Sunday 30 September 2012

Wipes Retailer Needs

Dan Mack of Mack Elevation Forum stood in for Tony Tobin of Save-a-Lot Food Stores (USA) to point out that retailers feel their suppliers don’t understand them, add little value and tend not to listen to their requirements.

  • ·         An LBS study showed that according to retailers only 7% of meetings with suppliers add value and 93% waste their time.
  • ·         Suppliers prefer optimizing existing products rather than creating new ones.
  • ·         “They’re blind to the way I do business and seem to rigidly work to a script”
  • ·         “we want a new pie, not further slicing of the old one”
  • ·         Overall the research indicated suppliers presentations provide too  much detail, are illogical and unbelievable, given in a distracting style without a theme and with too many objectives.
  • ·         The retailer wants suppliers to be partners who can solve problems and think holistically about the category even if they don’t play in all its parts.
  • ·         “Show me the whitespace and create things I don’t already have”
  • ·         “Find a nugget and create a program around that nugget that helps me win the consumer”
  • ·         “Provide idea ready or 1st to market programs that build my basket while aligning with my core customer” 
  • ·         “understand my private brand goals and help me achieve them”
Retailers feel a supplier blind spot is the use of a key account manager. 

Friday 28 September 2012

Calrecovery: Options for Solid Waste

George Savage, Executive VP, Calrecovery pointed out that solid waste management must minimize the use of landfill, avoid pollution and minimize climate change. The key waste characteristics to be considered were the elements present, the microbial content, the moisture content, the putrescible organic matter, and any traces of toxic chemicals or plastic contamination.  The disposal options were recycling into new materials, bio-processing, thermal processing and in last resort, landfill. 
Bioprocessing occurred at temperatures below 150oC and could be aerobic (composting), anaerobic (composting or digestion) or enzymatic hydrolysis.  Composting sequesters carbon rather than releasing it to the atmosphere but the process requires energy (aeration of the “windrows”) and odor-controlling semi-permeable covers if used in built-up areas. 
Anaerobic digestion or biogasification is advanced in Europe where funding has been provided.  The US lags 10-15 years behind the EU in this technology. 

Thursday 27 September 2012

EDANA Outlook 2012 Opens In Barcelona

Pierre Wiertz, EDANA General Manger opens the conference.

Keynote Speaker Vijay Vaitheeswaran of The Economist talks about Need, Speed and Greed.

Cao Zhenlei, Chairman CNHPIA gives details of the hygiene products market in China.

Carlos Richer, CEO of Richer Investments compares diaper constructions from around the world.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Sewage Treatment Problems: Non-flushable wipes

Robert Villee , Executive Director of Plainfield Area Regional Sewerage and Chairman of the Water Environment Federation Collection Systems Committee highlighted the problems created by non-flushables in waste water collection and pumping stations. Any wipe not dispersing quickly and completely should not be regarded as flushable.  Those that don’t disperse do clog pumping stations and check valves and these blockages are happening increasingly often.  Solutions are being sought on several levels:

  • ·         Fit bar-screens to remove debris before pumping
  • ·         Encourage wipe manufacturers to improve labeling of non flushables
  • ·         Educate consumers who seem to feel that anything disposable is flushable
  • ·         Encourage the pump manufacturers to develop better pumps.
  •           A product labeled “Flushable” should disperse, like 2-ply toilet paper, in under 2 minutes and should be fully dispersed before it leaves the household pipes.  

    However a field study at Portland Maine obtained results from the visual sorting of screen-blocking  waste that suggested nonwoven wipes were not the main culprit:
  • ·         42% of the screened waste was paper towel from public washrooms (ladies use them to cover seats).
  • ·         25% were baby-wipes
  • ·         17% were sanitary protection products
  • ·         8% were flushable wipes.
So 92% of the problem should not have entered the toilet system in the first place. 

In a second field test, an attempt was made to block the pump by feeding baby wipes into inlet.  The pump refused to clog.

