Thursday 17 June 2010

Edana Nonwovens Symposium – Baveno: 9th -10th June 2010


The 2009 statistics were released at EDANA’s AGM which coincided with this conference. Nonwovens production in Greater Europe declined by 6.3% in 2009 compared with 1.2% growth in 2008 and 7.4% growth in 2007.  Spunmelt production declined for the second year running, losing 39,000 tonnes this year, and 12 years of phenomenal growth in spunlace came to an end with a 13.8% decline in production in 2009.  Opening the conference, Pierre Wiertz, EDANA’s General Manager, said this recession had shown that the nonwovens industry was not as recession proof as previously thought, adding that this conference had been planned to focus on product and process development with a sustainability theme.

Keynote: The Race to the Bottom

Jim Hanson of MTS Kalamazoo USA provided a personal view of the industry’s problems.  The 70’s and 80’s saw excellent growth, with prices increasing by about 3% annually and R and D expenditures at ~7% of gross profit.  Now there was decline, no price increases, very little profit, and less than 1% of gross profit being spent on R and D.  Since 1983, diaper pack prices had about halved due to the “Walmart Effect”, and this race to the bottom had ruined the nonwovens industry. 
In the 80’s the big consumer products companies set the trends, now it was the retailers racing for zero price and driving the nonwovens to zero basis weight!  Under pressure from the retailers, the big CPCs now analysed suppliers businesses in detail and appeared to control their profit margins.  Where has it all gone wrong?
·         The roots in technology have died
·         There is no longer-range vision or thinking (no R&D)
·         The focus is on quarterly margins
·         Accountants are in control of the producers...
·         ...and the retailers are in control of the market.
Technologically, the main trends accompanying the race to the bottom had been:
·         Spunbond replacing carding as the ability to make even ultra-lightweights developed
·         Reducing the size and weight of disposables
·         Superabsorbents
·         “The strange stampede to hydroentanglement”
·         And now – nanotechnology
The big CPCs encouraged multiple suppliers and hence overcapacity to keep nonwoven prices down.  Now, nonwovens producers had to get in early with the latest machinery, and reinvest faster than their competitors to survive.   This was happening with hydroentanglement as well as spunbond.
Could the hygiene products industry resist the destructive pressure from the retailers?  Mr Hanson thought it could, but this would require vision, guts, risk taking and above all an alternative route to the consumer – the Internet.  Selling direct to the consumer via web-sites could be the way forward longer term.

Spin Finishes

Michael Bildhauer of CHT R.Beitlich (Germany) emphasised the importance of fibre finish in achieving the optimum fibre/metal cohesion for processing synthetic fibres through stretching, crimping, cutting and baling while simultaneously providing the right fibre/fibre cohesion for carding and web handling.  Control of static charges arising from friction was also crucial especially with synthetics.  Finishes must provide these features without migration or skin-irritation, and provide additional functionality for controlling wicking and wetting.  In short, they are not just “finishes” but rather sophisticated mixtures of emulsions, lubricants and antistats affecting the entire processing chain and end-use performance of the fibre and nonwoven.
PP has no bonding sites, so to make it hydrophilic, additives with long hydrophobic aliphatic chains and a hydrophilic head group have been added to the extruder.  This approach suffers from negative interactions between the melt and the screw and thermal decomposition of the additive in the extruder.  A spin-finish which thickens to a jelly on emulsification with water is hard to remove from the surface and provides and alternative approach.  Duron™ OF 4012 at 0.5% on spunbond thus provides a strikethrough of about a second with 2nd and 3rd insults of 2.2 seconds.  The same level gives an absorbent capacity and rate equivalent to a 70/30 PP/Viscose blend and could help PP replace the celluosic fibres in the wet-wipe industry.  Liquid dosing technology, where the polymer additive is injected into the melt after extrusion provides more permanent hydrophilicity and is being used to make BCF PP for carpet production.  This could be used on spunbonds to avoid the extra capital required for spin-finish applicators and dryers.
Duron™ 7024 includes a phosphoric acid monoester which reduces the “forward resistance” of spunbond from 1013 to 1010 ohms and the surface resistance from 1013 to 108 ohms.  Thus antistatic properties can be obtained, and for products where skin irritation is an issue, careful choice of the esters can guarantee this.
For alcohol repellency without the need for the off-line heat-setting normally required for fluorocarbon finishes, sterically-hindered substituents which separate the fluorocarbon chains have been developed to allow the formation of the crucial “fluorocarbon comb-structure” at room temperature.
For enhanced flushability, siloxanes with added functionality have been found to drop the nonwoven wet strength without affecting its dry-strength.
Asked about problems with silicones in sewers, Mr Bildhauer said their were none.  The finishes degrade to silicon dioxide (sand).  Wouldn’t silicone interfere with adhesive bonding?  Yes, but additional functionality added to the silicone could deal with this.  However reduction in wet-strength may be a problem.

