Manufacturers look to balance sustainability with efficacy
Karen McIntyre, Editor 02.04.21
Like most consumer markets in 2020, nonwovens wipes trends were upended by the Coronavirus pandemic. As consumers worked overtime to sanitize their homes and themselves, demand for disinfectant and hand sanitizing wipes skyrocketed. At the same time, toilet paper shortages, brought on by consumer stockpiling, led consumers to try flushable wipes, driving up this category. And, experts predict demand to stay strong.
“People are going to continue to focus on keeping their hands as clean as possible and disinfectant wipes make this way more convenient. With flushable wipes, we have seen that even as toilet paper supply began to return to shelves, many consumers continue to use moist toilet tissue and flushable wipes,” says INDA president Dave Rousse. “They have tried the product and they liked it.”
According to Smithers, the market for nonwovens wipes consumed 1.4 million tons of nonwovens in 2020 while its market value reached $19.6 billion. From 2015-2020 annual growth was reported at 7.9% but this rate is expected to decrease slightly to 5.7%.
Personal care wipes, meanwhile, are expected to be the fastest growing consumer segment, generating nearly $4 billion in sales. Baby wipes, which are the largest personal care market, with global retail sales of about $5.7 billion, have faced slow growth for several years based on a number of factors including lower birth rates, high penetration rates and new applications for wipes. In 2020, however, baby wipes sales surged as consumers hoarded all types of wipes.
Industry Prepares for Growth
Consistent growth across all the key categories for disposable wipes has been met with significant investment in 2020. The two largest converters of wipes globally—Rockline Industries and Nice-Pak—have both announced ambitious expansion plans to prepare for future growth.
While Rockline’s investment—in Sheboygen, WI—will target disinfectant wipes for private label applications, this capacity will free up existing lines for personal care applications, which have been in short supply due to increase demand for surface care applications.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has created a new level of awareness among the American people about the importance of proper surface disinfection,” says Randy Rudolph, president of Rockline Industries. “We are making a huge investment in the future by installing the Galaxy line to ensure that our customers will be able to meet consumers’ increasing demand for disinfecting wipes.”
The new Galaxy line, which is being custom designed by Rockline’s Global Engineering Group and built in partnership with several of the world’s largest converting equipment manufactures is expected to be operational in mid-2021.
Meanwhile, Nice-Pak has announced dual investments to meet demand for its wipes portfolio. In November, the wet wipes producer said it would add a new line in Arkansas to double disinfectant wipe output, while in December it announced a $165 million investment to house manufacturing and distribution at a single location in Mooresville, IN.
“Our new investment in Mooresville is an important milestone in our mission of helping the world stay healthy and well,” says Robert Julius, chairman and CEO of Nice-Pak. “We could not think of a better partner than the Mooresville community in our ongoing efforts to meet the increasing demand for wipes—essential products in helping to protect against Covid-19.”
The state-of-the-art facility will remain zero landfill as part of Nice-Pak’s “war on waste” that includes more efficient energy and water use and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Designed by ARCO Design/Build in Indianapolis, the facility will boast a sustainability profile with plans for natural and LED lighting, low-flow water fixtures, eco-friendly landscaping, high-efficiency HVAC systems, low VOC paints and floor coverings and a white roof to reject heat gain. The building is planned to be constructed from local concrete and regionally-sourced, heavily-recycled content steel.
As wipes producers ramp up new capacity to meet demand, the supply chain is also getting ready. New spunlace investment has been announced by Jacob Holm, which will increase its output in Candler, NC, by the end of the year.
Not only will this new investment increase spunlace capacity, it will also boost the company’s sustainable products lines, which has become an important trend within the disposable wipes market. Executives say the investment confirms Jacob Holm’s commitment to support the growth of its customers and to continue to play a leading role in the industry as well as its aim to continue targeting its partners’ needs for growing volumes of sustainable product offerings and co-innovation abilities.
Likewise, spunlace manufacturer Suominen has made several nonwovens investments in line with its strategy of focusing on innovative and sustainable nonwovens.
“Our vision is to be the frontrunner for nonwovens innovation and sustainability,” says Petri Helsky, president and CEO of Suominen Corporation. “We will ensure our leadership with future-oriented R&D and by accelerating the commercialization of our innovations.
“There are two targets that we aim to achieve with this strategy: growth and improved profitability. We believe that we can grow together with our customers in the changing market by offering sustainable products which the end users are increasingly demanding. Profitability will be improved also by investing in upgrading our assets, new product development, and our operational excellence initiatives.”
