in this area alone - quite the opposite in fact: together with the local wastewater authorities and renowned pump manufacturer WILO, comprehensive tests on products containing Viloft® were conducted in 2016. “We wanted to go one step beyond the requirements of the flushabilty guidelines and we see what actually happens in practice - that is to say down in the sewage system. In contrast to traditional (spunlace) wipes, which led to clogging and blocked pumps, wipes made of Viloft® have passed the test with flying colours. Furthermore, our close cooperation with the wastewater authorities has made clear to us how much damage to the sewage systems is really caused by incorrectly disposed wet wipes. The increased maintenance costs amount to almost 200 Mio € per year in Germany alone – and, at the end of the day, these costs are paid by the consumer”, says Matthew North, Commercial Director at Kelheim Fibres.

In addition to their rapid disintegration, which eases the load on the pumps, wet wipes made of Viloft® and wood pulp are compostable: they consist of 100% cellulose and are fully biodegradable.

Hygienic fibres remain another important topic for the world-leading manufacturer of viscose fibres for the tampon industry. Their patented, extra absorbent speciality fibre Galaxy®, highest hygiene standards as well as a deep understanding for their customers’ needs enable long-lasting peer-to-peer partnerships. The ”External Business Partner Excellence Award 2016“,recently received from P&G, is proof of this. Nevertheless, the innovative fibre experts step up to new challenges, too.

Kelheim Fibres’ in-house R&D has developed a new fibre named Electra, which can be used in a wide range of applications for the dissipation of static charges. Currently, Kelheim is testing the possible use of this fibre in connection with sensitive electronic components. Kelheim Fibres displays these products and more functionalised speciality fibres at booth no. 2415 at index17 in Geneva. media information,

Press Release - 2017-02-06

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Sateri to expand Viscose staple capacity by 1 million tons

Sateri has confirmed orders for machineries to expand its Viscose Staple Fiber (VSF) production capacity by 1 million tons. This will position Sateri as the largest VSF producer in the world by 2020. The total investment in the expansion is expected to exceed RMB10 billion (USD1.5 bn). 

Sateri is already the largest VSF producer in China with annual capacity in excess of 550,000 tons from its 3 mills in Fujian and Jiangxi provinces. The company supplies premium quality VSF to textile yarn spinners and spunlace nonwovens producers worldwide. “We believe in the future of VSF as a superior fiber for both textiles and nonwoven fabric. In the past one year, we have been making preparations for expansion and today’s confirmation of key machinery orders brings us closer to realising our plan,” said Mr Tey Wei Lin, CEO of Sateri. “The additional 1 million ton capacity will be achieved through brownfield projects at our current operating locations. The new capacity will come on stream in phases from 2018 to 2020, subject to market conditions. By 2020, we expect to have over 1.6 million tons capacity, making us the largest producer of sustainably sourced and manufactured VSF in the world,” added Mr Tey. 

Sateri is one of the largest viscose staple fiber producers in the world. Sateri’s viscose staple fiber is a natural raw-material and key ingredient to everyday items like textiles, and non-woven products such as baby wipes, and personal hygiene products. Sateri's annual production capacity exceeds 500,000 metric tons of viscose staple fiber. Sateri is committed to sustainable development and launched its Sustainable Pulp Sourcing Policy in 2015 and Sustainability Policy in 2016. All of its 3 mills including Sateri (Fujian) Fibre, Sateri (Jiangxi) Chemical Fibre and Sateri (Jiujiang) Fibre obtained PEFC CoC certification, Oeko-Tex Standard 100, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. With our corporate office in Shanghai, we operate a sales, marketing and customer service network covering Asia, Europe and the Americas. In particular, our well established presence in Shanghai allows us to be strategically positioned to service the China market, which is the world's largest and fastest growing market for viscose staple fiber.

Monday, 15 February 2016

French decree supports biobased and home-compostable bags

Berlin, 11 February 2016. European Bioplastics (EUBP), the association representing the bioplastics industry in Europe, welcomes the approval of the French implementation decree on single-use plastic bags, which was published by the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy last week on 1 February 2016. “The decree sets out clear requirements for the reduction of single-use plastic bags in favour of biobased, biodegradable and home-compostable bags. This is an important measure and supports the efforts of EUBP to emphasise the essential role of bioplastics for the circular economy in Europe,” says Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of EUBP.

