Friday 30 May 2014

INDA Vision Dallas: Wetlace, AI, Diaper Bank & Sustainability

Here are the last of the summaries of the Vision papers:

Mark Janulis, Sales Director of NAFTA-Andritz Inc. promoted Andritz machinery in general and the Andritz hydroentangled wet-laid nonwoven production line in particular.  To make flushable wipes the Wetlace line uses a flat-bed one-side only hydroentanglement zone instead of the usual both-sides drum system, and this, when used with fibres no longer than 10mm can make wipe substrate that passes all the latest flushability tests.  The recommended stock is woodpulp reinforced with either viscose or Tencel fibre.  The line can run up to 400m/min but will cost about 2.5x that of a dry-lay line.

Jim Minetola, Technical Services Director at First Quality Enterprises reviewed the progress made since the National Association for Continence launched its initiative to provide quality standards for adult incontinence products.  NAFC comprises Medicaid managers from CA, MA, MN, SC, and TX., AI producers (Attends, FQ, KC, Medline, PBE, SCA), INDA, the Wound and Ostomy Nurses Association and the National Family Caregivers Association.  The performance measures being used on the AI briefs are INDA standard strikethrough and rewet, capacity under load and elastic tension, but the total picture considers size range, absorbency range, closure systems, breathability, and safety.  

Recommended maximum retention under pressure ranges from  400mls for premium-priced products to 250mls for standard products. Strikethrough times range from  50-60 seconds for briefs to 35-45 seconds for underwear.   Rewets below 0.3gms feel bone dry, and rewets above 0.5 feel wet to the user.  Bone-dry products lead to skin damage through abrasion.

·        In 25,000 tests, the modal urine void is 100 mls in the daytime and 200mls overnight.  Most pads are therefore overdesigned and absorbency is overpromoted.

Joanne Goldblum, Founder and Executive Director of the National Diaper Bank, said her organisation was a charity providing free diapers to the poor with Huggies as its main sponsor.  Huggies have so far donated 22 million diapers in the USA and Canada.  She described diapers as a basic need along with food and housing, but said they were not covered by Medicaid  Food Stamps or WIC.  Reusable diapers were not a good alternative because Laundromats would not allow them to be washed.  Without disposables, mothers could not access child-care and could not get a job.  Asked how many children suffer diaper-poverty, Ms Goldblum thought it would be about 100million.

Lee Ann Head, VP Research and Insight at Shelton Consulting has found that in 2013, 66% of consumers care about sustainability compared with 60% in 2009.  68% are looking for low-energy light bulbs, 65% for sustainable home cleaning products and 63% for sustainable paper products.  Their top environmental concerns last year were climate change, pollution and ozone depletion.  They feel most guilty about wasting food, water and electricity and worry about failure to recycle.  However over half do recycle and a third actively avoid disposable products such as plates, cups and towels.  10% will seek out bioplastics or other compostable disposables. 48% say a company’s environmental reputation will affect buying decisions and claim they will stop buying from companies exposed as harming the environment.  The key features encouraging them to buy are “Made in the USA”, “No chemicals”, “No animal testing” “Creates no chemical waste”, and “made from recycled material.”

Friday 23 May 2014

Bio-Based Polyolefins

James Kahn, Commercial Manager of Braskem America Inc. observed that while there were no Environmentally Friendly packaging claims on new product launches before 2006, since  2010, 10-12% of all product launches featured such claims. Most of these claims were based on the use of bioplastics,  either “drop-in” replacements for petro-polymers or compostable polymers.  (To further clarify the distinction between the types, “drop-in” uses the same molecules as petro-polymers, but uses them before they’ve been buried for millions of years.)

Braskem’s Green Polyethylene plant started in Sept 2010 and cost $290 million to make 200,000 tonnes of HDPE and LLDPE.  Further investment has now occurred allowing LDPE production to start.  Sugar cane is is crushed, fermented to alcohol and distilled prior to conversion to ethylene.  The sugar-free cane is burnt to produce electricity.  Current partners in replacing the petro version of PE with the bio-version are P&G with Pantene, Coca-Cola, Yuhan Kimberly with Huggies, MSA and Ecover.  

They are also working with Natureworks and Fitesa to produce a bio-based bico spunbond nonwoven using a PLA core and PE sheath.  These have comparable tensiles but slightly lower elongations than the PE/PP bico spunbonds.  LCA on a cradle to gate (in Brazil) basis showed a favourable carbon footprint and energy usage compared with the petro-polymer.