The paper towel problem should be addressed by removing them from ladies washrooms (use hot air driers), and these washrooms should also have a bin for the safe disposal of sanitary protection.  Baby Wipes should all be flushable but recognizing that this would be costly they should at least be labeled non-flushable much more prominently than at present. Consumer education should start in the maternity ward where non-flushable wipes are often presented to new mothers without their non-flushability being communicated.  Retailer’s displays of baby wipes should emphasize the “Don’t Flush” message.  Keep it as simple as possible: “If it’s not toilet tissue, don’t flush it”

(from a paper given at the INDA WOW Conference, Chicago, June 2012)

Tuesday 25 September 2012

EDANA Outlook starts tomorrow in Barcelona

The Hotel Rey Juan Carlos 1 was suitably illuminated this evening to welcome delegates to the EDANA Outlook conference.  After the rain and cold of last week's Dornbirn Conference in Austria its good to be warming up again!

The programme is on line here and summaries of the papers will be appearing here in due course.

Monday 24 September 2012

Dornbirn 2012: Communicating the Future of Man-made Fibers

A press release from the Dornbirn organisers follows.  Summaries of about a third of the papers of most interest to our readers will be posted on this blog in due course.

 Fit for the Future

The new realignment of the congress has received a very positive echo from the DORNBIRN-MFC community. The future viability will be based on sustainability and innovation. Communication with the upcoming generations will secure the lead in know-how and lay the foundation for the next 50 years. The young people and the next generation of experts in the field of man-made fibers will be included in the event in a more intensive way. The number of participants are increasing and the list of participating countries is growing continuously. As far as lectures are concerned Japan, Spain and Portugal are strongly represented.

Enlarged Spectrum of Lectures

In the PLENARY SESSION Mr. F. Van Houte / CIRFS/EATP, Brussels did illustrate the challenges for the European Man-made Fibers Industry and their chances and opportunities in competition with international manufacturers. Overcapacities for certain man-made fibers, state subsidised prices for natural fibers, cost of energy and labour as well as legislative burdens in a more complex European context will be discussed along with the necessary strategies.

This lecture has been followed by the awarding of the PAUL SCHLACK PRIZE through Prof. Fuchs to Mr. Anurag Pandey. A short presentation of his work was done.

A highlight was the one hour presentation of Mrs. Sarah Volk /Zukunftsinstitut GmbH/ Kelkheim (D) on the topic of Mobility 2050 – Trend and Scenarios.

INDA WOW Innovation Awards Presentations

Clean and Cream® Dispenser
Arnie Fox of Wetnaps Ltd presented a wet-wipe pack with a little pot of cream in the lid molding to the left of the wipes orifice.  One half of the lid revealed the wipes and the other revealed the cream. Various combinations were available e.g. Baby wipes & diaper cream,  Makeup remover wipes & moisturizing cream, Moist toilet wipes & hemorrhoids relief cream (OTC), Disinfecting wipes & medical treatment ointment, Polish cream (auto, silverware, etc.) & spreading wipes. 

Fibertect® Oil and Vapour Sorbing Wipes

Randy Sakowitz of First Line Technology LLC presented wipes for the decontamination of NBC suits and other surfaces where oil and volatile compounds are a problem.  The wipes were 3-layers of needlefelt, needled together, the centre layer being activated carbon fibers and the surface layers being unbleached raw cotton or polyester cotton blends.  The raw cotton retains more oil (12.5 g/g) than polyester (1g/g).  A patent was obtained on replacing glue or thermal lamination with needling to achieve maximum surface area for absorption. The material is available in wipes of different sizes, mitts or rolls all vacuum sealed in aluminized packs.

Raptor SAFE-T® Wipe

Johnathan Gluckman of Raptor Detection Technologies LLC presented a wet-wipe impregnated with the explosive detection indicators normally sprayed onto surfaces.  The wipe  is designed for army and police use and does not need experts.  Color change identifies the hazard, and it can be developed for drug detection.  The “indicator” is a polymer matrix created by mixing the explosive and the monomers and then washing out the explosive.  The resulting matrix has a molecular imprint of the explosive which traces of the explosive can key into and change the color.  The system can also be used to create highly selective filters for toxic waste clean-up.

