Rory Holmes, INDA’s President provided the latest statistics. Of the 1.45 million tonne US nonwoven market, wipes now had 13%, up from 8% in 1997. Unlike wipes in the EU, the US consumption continued to grow with total retail sales reaching $5.14 billion in 2009, and expected to reach $5.8 billion in 2013, with 75% of this being consumer and 25% industrial. Within the consumer category, average annual growth since 2000 had been 10%, most of this coming from household wipes and personal care wipes; least from baby wipes.
The baby wipes share of the consumer category had dropped from 88% in 1997 to 29% in 2009; Household growing from 4% to 45% and Personal Care from 8% to 26% over the same period. By tonnage however the lower cost baby wipes still held over 50% of the production. By volume in 2009, Private Label baby wipes had 39%, Huggies 27% and Pampers 19% with small brands at 15%.
For the Household category, Swiffer led with 30%, Chlorox Spinlace (25%), PL (21%), Small Brands (17%) and Pledge (7%). The last decade’s growth had been driven by the development of electrostatic wipes, disinfecting wipes, furniture polishes and automotive interior wipes.
In Personal Care, K-C’s Cottonelle led with 44% share of volume, while PL had 26%, Playtex had 12%, P&G had 11%, and Small Brands had 7%. The last decade had seen new products in Femcare (Always and Fresh’n up), Facial care ( Biore, Oil of Olay, Neutrogena and Dove), and wet toilet tissue (Cottonelle, Charmin, Wet-Ones and Fresh’n up).
Spunlaced nonwoven was the leading substrate production technology in 2009 with 38% of the 238,000 tonne total (which included 18% of double recrepe tissue which is not a nonwoven). Air laid pulp wipes accounted for 27%, Coform and wet laid for 12%, and spunlaid, card-thermal and card-resinbond for the remaining 4%.
$2.5 billion of nonwovens, rags and reusables were sold into the industrial and institutional wipes sector, Industrials wipes, rags and reusables accounting for 63% , Medical 16%, Food Service 15% and Speciality 6%. The EPA still requires used nonwoven industrial wipes to be disposed of in the hazardous waste stream while the laundries that wash the reusable rags incur no penalty. Studies are now showing nonwovens are more environmentally sound than rags and the EPA are being lobbied to pass a new rule opening up the market to nonwovens.
With regard to flushable wipes, the California Bill AB2256 will ban flushable wipes if passed.