Thursday, 23 May 2013

Sustainability and the Consumer: Green Marketing Statistics

Lee Ann Head, VP Research, Shelton Group has explored “sustainability” from the viewpoint of the average consumer.  Asked what do you think Sustainable means in the phrases Sustainable Products or Sustainable Practices the top 6 of widely varying answers were “No Idea” (21%), “Long lasting and Durable” (14%),  “Environmentally safe and friendly” (10%), “Renewable – easily replaced” (10%), “Preserves resources – non-depleting” (7%), “Keeps going” (7%).  Only 7% came close to the Meeting our needs while preserving the ability of future generations to meet theirs definition which the EPA favours. 

70% of those questioned were searching for Greener products, mainly to reduce energy use (71%) , but also for Home Cleaning (61%), Laundry (59%), Kitchen towels (58%), food (47%) and personal care products (46%).  How do they identify Greener products? Mainly by reading the ingredients list and the claims on the packs, but some do their own research on the web and believe the recommendations of Certifiers such as “Energy Star” and “Good Housekeeping”.  However, due to the recession they were losing interest in green products which did not have an immediate payback and felt that most Green home cleaning products were disappointing.  They were also rejecting toilet paper and kitchen wipes which claimed to use recycled paper and try to justify a premium.  For the consumer, recycled means cheaper.

So, convenience and comfort continue to trump the environmental arguments and people want products with fewer chemicals and more Made in the USA content.  More want personal care products with fewer chemicals rather than more bio-biobased content.

Perhaps of most interest was the emergence of end-of-life disposal as an issue this year.  74% thought the producer should take responsibility for end-of-life disposal and 61% thought the retailer should.

Asked whether the consumers’ view of disposable diapers was changing as a result of the changes evident in this survey, Ms Head thought they were not.  The convenience of disposable diapers far-outweighed any negative thoughts about their sustainability or disposal.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Polymeric Delivery Systems for Sustainable Nonwovens

Robert Lochhead, Professor and Director of the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials at the University of Southern Mississippi couldn’t get to Orlando but provided a voice-over for the slide show which was mainly a review of the latest patents of interest to sustainable nonwovens. 
  • He proposed reducing the water content of lotions for wet wipes by using Shinoda’s 1964 principle of phase inversion to make more concentrated emulsions.
  • USP 8327579 B2 (Dec 2012) proposes using waste nonwovens with PU foams to make floating islands which protect small fishes and could be pre-seeded to grow crops.
  • US Application 2013/0012093 A1 suggests using fibres made of polyethylene extended with vegetable waxes to deliver perfumes etc.
  • US 8268738 B2 (Sept 2012) from Kimberly Clark proposes overcoming the brittleness of PLA spunbonds by using PEG plasticiser compatiblized with maleinized PP.
  • US Application 2011/0152818 A1 suggests cellulose acetate butyrate/polyhydroxybutanoate to make thermally bondable nonwovens
  • US Application 2011/0300382 from P&G suggests making nonwovens from alkyd resins made spinnable into fibres by vitrification.
  • US Application 2013/0023608 A1 proposes using biobased thermoplastic elastomers and thermoplastic starches to make bicomponent fibres.
  • US Application 2013/0023176 A1 proposes making nonwovens from the currently wasted coir fibre from coconut farming.
  • US Application 2012/0027838 A1 covered ingestible nonwovens made from Ethylex 2035 starch used as a carrier for drugs.
There were numerous applications for patents from P&G on dissolvable fibres comprising surfactants, PVA polymers, plasticisers and rheology modifiers under the headings “What if nonwovens could be detergents”, “Nonwoven shampoo”, “Nonwoven laundry detergent”.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

INDA 2011 Statistics Highlights

Rory Holmes, Past President of INDA provided the latest (2011) INDA statistics:
  • Of the 1817 kt on nonwovens produced, 964kt were spunbond, 598kt carded, 165 kt airlaid and 90 kt wetlaid. 
  • 638kt of the spunbond was PP (SB or SMS). Polyethylene accounted for 54kt and was presumably mainly Tyvek.
  • 314kt of the carded was needlepunched, 201kt spunlaced and 83kt thermal or resin bonded.
  • By 2016 the total tonnage will rise to 2329kt, 1270kt of which will be spunbond.
  • For Disposables, hygiene nonwovens will grow from 370kt in 2011 to 416kt in 2016, medical from 166 to 194kt, wipes from 309 to 414kt and filtration from 171 to 213kt.  Oil Sorbents will grow from 59 to 75kt.
  • For Durables over the same 5 years, automotive nonwovens will grow from 53 to 76kt, furniture/bedding from 90 to 130kt, geotextiles from 125 to 141kt and agricultural from 30 to 37kt.