Mineral additives in Nonwovens

Anabelle Legrix, a Senior Scientist with Imerys Minerals (UK) reviewed the effects of adding specially engineered calcium carbonate to polypropylene fibres for nonwovens, either dry-laid or spunlaid.  Fiberlink™ 101S is a finely ground CaCO3 which can be added as powder to PP granules for melt blowing or as a masterbatch (75% loading) for spunbond or staple production.  It is surface-treated to prevent agglomeration, improve dispersion and reduce hygroscopicity, and unlike talc or untreated powders avoids the problems of spinneret blockage and fibre breakage in loads up to 25% on weight of polymer.
·         25% loading in spunlaid (Reicofil 2) has no detrimental effects on throughput or screen packs, although die pressure increases (250-300 psi) and line speed has to increase by about 15% to keep the basis weight constant.  (Fiber density increases from 0.9 to 1.08, and opacity from 28 to 34% for a 25gsm web)
·         In filament yarns down to 1 denier there is no fibre breakage and a very matt product results.
·         In staple fibres it gives good carding and performs well in needling and hydroentanglement.
·         In thermal bonding, 25% of CaCO3 reduced the optimum bond temperature from 140 to 130oC due to its high thermal conductivity.
·         In melt-blowing, a 20% filler level gives thinner webs at equivalent basis weights, so higher porosity and a better absorbency per unit volume.  Filtration efficiency increases from 35 to 42 % at the 10% addon level and then declines to 38% at 20%.  This is thought to be due to the much rougher surface of the loaded fibres (10% higher surface area), although no carbonate breaks through the PP skin.
·         After charging in a corona treatment the filled meltblown filtration efficiency rises to 91% and only declines to 89% on discharge.
·         1.5 denier 34mm staple PP filled with 20% Fiberlink™ gives hydroentangled wipes substrates increased opacity, better softness, better strength (+25%) better wet-texture and similar liquid management character to unfilled fibres.  Here again, the strength increases are thought to arise from the rougher surface of the filled fibres.
·         Environmental benefits arise from CaCO3 having 1/10th the CO2 emissions of polypropylene.

Airlaid Revisited

Ingo Mählmann of Oerlikon Neumag (Germany) traced the history of their current technology back to Karl Kroyer’s 1966 patent and his use of Moeller and Jochumsen (M&J) to build the first lines in Europe, Japan and the USA.  In 1981 he granted M&J exclusive rights to further develop the technology and markets.  In 1996 M&J spun-off M&J Fibertech and this was acquired by Neumag-Saurer in 2004 before Oerlikon bought Neumag in 2006.  Since then the following developments had occurred:
·         Air lay was being used to process cotton waste, shredded leather scraps, shredded paper, hay, straw, kapok, hemp, and milled waste from tyres, resins, and carpets.
·         Carded nonwovens, card webs and spunlaid nonwovens could be fed into the line as reinforcements.
·         Split suction boxes were now allowing better CD profile control.
·         Lower levels of suction in the transport (as opposed to laying) zones is saving air and energy
·         Woven screens had been replaced by shaped steel conveyors to minimise fibre entrapment and loss.
·         Improved dryers and improved hammermills were also saving energy.