Table Turners® No-Rinse Sanitising Wipes

Matthew Schiering of Sani Professional (Nice-Pak Away from Home) presented a food service wiping system to replace the traditional bucket and

Saturday 22 September 2012

Hydrophobic Tencel launched at Dornbirn

Tencel® Biosoft was introduced in a paper given by Bianca Schachtner, and then by Friedrich Weninger CEO during the Austrian Man Made Fibre Institute's press conference (photo above).  Samples of the fibre felt as if a silicone finish had been used but this was said not to be the case.  The official release follows:

Dornbirn-MFC Austria, September 2012 – Lenzing introduces TENCEL®Biosoft, the first hydrophobic and home-compostable fiber leading to unique benefits for wipes and hygiene applications.

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, researchers were looking for new materials for oil clean up. At that time, Lenzing started first trials for producing a new TENCEL® fiber which could be used for oil absorbency while retaining its biodegradability.
Bianca Schachtner, Project Manager New Products Business Unit Nonwovens, summarizes: “During our extensive research work, we realized that the actual benefits of the developed fiber went far beyond the original objective. In addition to having developed the first hydrophobic and sustainable TENCEL® product, the new fiber turned out to be extra soft, smooth and functional making it an ideal base for sensitive nonwovens applications.”

Friday 21 September 2012

EU Wipes for the USA?

Ian Bell of Euromonitor International (UK)  put the global retail wipes market value at $10 billion in 2011 despite the EU Homecare wipe sector declining by 4% per year during the preceeding 5 years.  Over the same period, Homecare grew 2% p.a in the USA and Consumer wipes grew 3.5% p.a. in the EU and 2.5% in the USA.  Could other differences between the EU and the US signal opportunities for the USA?

  • ·         The UK had double the average EU spend on toilet care and Sweden spent twice as much as the EU average on hand cleaning.
  • ·         Wet Toilet Tissue sales were strongest in Central Europe where they were used in 10% of homes.  2% of US homes used them and if this could grow to 10% the market would be worth $850million.
  • ·         Despite the strong growth and high usage of WTT in Germany there was no evidence of dry toilet paper sales being cannibalized, and the average German still spent $24 per year on Dry Toilet Paper.  This would equate to a $9.5 billion market if transferred to the USA.
  • ·         Packaging is the key to improving WTT sales in the EU, two examples of Kimberly Clark products being shown.  One was a Kleenex Flushable Fresh Wipes dispenser alongside the regular DTP dispenser in public washrooms.  This dispensed a sample pack with a “Try me now or Take me home” suggestion.  The other was a Cottonelle Easy Reach™ hanger above the DTP roll in a domestic bathroom. This was said to be  “coming to America”. 
  • ·         The Kleenex “Viva” kitchen towel range was being extended with wet-wipes for cleaning soap-scum and stainless steel surfaces.
  • ·         Private label wipes had twice the market share in Europe compared to the USA.
  • ·         Cosmetic wipe sales had declined in the US and Japan from 2006 but had grown in the EU.  The UK used $3.5/capita of these wipes in 2011 - probably twice the EU average - compared to $0.5/capita in the USA.
  • ·         The US cosmetic wipe market would be $600 million/year if sales could reach UK levels.  However in this sector devices such as the battery-powered Neutrogena Microabrasion System could take share from exfoliant wipes.
  • ·         In Home care, antibacterial wipes were the only growth sector at present with concerns over H1N1 and E coli causing consumers to buy more.  Here also there was a threat from devices such as steam cleaners.
  • ·         For floor cleaning the new Robo-Mops were taking off in Europe sales having tripled since 2009 and expected to reach $600 million by 2015, or 3 times the expected sales in the USA.  Examples shown were the iRobot Scooba™ system using Chlorox liquid, and a Vileda™ system.
  • ·         Probiotic yogurts had grown strongly and the probiotic benefit was now being tried in cleaning products in Europe.  Aggies™ probiotic toilet, multisurface and bathroom cleaning fluids were mentioned.
Asked what the biggest “take-away” from the EU scene for US producers might be, Mr Bell mentioned the probiotics for hard surfaces, and in future, probiotic sanitary protection products.