Monday 19 May 2014

Millennials become Parents

More from INDA Vision - Dallas 2014...

Jeff Fromm, Executive Vice President, Barkley defined Millennials as those born between 1977 and 1995; 60 million people in the USA whose mind-set is also affecting the buying habits of their parents.  

For Millennials, the most respected companies and the best companies to work for are the same:  No.1 is Google, No.2 is You-Tube (Google-owned) and No.3 is Amazon.  Apple is No.11.  The products they look for must have the usual functional and emotional advantages over the competition, but in addition they must now offer “participative benefits”.  

The new consumers want to be treated not as a target audience but as a partner in the product development process with a view to becoming active co-creators of the next generation of products.

Other words of wisdom from his book “Marketing to Millennials” included:

  • ·         Millennials are 2.5x more likely to be early adopters of anything new.
  • ·         You must engage the early adopters.
  • ·         Move from storytelling to storydoing.
  • ·         Great storydoing brands can be outspent by their competitors but are rarely outperformed.  They stand for more than the bottom line.
  • ·         Design a sense of adventure and fun into new products e.g exotic but affordable new food.
  • ·         Millennial mums demand “useful” products.  (Useful is the new Cool).
  • ·         Millennials don’t simply buy a product or service; they buy into a “brand idea”.
  • ·         Millennials are not loyal to a product or service and have great power to change things.  They have yet to reach their maximum earning capacity.

Monday 12 May 2014

Bio-based feedstocks for non-biodegradable plastics

More from INDA Vision - Dallas 2014...

Dr Jim Lunt, MD of Jim Lunt & Associates LLC differentiated bio-based and bio-degradable products.  The former must test positive for carbon 14, proving that new plant matter had been used, but need not be biodegradable. The latter must meet recognised biodegradation standards but can be free of C14, i.e. made from fossil fuels.  

The most common feedstocks for bio-based plastics are food crops: corn, sugar beet, sugar cane, sorghum, sweet potato, wheat, coconut oil, palm oil, and soy beans along with the non-edible castor beans and jatropha. 

Conversion of food to fuel transportation is becoming unacceptable so lignocellulosics (wood and agricultural residues) algae and food waste are being considered.  Currently, the major routes to “drop-in” monomers for today’s polymers are:

1. Sugar cane -> ethanol -> ethylene ->ethylene glycol
2. Sugar or corn -> paraxylene (Virent process) -> terephthalic acid
3. Sugar or corn -> succinic acid -> butanediol or adipic acid
4. Corn à glycerol -> propane diol
5. Sugar or corn -> furan 2,5 dicarboxylic acid (YXY Technology)

First generation bioplastics such as Polylactic acid, starch PLA blends and Poly hydroxyl alkanoates all have problems with hydrolytic stability because they were designed to be biodegradable when that seemed to be a good idea.
Now the second-generation bioplastics are identical to the non-degradable petro-polymers but are made using some monomer from biomass e.g 

  • Braskem's Polyethylene (route 1 above), 
  • Syncom’s Polyester (combining monomers from Routes 1 and 2), 
  • Rennovia’s Nylon 6,6 (Route 3 monomer with some of the glucose converted to hexamethylene diamine).  
  • Dupont’s Sorona, Poly trimethylene terephthalate, a nylon substitute, combines monomers from routes 2 and 4).
Bioplastics are expected to grow from 205,000 tonnes in 2005 to 1.2 million tonnes in 2020 as the emphasis is switched from biodegradable or compostable to non-degradable drop-in replacements for petro-polymers.