Spooling and Splicing

Pierre Croutelle, Sales Manager of Calemard (France) introduced their Pegase II spooling line, the third generation of ADL spoolers produced by their Spoolex division.  This takes mother rolls of ADL up to 800mm wide, 2m in diameter and weighing  up to 450kg and slits them to 35-150mm to produce 4 to 10 spools 850mm wide and 1200mm diameter weighing up to 250kg.  These spools hold 12-20 km of ADL to give roughly 10 times the running time of slit pancakes on a diaper line.  Spooling occurs at 600m/min and pancakes are spliced together with sonic bonding followed by ironing to avoid overthickness.  Adhesive tape splicing can be supplied if needed.  All conveying rollers are specially coated and driven by brushless servo motors to allow tension to be controlled precisely within the range 10-100N.
The double unwind station allows roll changes without interruption and the spoolers can be programmed to make any shape, including a simply rewound pancake.  Here strip tension is accurately controlled in the 3-10N range.  Further improvements in ADL handling are being developed, and these include automatic unloaders, despoolers and dust extractors.
Asked if diaper topsheet could be spooled, Mr Croutelle was not sure but said the idea could easily be tested in Calemard’s development facility.

Integrated winding, slitting, roll handling and packing

Alessandro Celli, CEO of A.Celli Nonwovens (Italy) listed the operations necessary for a perfect set of reels to be deposited in the loading bay for despatch to a diaper producer:
·         Reels are downloaded from the slitter-rewinder to have their tails locked with tape or glue
·         Reels, sometimes of different widths, then have to be sorted according to their size
·         Once sorted they have to be labelled inside the core and on the outside surface
·         They are then sorted by width and transferred to the wrapping system by conveyor belt, robot, or any automatic or manual vehicle
·         A pallet can be added
·         A wide variety of wrapping options are available: vertical horizontal, radial or cocoon including protective foam
·         The wrapped stack must be labelled in two, three or four positions according to production requirements

With spunbond lines 5m wide running at 80mm slit width and at speeds up to 850m/min, this system must handle about 15,000 rolls per day or 450,000 rolls per month.  It is done manually, but the case for integration and automation of the entire process with sales order processing is strong. Celli can now deliver the necessary robots and systems to achieve this, without any manual handling, thereby saving 2 operatives per shift. They can also deliver semi-automatic systems or even fully manual systems if necessary.

Cotton Carding Challenges

Oliver Döring, Area Sales Manager for Trützschler Nonwovens Group (Germany) highlighted the difficulties of converting cotton into nonwovens for cosmetic pads and wipes.  The variations of almost all properties of the natural fibre, both within and between bales, coupled with the need for bleaching to achieve absorbency and whiteness, made processing through opening, carding and hydroentanglement more challenging than for man-made fibres.
Long-fibre cotton is needed for fine textiles and the combing process extracts these fibres from cleaned raw cotton leaving behind the shorter “combers” or “comber noils” which are cheap enough for nonwoven use.  The combers have high short fibre content but average about 12 mm in length and must be bleached to remove the coloured oils and waxes that make natural cotton hydrophobic and easy to card.  After bleaching the fibre tends to be dustier and neppier and requires cards that can cope with these defects.  Suitable systems include:
·         Airlay cards for web weights in the 150-250gsm range from Fehrer or Rando, both using toothed rollers to disperse the web into individual fibres in an airstream prior to laying on a wire-mesh conveyor.
·         For weights of 50-150 gsm, Trützschler’s small-cylinder “roller train” system carded and randomised the web without air dispersion.
·         For 40-60 gsm webs, roller topped big-cylinder cards with single or double take-off and randomising from the main cylinder were best.
The latest systems combined surface- and line-carding actions and could blend as well as card in one pass through the system.