(from a paper given at the INDA WOW Conference, Chicago, June 2012)

Thursday 20 September 2012

Friedrich Weninger of Lenzing AG opens Dornbirn MMFC 2012

Friedrich Weninger, CEO of Lenzing AG and President of the Austrian Man Made Fibres Institute opened the conference with a keynote speech stressing the importance of partnership, not ownership.

The meeting runs until Friday this week and features the latest developments in fibres with a special emphasis on the bio-based sustainable varieties.  Summaries will appear on this blog in due course.

Yoshitaka Aranishi of Toray provided an interesting update on their melt-spun cellulosic "Foresse" fibre.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Suominen Nonwovens Now

Karen Castle VP NA Sales for Suominen Nonwovens shared the stage with Larry Kin (both ex Ahlstrom) to give an effective Q&A session on the recently expanded company:

  • ·         Who bought whom? Suominen bought Ahlstrom’s Home and Personal Care business unit.
  • ·         Why did Ahlstrom sell Wipes?  Because the business model to succeed in wipes diverged from Ahlstrom’s new business model.  Wipes has a few large customers:  Ahlstrom has a big Sales network.
  • ·         Was it easy?  No. Suominen  had no US business and is having to create one.  There are still problems in transferring Ahlstrom’s  South American plant due to governmental issues.
  • ·         New culture?  If we think pre-Ahlstrom, Suominen is now a combination of cultures from their Nakkila plant in Finland, the Dexter Windsor Locks operation, Green Bay Nonwovens, BBA Fiberweb’s Bethune, Alicante and Mozzate plants, Orlandi, and Ahlstrom’s Paulina plant.  The Suominen guiding principles of Trust, Partnership and Expertise are seamlessly retained.
  • ·         Effect on employees?  Suominen has quadrupled in size with a new Board and CEO and 8 sites instead of one Finnish plant.  Everyone has to accept change but is excited about the future.
  • ·         Windsor Locks Arrangement?  Suominen owns the Genesis and Hydraspun lines, Ahlstrom provide the services. Seamless coexistence occurred from Day 1.
  • ·         Codi?  We’re talking the Suominen Nonwovens Business unit here: Codi Wipes and Flexible Packaging are separate business units in the Suominen Group.
  • ·         Brands?  Suominen now have Fiberlla™ spunlace, Novelin™ thermal bond, Novonette™ thermal bond, Biolace® Webril, SPC™ Nonwoven, Airlace™ Nonwoven, Genesis™ composite, Hydraspun® and Hydraspun® Dispersible.
  • ·         Pilot Plants? Fiber Spinning, Carding, Thermal Bonding, Spunlacing, Wet-Laid and Composites.
  • ·         What next? Focus on customers, efficiency, expanding market, heath safety and environmental responsibility, sustainability.  Managing microbial risk was specifically mentioned.
  • ·         And finally: Suominen rhymes with You Owe Me None
Asked about microbial risks, Ms Castle observed that these had been managed at the converter level, but Suominen will now address it at the roll-goods stage because there have been incidents of contamination.  They are recruiting new microbiologists and Margaretha Holden will head up the new team and ensure implementation of best practice throughout the division.