Friday 9 May 2014

German Federal Court prohibits Lenzing acquisition of Kelheim Fibres

The Austrian Company Lenzing AG intended to purchase 90% of the German company Kelheim Hygiene Fibres GmbH. Kelheim is an important producer of viscose fibres, which are mainly used for manufacturing tampons. Lenzing is the only competitor. In 2012 Lenzing and Kelheim notified the Federal Cartel Office about the intended merger, but argued that the only market concerned was a de minimis market (ie, a market on which goods or commercial services had been offered for at least five years and which had a German sales volume of less than €15 million in the past year), with the result that the specific transaction in question would not have been subject to merger control.(3)
Kelheim and Lenzing took the view that their combined German sales of approximately €10 million constituted the entire German market volume, and thus the market for viscose fibres in Germany was a de minimis market. Kelheim and Lenzing considered their turnover with Johnson & Johnson to be foreign turnover because Johnson & Johnson's central purchasing department was based in Switzerland. However, viscose fibres worth roughly €10 million, while being purchased by this central purchasing department in Switzerland, were shipped directly from the suppliers to Johnson & Johnson's production site in Germany, without first going through Switzerland.
The Federal Cartel Office decided that the turnover with Johnson & Johnson had to be allocated to Germany, since the fibres were delivered by way of a transfer order directly to the production site in Wuppertal, Germany. Consequently, the total German market volume of viscose fibres was approximately €20 million and thus exceeded the de minimis market threshold. On this basis, the Federal Cartel Office considered that it had jurisdiction and prohibited the transaction on these merits.
Lenzing and Kelheim appealed, arguing that the turnover could not be allocated to Germany because the central purchasing organisation managing the purchases was situated in Switzerland. As a result, according to Lenzing and Kelheim, the German market was a de minimis market and the Federal Cartel Office was not competent to prohibit the transaction.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Protecting the Sewers from Flushables

More from INDA Vision - Dallas 2014...

Cynthia Finley is Director-Regulatory Affairs at NACWA, an organisation which represents ~300 publically-owned sewage works, and hence the majority of the sewered population of the USA.  She mentioned the $100bn US annual maintenance spend on sewer infrastructure and the EPA’s need for an additional $300-$500bn to replace obsolete sewers over the next 20 years.  She was against labelling products as “Flushable” and felt that allowing some wipes to be flushed would cause confusion.  It would be hard to tell the difference between a flushable and non-flushable wipe without reading the packet, and both types would be flushed by some people.

With regard to the flushability testing methods she pointed out that the toilet flush is the most turbulence a wipe would experience in the sewer system.  Flow is laminar in 45mm sewer pipes and even flushable wipes fail to disperse further after the flush.  Slides indicated that colour-coded flushable wipes are leaving the sewer pipes without disintegration. So, a modified “slosh box” test is needed because the current version is too turbulent and passes products which might fail in an actual sewer.

NACWA is now working with INDA, the Water Environment Federations and the American Public Works Association to further evaluate the Maine pilot consumer education project results, to plan a national campaign, and to expand the use of the “Do Not Flush” label.

Friday 2 May 2014

Progressive Diaper Design. (Part 2)

More from INDA Vision - Dallas 2014:  this is the second part of Carlos Richer's update on diaper design...

Cotton is coming in 2014! 
Hydroentangled 100% cotton topsheets with controlled hydrophilicity were now becoming available in the USA and these would grow in premium diapers.  Cotton had been used in the backsheet of Huggies “Pure and Natural” simply to get the “Cotton” label.  Now it could be used in the topsheet where it mattered, mothers were expected to be even more interested.  MTS testing of the naturally hydrophobic unbleached (greige) spun-laced cotton with an “Ultra-Phil” finish had given satisfactory rewet and acquisition rates, and a new cotton diaper launch could be expected later this year.

Also New For 2014...
·      China would become the world’s largest diaper market and would achieve this at a penetration level of only 29%.  It was expected to double to by 2020 and by the time it reached the western world’s 95% penetration the market for nonwovens would be gigantic.  USA would remain the second largest market but by 2020, Brazil would be No.3. 

  • ·         The “Hottest” markets were listed as China, Brazil, Indonesia, India, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and Nigeria.
  • ·         Pakistan was worth noting especially.  Penetration is 6% and they have the same number of babies as the EU.  P&G is the market leader with an imported diaper, but Ontex is starting local production.  Here there is a large demand for single diapers and these are often bought loose in bulk in preference to the formal packs.
  • ·         SAP/Pulp ratios would average 50% in emerging markets by 2015 when western diapers would be at 2:1.  The move to 100% SAP was required before the much heralded fully elastic diaper became a reality.  To Carlos’s surprise the pulpless “Drylock” diaper was doing well in the UK despite its apparently high cost structure.  Maybe costs had been reduced in the last year, or losses were being tolerated to gain share.
  • ·         The first elastic diaper could be expected to appear in 2014.  This would only be elastic in the cross-direction.  MD elasticity caused problems in conversion.