New Viscose Fibre types

Reinhold Röttenbacher, Nonwovens Business Manager for Kelheim Fibres (Germany) provided a detailed description of the viscose process and a tour of the specialities now made at KF:
·         Viloft™ a solid flat fibre with a crennelated surface and an aspect ratio of about 5:1 which sells into wipes for improved flushability.
·         Galaxy™, a Y shaped fibre with high surface, high bulk and high Syngina absorbency for tampons.
·         “Bramante” Segmented Hollow Fibre with very high absorbency and retention under pressure.
·         “Bellini” Extreme Flat Section (up to 20:1 aspect ratio), a self-bonding fibre for enhancing the strength of paper and wetlaid nonwovens.
·         Functional fibres: viscose with copper, silver, ion exchange resin or carbon loading. (e.g. “Poseidon” cation exchange fibre which offers an ion exchange capacity of 1.55 mmoles/gm, and controlled release of cations.
·          “Verdi” viscose with cellulose derivative loading e.g CMC, giving anionic charge, high absorbency, high water dispersibility and self-bonding properties in papermaking.
·         “Dante”, which is  “Bellini” plus “Verdi” giving 400% water imbibition.
·         Viscose with microcapsules of tracers, scents, or phase change material (e.g. Outlast™)
·         Spun-dyed fibres
·         A cationically charged viscose which uses a cellulose derivative to get faster and deeper shade development in dyeing.
·         Chemically modified viscoses to give e.g. hydrophobicity or flame retardance.

PLA Update

Eamonn Tighe, Business Development Manager for Natureworks LLC (Ireland) said Blair Nebraska was producing 140,000 tpa PLA polymer and debottlenecking to 150,000.  It was now used in 25 applications, 75% by weight being in packaging.  Fibre and nonwovens usage was growing nicely.  Trevira (Germany) were the 7th company to start production of staple fibre and Ahlstrom had been added to Fiberweb and CL Nonwovens (China) as spunbonders.   Corn price was proving more stable than oil price and for 2009, Ingeo™ polymer prices remained in the 0.8 to 1.1 $/lb range.  Mr Tighe emphasised that they can be flexible on price: they have a plant to fill and will do deals to encourage the right developments.
They were now planning the next plant for either Europe or Asia and this would reduce the GHG emissions by 60%  and require 45% less fossil fuel.  On-site wind power generation was a possibility and cellulose would be a likely source of lactic acid rather than cornstarch.  Anaerobic digestion was now thought to be the best disposal route especially for food contaminated packaging.  Recycling was better than composting, and regeneration of feedstock (lactic acid) for repolymerising was now operating at Galactic Laboratories in Belgium.
Spunbond bico fibres with an amorphous PLA sheath on an Ingeo™ core had been developed in NCRC and low nip pressures had given the best fabric strengths.  Meltblown nonwovens were under development at Biax Fiberfilm and US Pacific Nonwovens with mulching applications (to replace PE film) in  mind.
Finish type has been shown to be critically important because some finishes accelerate hydrolysis.  Natureworks now recommends Goulston materials.
Asked how long it would be before cellulose became the feedstock, Mr Tighe estimated 5-10 years and most likely in the USA where there was a real commitment to the biorefinery concept.  If the next plant was in Europe this would most likely use corn, but an Asian plant might start on biomass.

Hydrophilic Wet Finishing of Spunbonds

Tobias Schäfer, Area Sales Manager for Andritz Küsters (Germany)  put the global diaper market at 127 billion units in 2010 and predicted continued growth at 2.8% per year giving a 171 billion unit market in 2020.  Over a 42 month life in diapers each baby consumes an estimated 4380 units.
The strikethrough, wetback and runoff performance of diaper topsheet is now defined by the finish applied to the spunbond during production.  Finish at 0.3-0.7% or fiber (a 1 micron thick film) is obtained from a wet pickup of about 10% of the emulsion applied by lick-rolls on the spunbond line after calendering.  The high speed of spunbond production means high air turbulence at the lick rolls and this results in non-linear pick up.  Gauze covered rolls are now used to regain linearity at high speeds.  The finish can be applied in stripes to allow topsheet with hydrophobic edges to be made. Through-air drying is needed to remove the excess moisture.  Andritz Küsters can now supply the finish make-up and application kit and, since acquiring Perfojet, the dryers.  They are developing on-line detection of finish pickup, higher efficiency dryers, and on-line fluorocarbon finishing for medical applications.