(from a paper given at the INDA WOW Conference, Chicago, June 2012)

Monday 17 September 2012

The Genesis of Sustainable Fibres

25 years ago Courtaulds UK were about to start up the world’s first solvent-spun cellulose process to supply  25 tonnes/week  of  a new rayon fibre  with impeccable environmental credentials .  Process development had started in Courtaulds Coventry Research laboratories in 1979 under the direction of Patrick White[i]  and had remained secret under the “Genesis” codename until 1986.  In June that year the Courtaulds Fibres Viscose Division and Courtaulds Research joined forces to reveal, without spelling it out as such,  a long-range strategy to replace the chemically complex viscose route with a simple, pollution-free, physical cellulose dissolution route.  Here  cellulose in the form of wood-pulp would simply be dissolved without change and reprecipitated as a “lyocell” fibre.  Stratford-on-Avon was the chosen venue for the press conference and because nonwovens were then looking to be the best launch market, several nonwoven reporters[ii]  were present who duly wrote articles on the new fibre[iii].

At that press conference the process outline, the fibre properties,

EPA Wiper Rules: A 27 Year INDA Campaign to level the playing field.

Jessica Franken of INDA reviewed the 27 year INDA campaign to persuade the EPA to level the playing field for the continuing contest between disposable and reusable industrial wipes.  Disposables have been subject to the overly-stringent federal hazardous waste regulations while laundered shop towels have been exempt.  The key regulation is the 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act which contains a “mixture rule” under which any mixture of materials containing any trace of hazardous waste has to be disposed of as hazardous waste.  So, disposable wipes which have been in contact with a solvent must be subjected to the expensive hazardous waste management requirements while laundered shop towels used with the same solvent are not regarded as hazardous.  Significant State-to-State variations have arisen but the laundry industry can tell customers that their shop-towels are cheaper to use and a lot less hassle than disposables.

In 1985 Kimberly Clark sought an exemption for disposables with minimal

Saturday 15 September 2012

Natureworks study shows Ingeo(TM) PLA does not Biodegrade in Landfill

MINNETONKA, Minn., September 13, 2012  --  A peer-reviewed article appearing in the journal of Polymer Degradation and Stabilityconcludes that Ingeo™ biopolymer is essentially stable in landfills with no statistically significant quantity of methane released. This conclusion was reached after a series of tests to ASTM D5526 and D5511 standards that simulated a century’s worth of landfill conditions.
"This research is the latest in a series of NatureWorks initiatives aimed at understanding and documenting the full sustainability picture of products made from Ingeo," said Marc Verbruggen, president and CEO, NatureWorks. "We work with a cradle-to-cradle approach to zero waste. What this means in terms of landfill diversion, for example, is ideally that Ingeo foodservice ware would be composted in order to enable the landfill diversion of a food-residual stream, and that Ingeo resins and fibers would be mechanically or chemically recycled and not landfilled. However, these systems are still emerging and developing.

Thursday 13 September 2012

Apple's Design Thinking: “Wouldn’t it be cool if”

Rob Wallace of Wallace Church Inc used Apple and their $5500/day turnover/sq ft of floor space as an example of what could be achieved when design is a component of every business decision. Their success, achieved by Design Thinking, is not arbitrary but is a repeatable disciplined regimen which can be applied in many areas. 
·         It is not the result of analytical thinking based on what is known.  It’s the product of “wouldn’t it be cool if” thinking based on several elements:
o   Redefinition of the problem:  Observe, question conventional thinking, redesign and ask “How do the users feel about the product”
o   Create many options: Divergent thinking, many perspectives, don’t rely on a single expert.
o   Refine repetitively:  this convergent thinking stage is followed by prototyping and testing.
o   Execute: make sure the designers are part of the process.  Designers are good at implementing their designs, or to be precise, good at leading the implementation stage.
·         Considering the “How to build a better mousetrap” question, Mr Wallace thought the key questions should be “How do we attract more mice?”, “How do we trap more things?” and  “Does it have to be a mousetrap?”.  He thought 3M’s response to the question would be to invent a better mousetrap, P&G would  trap more things, Apple would attract more mice and  Virgin would forget the mice and start an airline.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