In line with this strategy, in July Suominen announced it would boost its European capacity by upgrading and restarting a line in Cressa, Italy, and upgrading a line in South Carolina to widen its offerings to U.S. customers. The two projects together represent an investment of €14 million.
Meanwhile, on the product development front, Suominen has launched Biolace Bamboo, a plant-based substrate that offers superior softness and cleanability to meet the multiple requirements of various wipe applications. Additionally, the products are biodegradable, compostable and plastic free.
“Biolace Bamboo offers a luxurious feeling; it is the softest biodegradable alternative to viscose and cotton nonwovens that are typically used in wipes and has a texture reminiscent of a cashmere-silk blend. It’s perfect for use with sensitive skin,” says Johanna Sirén, category manager at Suominen.
Other upcoming spunlace investments are planned throughout the globe by companies including Minet in Romania, Nan Liu in Taiwan and India, BC Nonwovens in Spain, Biosphere in the Ukraine, Zhejiang Baoren in China, Eruslu and Karweb in Turkey and Novita in Poland.
A focus on sustainability and reducing the environmental footprint of wipes manufacturing is being seen throughout the wipes supply chain. In sync with this trend, one of the world’s largest producers of baby wipes, Kimberly-Clark, has recently launched a new range of Huggies Pure Biodegradable wipes in the U.K. that biodegrade after 15 days in simulated landfill conditions.
The plastic-free wipes are made with 100% naturally derived fibers, Huggies says. Independent testing shows Huggies Pure Biodegradable wipes will biodegrade in landfill conditions after 15 days, making them the brand’s first biodegradable product.
The brand has committed to eliminating plastic from its baby wipes range in the U.K. within five years or sooner.
In addition to launching its first biodegradable product, Huggies has made significant progress against the other goals that make up its ‘Tiniest Footprint’ Mission. Achievements made to date include: removing 359 tons of plastic from its total baby wipes portfolio (on an annual basis); removing 17 tons of plastic a year from the Huggies Extra Care portfolio (on an annual basis) and removing the internal plastic bags within its large pack boxes, a saving of 43 tons of plastic (on an annual basis).
“We know this announcement will be welcome news for parents who rely on these wipes as an everyday childcare essential but are also trying to reduce their impact on the planet,” says Ori Ben Shai, vice president & managing director Kimberly-Clark UK & Ireland. “No parent should have to compromise between caring for their baby and caring for the environment, so we’re proud to be able to offer them an affordable and sustainable solution, with baby’s skin care at its core.
“Launching our first biodegradable product brings us ever closer to fulfilling the goals made in our ‘Tiniest Footprint’ Mission. We know we still have a long way to go on this ambitious plan, but we are committed to developing the best possible products that meet our consumers’ ever-changing demands.”
Polish company EcoWipes has been focusing on raw material development to improve the environmental profile of its product. Its latest development, Tricell, is an innovative nonwoven based on FSC-certified cellulose. The cellulose pulp is produced by dissolving, cleaning and bleaching fibers.
The goal for EcoWipes is to develop innovative technologically advanced solutions to provide eco-friendly alternatives for distributors and will make it possible to eliminate plastic from hygienic and cosmetic products. With Tricell, large retail chains will be able to save as much as 450 tons of plastic annually on wet wipes for children, an equivalent of the average amount of plastic swallowed by more than 1000 whales – scientists from the Philippines found one whale which had consumed around 40 kg of plastic.
For the hygiene products industry, this is a revolutionary development. The innovative material will make everyday care products safe not only for the skin, but also for the environment, the company says.
Products like Tricell will help the wipes industry better prepare for the Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUP), European legislation intended to reduce the negative impact of plastic waste on the planet. Starting from 2021, the sales of disposable products such as plastic buds will be prohibited. Products without readily available alternatives will require special markings, including information on whether the product contains plastic.
In advance of this legislation, wipes manufacturers are also looking at cotton as a top raw material choice. Kub Wipes’ 100% Premium Cotton Dry Wipes are made with pure, 100% premium cotton fibers; are free from liquids or chemicals and are antibacterial and antifungal.
Kub Wipes’ 75% Alcohol Wipes consist of 75% plant-based alcohol with aloe vera extract to ensure deep clean without harming skin and are made with nonwoven fabric that’s perfect to grab for daily cleansing at home or on the go.
The Kub founding team says: “We have been developing our flagship product, the 100% Premium, Pure Cotton Dry Wipes for months, however, everything changed when Covid-19 began to threaten the world…instead of focusing on the problem, we decided to become part of the solution. We put all our energy into trying to take advantage of our relationships with factories and suppliers of wipes and other personal care and sanitary material, to change the direction of our priorities and focus on bringing a product that would be even more useful in an exceptional circumstance like the one we were – and are – experiencing.”