Spunbond and Meltblown Opportunities

Arnold Wilkie, President of Hills Inc (USA) reviewed progress in spunbond and meltblown technology commencing with the Hills Inc view of the market.  Worldwide production of SB and MB is now around 2.5 million annual tonnes, 80% of this being polypropylene.  Growth rates up to 2009 were 10% per annum.  China alone produced 1.1 million tonnes of spunmelts, 90% being PP, and this was growing at 25%/year.  Polyester spunmelts are only 500,000 tpy globally, so just 3 or 4 continuous polymerisation units could supply the entire spunmelt PET industry.  Other polymer systems are under development:
·         PLA, EVOH and East One® are possible but may require a temperature separated bico spin beam to run in combination with PP
·         Thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers, Kraton®, Vistamaxx®, Pebax® and others may need a thin sheath of PP to prevent tackiness.  For MB they would need high pressure die assemblies.
·         Other polyesters such as PBT, PTT, CoPET and PA11 along with the high temperature and corrosive polymers such as PPS, Ultem®, and fluoropolymers are capable of being converted on Hills Inc kit.
For the newer polymers, new spin beams featuring the ability to run two polymers at different temperature to the same spinneret holes with equal polymer melt residence times, and a high-pressure capability cf PP (i.e. 10,000 psi) are required and indeed, available.
The now familiar array of bico possibilities including 10,000 islands in a sea spunbond “pixel” fiber, 600 islands in a sea melt-blown for nanofibre production, and the 32-lobed  Wing Fiber from sheath core technology were covered, as was the etched groove plate spin hole production method.  This was now capable of giving >100/inch holes of <0.1mm diameter and with >100/1 L/D compared with the drilled holes with 0.3mm 10/1 L/D.
Mr Wilkie thought the best route to nanofibres now involved a 1 denier 300 islands in a sea spunbond rather than melt-blown because this yielded uniform fibres of 430nm diameter for a filter at 10 times the production rate of the equivalent meltblown and 100 times the rate of electrospinning.  He also thought the main route to future growth in spunmelt production was the development of ever more textile-like materials to replace woven fabrics.

Sustainable Spunbonds?

Elsebeth Lykkegaard and Mette Due Sogaard representing Sales and R&D for Fibertex (Denmark) reviewed the progress Fibertex had made to improve sustainability.  Fibertex diversified from geotextiles into disposables in 1997 and now made over 100,000 tonnes per year of spunbond.  Between 1995 and 2009 they had trebled waste recycle rates, and since 2003 had halved CO2 emissions on a gsm basis (related to energy use only) largely by using a greater proportion of electricity from natural gas power stations.  In 2003, 4% of energy came from natural gas, now it was 19% and it would be increased to 26% by 2012.  With coal-fired power stations generating 4 times the CO2 of natural gas stations and renewables generating a sixtieth of coal emissions, the decision on how to deal with changes of energy source in LCA’s was difficult and here some industry standardisation was needed.  There was no discussion of the sustainability of either PP or disposables but Fibertex felt sustainability could be managed and there was no need to change the business model.  One questioner wondered how increasing waste recycle improved carbon footprint.  Does this mean producing 100% waste and recycling it yields the most sustainable process? 

Sustainable Wet-Wipes?