"Clean" US Shop Towels contaminated with toxic metals

Kimberly MacDougall, Research Scientist, Kimberly Clark highlighted another aspect of laundered shop towel use which the EPA appeared to have ignored for 27 years.  Many were contaminated with toxic metals which were not completely removed in laundering.  Traces could be ingested or inhaled during use.
  •      Workers have been observed touching their faces, on average, about 16 times an hour while using the towels.
  • ·    55% admit to wiping their hands and face more than 3 times a day using the towels.
  • ·    36% take them for home use.
  • ·    18% admit to using laundered shop towels for personal hygiene or first aid.
  •      A July 2011 Gradient report (Beyer, Grace and Beck) reported on the analysis of laundered towels across 15 industries in the US and Canada for 29 metals and showed these metals could be ingested via hand contact.
  • ·    26 different metals were found on over 90% of clean shop towels. Not all the metals would arise in any one industry, but metals could be transferred between industries by the towels.
  • ·    Exposure to 7 metals (antimony, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, copper, lead and molybdenum) exceeded the recommended values as a result of exposure via hand contact with the wipes.
  • ·    The exposure to lead was on average 591 times the “toxicity reference value” and peaked at 3500 times that value.
Obvious questions remain to be answered.  Could laundering of the shop towels be improved in the light of the study?  If not and if they are banned from metal processing industries, how big is the opportunity for disposables?

(From INDA's World of Wipes Conference Chicago, June 2012)

Tuesday 11 September 2012

INDA statistics for the Industrial Wipes Market

Rory Holmes, President of INDA, provided the following INDA statistics for 2011:

  • ·         Wipes accounted for 292,000 tonnes or 4.7 billion m2 of the 764,000 tonne or 23.3 bn m2 Limited-Life (disposables) nonwoven market.
  • ·         38% (111,000 tonnes) of these were industrial or institutional wipes, the remainder being consumer wipes.
  • ·         The roll-goods value of the industrials was $289 million compared with $465 million for the consumer wipes.
  • ·         Within the Industrial Wipes sector, 39% of the total area was for healthcare and medical use, 36% for general industrial use, 13% food service and 12% industrial specialty.  This equated to 45%, 32%, 12% and 11% of the tonnages of the respective markets.

Monday 10 September 2012


Association publishes guide for environmental communications
Berlin, 10 September 2012. False or misleading communication of environmental product properties is a widespread problem in the marketplace. European Bioplastics, the association for the European bioplastics industry, has considered this subject and today published its ‘Environmental Communications Guide for Bioplastics’. “Together with the bioplastics industry, we want to set a new benchmark for good environmental communication – all along the value chain”, says Andy Sweetman, Chairman European Bioplastics.

Communicating attractive environmental profiles and delivering ample and honest information while meeting national and international (communication) standards is not always an easy task for communication and marketing experts. However, especially when it comes to the communication of environmental beneficial properties of products, flawless claims are a must.

European Bioplastics has developed its Environmental Communications Guide within an international working group of member and non-member experts. As of today, the 30-page brochure is available for download at A short summary of the key messages of the guide is also available in German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Swedish.

Sunday 9 September 2012

INDA World of Wipes Conference (Chicago) Highlights

·          A report on the analysis of laundered shop towels shows that users can be exposed to above the recommended levels of several toxic metals simply by handling the “clean” towels.
·         Robotic floor cleaning systems are taking off in Europe with sales expected to reach $600 million by 2015.  The iRobot Scooba™ using Chlorox, and the Vileda™ systems were illustrated.
·         Probiotics are moving from yogurts to wipe lotions and can be expected in fem-care products soon.
·         A study of retailer attitudes suggests they feel suppliers don’t understand them, add little value and tend not to listen to their unique requirements.