In August last year, France introduced a ban on single-use plastic bags as part of the new law on Energy Transition and Green Growth. An implementation decree setting out the requirements and conditions in greater detail has now been approved and will come into effect on 1 July 2016. The decree applies to single-use carrier bags below a thickness of 50 microns, which will have to meet the requirements of the French standard for home composting and feature a biobased content of at least 30 percent. The minimum biobased content will increase progressively to 40 percent in 2018, 50 percent in 2020, and 60 percent in 2025. Appropriate bioplastics materials have been readily available on the market for quite some time, and manufacturers are eagerly waiting in the wings. Christophe Doukhi-de Boissoudy, president of French association Club Bio-plastiques comments: “We welcome the mobilisation of public authorities in order to finally achieve such a measure. It will allow biobased and biodegradable plastics stakeholders to harness the benefits of their research efforts to develop new biodegradable and compostable plastics that reduce our dependency on oil. The decree will help to reduce the plastic bags pollution as well as to revive economic activity for French plastics converters, as 90 percent of fruit and vegetable bags are currently being imported.”

The law makes France one of the first European countries taking concrete measures on plastic bags in favour of biobased and compostable bags in an effort to comply with the European Directive to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic bags. It also underpins the benefits of separate collection of organic waste with biodegradable and compostable bags. The draft decree was amended to take the notions of the European Commission and the French State
Council into account. “We expect the French decree to serve as an example for European legislation and to contribute to the increased demand of sustainable bioplastic solutions,”
More information on the French law on plastic bags:

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

PCI Sustainability: The Big Picture

Jonathan Cullen of Cambridge University said the world is not about to run out of energy or materials but something must nevertheless be done to stop and even reverse the rise in anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  Since 1870, human activity has added 1500 gigatonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere and this has raised global temperatures by about 1oC.  These carbon emissions have arisen in the course of improving the thermal comfort, sustenance, illumination and hygiene for the growing population; to move them and their goods around, and to make buildings, infrastructure vehicles and “things”.  With current emissions running at 28 Gt CO2/year, 35% is arising from industry, 27% from transport and 31% from buildings. 

Using Sankey diagrams to map energy flows and CO2 emissions from source to final product or service Dr Cullen showed that compared with buildings and transport, industry uses energy more efficiently.  Within industrial products, steelmaking emitted most CO2 (25%) with cement (19%), paper (4%), plastics (4%) and aluminium (3%) being the other big consumers.  However 45% of total industrial emissions were in  the Others category.  Global demand for these materials will double by 2050 and the scope for reducing their process emissions is limited by the fact that most producers are now approaching the “best practice” limits.  To reach the desirable halving of absolute COemissions by 2050, a cut of at least 75% per tonne of product is needed and this appears impractical on current technologies.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The PCI Polyester Sustainability Conference - London - September 2015

(R to L) Philip Gibbs (PCI) opens the Conference with Jonathan Cullen (Cambridge University) and Paul Clarke (PCI) 
Over the last 4 years the PCI Consulting Group has studied the sustainability aspects of the polyester industry and this was their first conference to share the findings. The study originated when PCI decided to sponsor a PhD student at Cambridge University to obtain independent quantitative numbers on sustainability for the polyester production chain in particular. That student became a full-time consultant with PCI, but the work continues at Cambridge and was reviewed in the opening presentation.

But for this opening paper, all the presentations were from PCI work by PCI consultants and the conference was therefore unique - in my experience at least - because there were no “commercials” and every paper provided concentrated factual information. Every one of the papers presented in this single day would have been a highlight of the average 3-day technical textiles or nonwoven conference!

The conference also covered:

  • the prospects for bio-versions of PET’s monomers, ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid,
  • the issues involved in scaling up bio-versions,
  • the PET recycling industry – “the real key to sustainability”,
  • the latest on the sustainability of that key component of many polyester-blend textiles i.e. cotton,
  • the drivers for sustainability in the apparel chain.
Summaries of these will be posted soon.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Lenzing sells the Kelheim acrylic tow and carbon fibre businesses

The Lenzing Group announces the sale of its fully owned German subsidiary Dolan GmbH, Kelheim and its 91.1% stake in European Carbon Fiber GmbH, Kelheim to WHEB Partners’ Growth Fund 2 of England and Jan Verdenhalven. The corresponding agreement was concluded on April 15, 2015. Both sides agreed to keep the purchase price confidential.
“The sale comprises part of Lenzing’s strategy to focus on its core business of man-made cellulose fibers. With WHEB and Jan Verdenhalven, Lenzing succeeded in finding financially strong, industry-oriented new owners in which both companies will be able to develop more effectively in the future than up until now”, comments Lenzing’s Chief Financial Officer Thomas Riegler. “Moreover, it is important for European Carbon Fiber that WHEB and Jan Verdenhalven already have longstanding industrial experience in the carbon fiber business. The company now has interesting growth perspectives once again through a potential cooperation with other companies in the strategic investment portfolio of WHEB.”
Dolan manufactures high quality specialty fibers on an acrylic basis which are used for textiles, convertible car tops, as sunshades, for garden furniture and protective clothing. Dolan is one of the major suppliers of convertible car tops in Europe. The company employs a workforce of about 100 employees, generating revenue of EUR 57.5 mn in 2014.  
European Carbon Fiber GmbH is a joint venture with Kelheim Fibres GmbH which manufactures precursors for the carbon fiber industry. The company achieved annual revenue of EUR 10.4 mn in 2014.
Source - Lenzing - April 15th 2015