Anna Maija Wessman, VP Sustainability for Ahlstrom (Finland) said Ahlstrom’s sustainability framework involved sustainable sourcing, sustainable manufacturing and cradle-gate life-cycle analysis to minimise environmental impact of their products.  All of their pulp suppliers have Chain of Custody certification (FSC and PEFC schemes ensuring full traceability) and 12 of Ahlstrom’s plants and the group as a whole are Chain of Custody certified.  Their group Key Performance Indicators  (KPI’s) since 2005 show:
·         Energy use down by 4%
·         Heat Use down by 8%
·         Water Use down by 12%
·         Landfilled waste down by 48%
·         CO2 emissions down by 15%
·         90% of production under ISO 14001 environmental management system.
·         Disposability/end of life issues are being dealt with separately
Hydraspun Dispersible wipes used as moist toilet tissue, toddler training wipes and feminine hygiene wipes provided a case study.  Flushability is defined according to the EDANA/INDA guidelines and implies dispersibility coupled with biodegradability.  The vast majority of the raw materials are cellulose based fibres and the Ställdalen (Sweden) products have been FSC and PEFC certified since 2008.  The Windsor Locks (CT USA) people are studying market interest in certificates.  When both plants are taken together, since 1999, KPI’s indicate that Energy use is down 22%, Heat down 30%, Water down 24%, Landfill down 94% and CO2 down 85%.  Ställdalen’s warm effluent now provides space heating for 70 local apartments.  For the future they are improving wet strength without losing dispersibility, and will be introducing recycled fibres to the blend.
Asked about water conservation, the water footprint method has been defined and site usage is now 1 litre per 1000m2 of product.  Water required for flushing is not included – if indeed a wipe requires any extra flush water above that of a normal toilet load.  Could a converter label a non-flushable  product as flushable?  Yes, but here Ahlstrom would try to sell them the flushable version.  “We rely on the professionalism of the sales force”.

Wet Wipe Preservation

Wolfgang Siegert of Schülke and Mayr (Germany) listed the most sought after preservative properties as:
·         Effective against bacteria and fungi over a wide pH range while being easy to use and handle
·         Compatible with the nonwovens and cost effective at low concentrations
·         Free from odour and colour and safe in the environment
·         Extremely low toxicity to humans and thus approved by world-wide regulators.
Regulatory aspects were the key because current preservatives such as parabens were under pressure and many had not been subjected to a thorough scientific assessment of suspected risks.  Marketers therefore wanted to make “Free-of” claims or link their products to eco-labels, independent experts or consumer protection groups.  Technically, the way forward appeared to involve using synergies between preservatives to minimise the amounts required.  For example the combination of phenoxyethanol and the multifunctional additive ethylhexylglycerine was comparable to paraben/phenoxyethanol.  If chelating agents such as the biodegradable tetrasodium glutamate diacetate (GLDA) were also added further benefits including “self preservation” were obtained.  Self-preserving skin care systems use butylene-, pentylene-, and capryloylglycols, or hexanediol and all of these achieve better antimicrobial efficacy when ethylhexylglycerine is added.
Biodegradable and flushable wipes wet-wipes need better protection.  Natural fibres might carry a higher microbial load and are attacked by trichoderma viride, a cellulose-degrading mould which is evolving to cope with the older preservatives.
Asked if antimicrobial fibres containing Ag+ can be effective as preservatives, Mr Siegert said these were tried 10 years ago and because they work by blocking enzymes, they can easily be by-passed by evolving microorganisms.  Traditional preservatives are better.

Absorbent Sponge Sheets

Calvin Woodings (Consultant – UK) reviewed cellulose sponge production methods and compared the technology with viscose fibre production.  While using the same basic xanthate dissolution technology as fibres, sponges are made on a small scale and as a result are expensive niche products restricted mainly to higher value semi-durable household cleaning applications.  Are they small scale because the market is inherently small or is the market size restricted by the high price?  The technology for producing sheet sponges by more economical processes on a much larger scale appears to exist already, and sheet sponges produced on such a scale would be bulky highly absorbent “nonwovens” with many potential uses in disposable hygienic products.
Because sponge sheets have to be reinforced with fibres to get adequate strength, the use of viscose technology may be unnecessary.  Pulp may dissolve well enough in caustic soda alone, especially at sub-zero temperatures to yield a dope with sufficient undissolved fibres to act as reinforcement.  Forming pores by air dispersion or creation of ice crystals may obviate the need for the traditional glaubers salt pore-former and the resulting dope preparation process could take place in a single large pulper.  The dope could be extruded through a wide die onto a conveyor for regeneration prior to washing.  The whole process would be more analogous to pulp manufacturing technology than the current sponge routes and could operate on a larger scale. 
Carried out at a pulp mill with infrastructure for recovering the caustic soda, costs of the resulting “spongy nonwoven” would be significantly less than the current sponge sheets and could be usable in the wider hygienic disposables market.