·         Design Thinking, as practiced by Apple, can be applied to any business.  Forget unmet needs, features, benefits. Invent needs to get that “I didn’t know I needed it” response from consumers.
·         The 2012 WOW Innovation Award went to Sani Professional for their Table-Turners™ No-Rinse food service wipes in the Triple-Take™ dispenser.
·         Baby-wipes don’t cause of sewage pump blockages.  Attempts to block a pump by feeding baby-wipes into the inlet failed. Paper towels from public washrooms are the main culprit. 
·         Bluetooth 4.0 sensors in nonwoven insoles, patches, belts or straps could monitor health and fitness and the performance of athletes in real time using Smartphone software.
·         Raw cotton disinfectant wipes release antimicrobials more completely than bleached cotton wipes.

The EPA rule allowing disposable industrial wipes into lined landfill is now due to be published after 27 years of INDA lobbying.  Disposables and shop-towels will be able to compete on equal terms.

Summaries of the papers given at the INDA World of Wipes Conference in June 2012 will appear here over the next few weeks.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Limagrain's "Biolice" in "BioSac" Cement Bags get "OK to Compost" label

Dr. Walter Lopez, Marketing Executive, Limagrain Cereales Ingredients explained that cement is packed in double-layer Kraft paper bags lined with polyethylene film.  This combination cannot be recycled or composted. Limagrain has therefore developed a grade of Biolice™, a 100% compostable bioplastic made from maize, with the same strength and water vapour permeability as the polyethylene.  This has passed EN 13432, has received the “OK to Compost” label and is now being used in Calcia’s BioSac™ cement bag.  A large scale industrial composting test with 2.5 tonnes of used bags in 48 tonnes of organic waste was completed in December 2011 and the finished compost conformed to the NFU 44051 standard as being free of ecotoxins, pathogens and having the right physical characteristics for use as compost.  A control “windrow” used 50 tonnes of the organic waste alone.

Holcim and St Gobain’s Weber have now started using the compostable cement bags.

(from the Biopolymer World Conference, Venice, April 2012)

Plastic Degradation Additives fail to meet EU Compostablility standard

 Dr. Mario Malinconico, Research Director, Institute of Polymer Chemistry and Technology (Italy) reviewed ways of making polyolefins degradable and described the two main classes of additives as organo-metallic complexes  and organoleptic organic colloids.  These were compounded into masterbatches for blending prior to extrusion and would induce UV or thermal depolymerisation.  Starch polyolefin blends were also mentioned and the key point was that none of the resulting films were biodegradable.  They just fragmented in composting and the fragments caused problems. They failed to meet EU standards for compostability and there is as yet no EU certification of oxo/UV degradation.

(from the Biopolymer World Conference, Venice, April 2012)

Friday 7 September 2012

Biomaterials in Ford Cars

Maira Magnani, Advanced Materials & Processes, Ford Research & Advanced Engineering Europe reviewed their worldwide activities with bio-materials.  Their goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% between 2006 and 2020.

  • ·         All vehicles made in the Americas use 12% of a soy polyol to make the PU foam for seat cushions and backs.  They plan to increase this to 25%.
  • ·         Compression moulded PP-Natural fibre composites are used to save weight (cf GRP) in the Mondeo, Focus, C-Max, Escape, Kuga and Fiesta.
  • ·         PP-wheatstraw mouldings are used in the Flex to reduce density and CO2 emissions c.f. GRP.
  • ·         PP-hemp or  PP-sisal injection mouldings are being developed to  reduce weight and have now passed all tests to allow wider use in interiors.
  • More recycled material usage is planned, the opportunities being:
  • ·         100% recycled carpets.
  • ·         Post industrial plastic waste recycled into bumpers.

Thursday 6 September 2012

Natureworks increase Ingeo capacity, and add new grades

MINNETONKA, Minn., and WINTERTHUR, Switzerland, (September 5,
2012) — NatureWorks and Sulzer’s division Sulzer Chemtech announced today that
Sulzer has shipped proprietary production equipment to NatureWorks’ Blair, Neb.,
facility that will enable NatureWorks to increase production of Ingeo™ biopolymer and
produce new, high-performance resins and lactides.