Monday, 13 May 2013

New quality standards for Adult Incontinene products

Nancy Muller, Executive Director of the National Association for Continence (NAFC) pointed out that the US wastes $750bn/year in health care spending, including $210bn on unnecessary services, $190bn on unnecessary administration, and $130bn on inefficiency.  Fraud accounts for a loss of $75bn.  Savings are sought and one of these relates to the Medicaid Nursing Home Waiver whereby the State saves on Nursing Homes by covering the cost of community-based long term care.  This means helping the family to look after elderly relatives. Often the home-based carers themselves are elderly, physically impaired and in need of education about inco management and the available products.

Skin gets increasingly vulnerable with age and skin-care for incontinence sufferers is a key problem.  Even with skilled nurses in excellent long-term care homes, incontinence-related skin erosion and ulceration is a serious problem.  So, as care moves into the community, State authorities are concerned that they could be overwhelmed by such problems and admit to having no idea what type of products they should be recommending to minimise the issue. 

NAFC has therefore pulled together a group of suppliers (K-C, SCA, Attends, First Quality, Medline, PBA) and State Authorities ( CA, MA, MN, SC, and TX) who have teleconferenced  monthly for the last 2 years.  They have rejected the ISO “absorbent capacity is key” philosophy and are incorporating threshold performance standards and recommendations for strikethrough time, rewet weight and retention under load.  The numbers vary according to whether the briefs are “Standard” or “Premium” priced, and whether the wearer suffers from Light/Moderate or Moderate/Severe incontinence.  Recommended values for a medium size – presumably measured on the whole pad - range from 35-60 seconds for strikethrough, 0.5 to 2 gms for rewet and 250-400gms retention.
6 sizes are recommended; all components must be FDA/OSHA/EPA approved; closure systems must allow multiple use; and the garments must be breathable without leaking.  Test results are to be shared between States and there will be regular audits to reduce product variability and prevent inferior products being used.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Lenzing Fibres First Quarter 2013.

Weak prices in the light of good volume demand characterized the business development of Lenzing’s Segment Fibers in the first quarter of 2013. This served as the basis for the ongoing full capacity utilization of all production facilities.

Fiber shipment volumes reached a level of about 216,000 tons, about the same level as in the fourth quarter of 2012 and approximately 13% higher than in the prior year quarter. This increase can be attributed to the additional production capacities coming on stream in 2012 at the Indonesia plant (SPV) as well as the USA/Mobile site. A fire took place at the TENCEL® fiber production site in Heiligenkreuz in March of 2013, which will likely result in a loss of production amounting to some 5,000 tons in 2013 as a whole.

Segment sales in the first quarter of 2013 totaled EUR 447.1 mn, down from EUR 474.4 mn in the prior-year quarter. Segment EBITDA was EUR 58.9 mn (1-3 2012: EUR 87.2 mn), and segment EBIT mounted to EUR 31.3 mn (1-3 2012: EUR 62.5 mn). 

Specialty fibers comprised about 34.5% of segment sales.

The business development of the Business Unit Textile Fibers was characterized by intensified price ompetition on the marketplace. Lenzing was not immune to this trend, which led to a further decline in selling prices for

Saturday, 4 May 2013

South America Nonwoven Update

Rick Jezzi of A D Jezzi and Associates updated the SA demographics noting that the birth-rate was now decreasing (down 1% per year) as religious principles waned and more women worked.  The female population (15-49) was increasing at 1% per year and the over 65’s at 3.8%/pa.  The average PPP/cap will be $12500 in 2017, the wealthiest countries being French Guyana, Chile and Argentina.  Brazil, the most populous country in SA, accounted for half the people and 60% of the GDP, and will have a PPP/cap of $10500 in 2017. 
  • Diapers will grow at 5.6% CAGR through 2017.  There are numerous producers but the two biggest (unnamed) take half of the total sales.  Penetration will rise from 53 to 62% (2011-17)
  • Femcare will grow at 6.1% CAGR through 2017 and here again of the numerous producers, the 2 majors take 54% of pantyliner sales and 42% of pads. Penetration will rise from 67 to 85% (2011-17)
  • The embryonic adult inco market is expected to grow at 10% CAGR through 2017. Penetration will rise from 20 to 27% (2011-17)
  • Baby wipes will also grow at 10% but use lower basis weights and more spunbond than NA.  Household wipes are practically non-existent. Penetration will rise from 39 to 62% (2011-17)
Mr Jezzi expects to see the industry consolidate and many smaller players to disappear.  Mass merchandising will grow and the whole industry will become more professional as technology is transferred from NA.  Brazil is leading the sustainability movement with its highly available low-cost bio-feedstock.  Braskem and Dow are already producing “drop-in” bio-PE.  Industrial PHB/PHV’s are becoming available and Solvay is producing bio-PVC.  An airlaid nonwoven producer is needed in the region.