Forest Certification

Karen Brandt, VP Marketing for the Sustainable Forest Initiative Inc (USA) said forest certification demonstrates a commitment to sustainability by showing you buy from well managed forests which protect the woodlands for future generations. It delivers:
·         Decision making based on social, economic and environmental representations
·         Avoidance of illegal timber
·         Maintenance of wildlife habitat and protection of species at risk
·         Sustainable harvesting and prompt forest regeneration
However only 9% of forests are currently certified and 90% of those are in the North America and Europe.  This must be improved, so consumers are being encouraged to demand only certified wood products thereby forcing more forest owners to seek certificates.
There are currently 50 certification schemes worldwide but despite everyone’s efforts rates of certification are falling.  SFI was developed for North America, while the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) deals with tropical regions.   A point by point comparison of the services offered suggested these 2 schemes were identical.  The Canadian Standard Association runs a scheme (CSA) and the Certified Family Forest (CFF) is a US scheme dealing with privately owned forests.  The Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an umbrella scheme endorsing national schemes. (certifying the certifiers?)
In conclusion Ms Brandt argued that we should not quibble over the merits of the various schemes.  The fundamental goal is to protect the tropical rain forests, and none seems to be succeeding in this.
Asked why certification rates were slowing down, Ms Brandt thought all the big forests in North America and Europe were now certified.  Smaller family forests (60% of the NA total) found the certification procedures too onerous, and where it really mattered, in tropical regions, there was no legal framework on which to base a scheme. Would the multitude of schemes coalesce into a larger more effective body?  Maybe, but SFI and FSC would still exist 5 years from now.  FSC was the first, created in 1990 by the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace.  SFI is independent.

REACh:  Is there anything left to do?

Barry Dodd, Global Regulatory Affairs Manager for Kimberly-Clark Europe (UK) reminded us that REACh implementation will run until 2018 at least, will interact with other pieces of legislation in Europe and beyond (e.g. Classification, Labelling and Packaging – CLP), and there are still many substances remaining to be registered.  Failure to register on time – there are lists closing in November 2010, May 2013, and May 2018, with high volume chemicals requiring the earliest registration – would result in the chemical being withdrawn from the market. 
REACh is limited to chemicals used in excess of 1 tonne per year, but the CLP has no such limit and will impact many more chemicals and products imported in small volumes.  Both REACh and CLP regulations will have to be monitored, the former for MSDS requirements and the latter for labelling requirements. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) must be notified of CLP classifications by 3/1/2011 for them to be included in the inventory, and here the data requirements are significant:  200+ fields on the form for each chemical! 
REACh-like legislation is now proliferating around the world but without any real harmonisation of requirements.  “For manufacturers managing the collection and distribution of information along the supply chain this will be challenging especially as the list of SVHC’s continues to grow”

Nonwoven Tissue Engineering

Annahit Arshi, an Assistant Research at ITT RWTH Aachen University (Germany) is developing a small needleloom to make nonwoven scaffolds for tissue culture with an EU grant.  This laboratory-scale machine had to make medical grade flexible nonwovens without needling marks, contamination of any sort and very uniform porosity.  Such nonwovens had a structure similar to human tissue, could be shaped to suit the final product (e.g. heart valve) and had good absorbency and mechanical properties.  Once the loom had been perfected and proved she would proceed to developing a medical grade card and staple fibre cutter.

Calvin Woodings
16th June 2010

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