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Wet-Wipes in UK Beach Litter

The Marine Conservation Society's annual survey of beach litter for 2014 shows a 50% increase in the number of wet-wipes compared with 2013.  It is now possible to find 35 wet wipes on every kilometer of beach around the UK and these are now a bigger problem than other sanitary disposables.  Of the 101 categories of beach litter, wet wipes showed the second highest growth over the last decade.  Plastic pieces were the worst offender, but the MCS noted that wet-wipes contained plastic - polyester - and therefore last a very long time in the sea.

Cotton buds, as evidenced by their plastic sticks, had declined over the decade but showed an unexpected increase over the last year.  These are still more numerous than wet-wipes (per km of beach) but have significantly less visual impact.  The numbers of wet-wipes found is now comparable to the numbers of plastic bags on beaches.

It will be interesting to see if the increased use of flushables reverses this trend.

The report can be downloaded here.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Recycling used Hygienic Disposables

Marcello Somma, Sustainability Innovation Manager of Fater SpA (Italy) described the technical progress made on their 500kg/batch pilot plant developed to recycle diapers and other absorbent hygenic products (AHPs) .  He claimed it was achieving separation efficiencies of >95% without degrading the reclaimed materials which were produced sterile and at moisture contents below 20%.  Fater is a JV between Procter and Gamble and Angelini.

In Italy alone, 900,000 tonnes per year of used AHPs are landfilled or incinerated every year, and a system of segregation and collection of such waste already serves 7 million people.
The pilot plant looked like a very large drum washer/dryer which could discharge clean dry waste into a shredder/separator.  1 tonne of used diapers fed to the pilot plant contained about 50% body fluids and yielded 350kg of sterilised absorbent comprising fluff pulp and superabsorbent. 
 This recycled cellulose stream is being evaluated in pet-care absorbents, spill control products, compost, gas generation via digesters, paper mills, and even viscose production.  It also yields a recycled plastic stream comprising 150 kgs of white mixed PP/PE polymer chips which Fater claim can be fed to a wider range of processes than standard recycled plastic.

The process, when scaled up, will be good for citizens who will get a dedicated AHP collection service and cash savings (if the proposed pay-as-you-throw taxes are introduced).  Local councils will save money on landfill and increase their contribution to EU recycling and biodegradable waste targets.  Waste disposal companies will develop new business if they instal the Fater system and of course the environment will benefit from the negative C-footprint (-17kgs CO2/tonne) if Italy as a whole adopts the process.

The next step is to instal a larger continuous pilot plant with a capacity of 8000 tonnes/year in Veneto by the beginning of 2015.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Sustainable Development

Uwe Bergmann, Director of Sustainability Management at Henkel (Germany) summarised the challenge of sustainable development as reducing our environmental footprint while improving the quality of life to allow 9 billion people to live well and within the limits of the planet by 2050.  Four major trends have to develop to make this possible:
  1. Growth must be decoupled from resource consumption.  For instance China hopes to reduce carbon emissions by 40% per RMB by 2020.
  2. Consumers must increasingly use social media to make their concerns known.  (1.13 million now follow Greenpeace on Twitter.)
  3. Regulations and de-facto standards must be tightened.  Walmart’s Sustainability Consortium has engaged 5000 suppliers has tackled 300 product categories to reduce their impacts.
  4. >50% of consumers are aware of the challenge but currently unwilling to change habits.

In 2013, the United Nations surveyed a 1000 CEO’s around the world and found that 32% believed the economy was on track to meet the demands of population growth.  33% felt that business as a whole was doing enough to address the challenge, but 83% feel that further progress will only come from more regulations.  They felt there would be a plateau beyond which a radical change in market structure driven by a common understanding of global priorities will be needed.  Innovation of new technologies, collaboration between industries and close cooperation with stakeholders will be needed to move above the plateau.  

In short, we have to achieve more with less.  By 2030 we need to triple the value we create from the current footprint of our operations, products and services.  This could be achieved by  combining long- and short-term targets where annual improvements of 5-6% would add up to achieving the long-term goals.

Henkel were targeting, over the next 5 years:
  • More value for customers: 10% more sales are needed from each production unit.
  • Safer workplaces: 20% reduction in accidents per million hours worked.
  • Reducing water usage by 15%.
  • Reducing waste by 15%.
  • Reducing energy consumption by 15%.

Examples of Henkel innovation included the development of  low-temperature hot-melt adhesive based on 50% renewable materials to reduce the energy required in diaper production.