Nameplate Ingeo production capacity at Blair will rise from 140,000 to 150,000
metric tonnes per annum. Commissioning of the installed new equipment is expected
in the first quarter of 2013 with capacity increases and new products becoming
available in the second quarter.

BASF's Biopolymers combined with paper

Dr. Carsten Sinkel, Advanced Materials & Systems Research – Biopolymers, BASF, (Germany) described their development of sustainable packaging by combining paper with biodegradable polymers.  Ecovio® FS Paper is coated with a biodegradable polymer made from 75% renewable.  It has food contact approval in the EU and USA, is converted into cups for hot or cold drinks, wrappings, buckets or freezer boxes, and is compostable to EN13423 and ASTM 6400 standards.

Apart from the polymers character, rate of biodegradation depends on a complex interaction of abiotic factors such as temperature, humidity, pH, oxygen availability and nutrients as well as the availability of microorganisms and enzymes.  The amorphous regions in semi-crystalline polymers degrade fastest and for polyester the polymer chain has to fold to fit the active site on the enzyme.  Dr Sinkel thought anaerobic digestion, which he described as “cold incineration” the best disposal route because it yielded 890 kJ/mol of usable energy when the methane was burnt to CO2.

(from the Biopolymer World Conference, Venice, April 2012)

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Profitless prosperity in the viscose pulp market

BEDFORD, MA, Sept. 4, 2012 (RISI) - World demand for viscose pulp is growing at a rapid pace, led by the expansion of viscose staple fiber production in China. Our latest forecast shows global viscose staple fiber production jumping 12% in 2012, following average annual increases of the same magnitude over the previous three years, albeit following a sharp, double-digit downturn in 2008. Including an estimate of Tencel (Lyocell), world production of these cellulosic fibers is predicted to reach 4.2 million tonnes in the current year, up from 2.7 million tonnes in the recession year of 2008.

Biopolymer World Policy Discussion Group

Dr John Williams (NNFCC) chaired a panel comprising David Webber (PA-Europe),  Marco Versari, Presidente, Assobioplastiche and Dirk den Ouden (Avantium) which, after a short introduction dealt with questions from the audience. The following unverified opinions were noted:
·         There is no high-level political support for biopolymers yet in Brussels, but the Horizon 2020 €80bn R&D Fund includes projects on bioplastics.
·         Food waste is a key issue in Brussels and any solutions to the problem are bound to involve packaging.  A Bio-Preferred packaging policy is being encouraged.
·         Any bioplastics revolution must start by addressing the food waste problem.  (Collection at source in biodegradable bags for feeding to anaerobic digesters?)
·         The EU Commission is considering a Europe-wide ban on PE shopping bags. There must be an exemption for bioplastic bags.
·         An EU definition of “bioplastic” along with norms and standards is required!
·         Bioplastics production is seen as a long-term solution to the decline of chemistry and the chemical industry in Italy.

Monday 3 September 2012

Soft Biodegradable Bioplastic Elastomers from Italy

Dr. Marco Meneghetti, Laboratory & Bioplastics Product Manager, API Applicazioni Plastiche Industriali Spa (Italy) defined bioplastics as polymers which are biodegradable and compostable according to the EN 13432, 14995 and ASTM D6400 standards OR polymers made from renewable resources whether biodegradable or not.  API’s Apinat-bio® is a soft thermoplastic elastomer meeting the first part of the definition and Apilon52bio® meets the second part without being biodegradable.
Apinat-bio®  is available in Shore D hardnesses from 39-90 and has  been extruded, injection moulded, blown to film or coated and calendared onto textiles.  It is now being spun into fibres and nonwovens for disposable clothing.
Apilon 52bio® is a bio-based thermoplastic polyurethane with the same processability as oil-based TPU. Both polyester and polyether TPU’s are covered in the range.  Compared with oil-based TPU’s they offer a saving of 25% in non-renewable energy and a 36% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

(from a paper given at the Biopolymer World Conference, Venice, April 2012)