Hand Sanitizing Wipes Stop the Spread
According to a report conducted by Arizton Advisory and Intelligence in mid 2020, the market for antiseptic wipes will grow 18% per year from 2019-2025 driven by high demand from hospitals; the rising number of hospital acquired infections will push the growth of the healthcare segment which is likely to contribute over $2.7 billion incremental revenue between 2019 and 2025. The outbreak of Covid-19 has deeply impacted the distribution network for global market for antiseptic wipes and there has been rising growth in the online channel. However, the retail shops continued to dominate the market with about 93% share of distribution network in 2019.
Another important factor affecting the growth of antiseptic wipes is the eruption of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. has recommended cleaning hands and high-touch surfaces with alcohol-based hand sanitizers, disinfectant sprays, or antibacterial wipes with 60% or more alcohol to prevent the spread of Covid-19, SARS-COV-2 in homes and residential communities. According to the CDC, alcoholic sanitizer products are effective against SARS coronavirus if they contain a minimum of 60% of isopropyl or ethyl alcohol.
In response to these growth projections, companies like Cintas Corporation have launched hand hygiene and hard surface solution wipes, which can kill 99.9% of germs on washable hard, non-porous surfaces, and the sanitizing wipes are alcohol-free. Both are suitable for use in educational, retail, fitness and foodservice facilities.
“Placing disinfecting wipes and sanitizing wipes throughout a facility sends a message that the facility cares about cleanliness and the health and wellness of its patrons and employees,” says Markus Kuykendoll, marketing manager, Cintas. “Wipe dispensers are stocked in large quantities to help ensure product availability for building guests and workers, and improve worker productivity by reducing stocking frequency.”
When used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, the disinfecting wipes clean and disinfect in one step, making it convenient for facilities with high foot traffic and single-use areas. The wipes are suitable for use on doorknobs, desks, tables and other hard, non-porous surfaces throughout a facility.
Sanitizing wipes fast-acting alcohol-free formula makes it easy and convenient to use. Wipes may be placed in common areas with high-touch points, such as doors, elevators, shopping carts, escalators, and more, so employees and customers can sanitize their hands easily before and after contact.
“Washing hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds is the most effective way to perform hand hygiene, but these essentials are not always available. Our sanitizing wipes provide a complementary option for cleaning hands in public facilities when soap and water isn’t readily available,” adds Kuykendoll. “Additionally, our easy-to-use disinfecting wipes give customers and employees peace of mind that disinfecting options are readily available for use at any time.”
In June, PDI, a global leader in infection prevention products and solutions, announced that Super Sani-Cloth wipes, the No. 1 disinfecting wipe in healthcare, received approval for the SARS-CoV-2 efficacy claim from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA approval expanded the label claims for Super Sani-Cloth wipes (EPA Reg No. 9480-4) to include deactivation of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, after one minute of contact time on hard, nonporous surfaces. Before a product can legally make efficacy claims against a particular pathogen, the claim must be approved by the EPA based on a thorough review of scientific data. According to the data provided by PDI Healthcare, the Super Sani-Cloth wipes caused a 3-log reduction against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which meets the EPA’s efficacy requirements. Prior to receiving approval for this claim, Super Sani-Cloth wipes were included on EPA’s List N entitled “Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2.”
“As a leader in infection prevention, we are committed to help protect patients, caregivers and communities,” says Sean Gallimore, senior vice president and general manager of PDI Healthcare. “Our layered approach to infection prevention enables our customer to have a robust portfolio of high quality solutions to avoid healthcare acquired infections. Receiving EPA claim approval provides assurance to our customers that Super Sani-Cloth wipes are effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
Microbac Lab tested the wipes in compliance with EPA Product Performance Test Guideline OCSPP 810.2200: Disinfectants for Use on Environmental Surfaces, Guidance for Efficacy Testing. When performing the testing, the lab applied the virus to a surface and let it dry. They then applied the wipe to the surface, recovered what was left on the surface and applied it to cell cultures. They were then able to tell how effective the cloth was at deactivating the virus based on how many viable cells remained.
Flushability Efforts Continue
To address the need for long-term solutions to the problems in the nation’s wastewater systems caused by inproper flushing, the Responsible Flushing Alliance has been formed as an independent nonprofit with a mission of educating consumers about responsible and smart flushing habits in partnership with wastewater and sanitation industries.
The Responsible Flushing Alliance, established with 501(c)(6) status, also announced the hiring of Lara Wyss as its president. Wyss comes to the Responsible Flushing Alliance with more than 20 years of experience in communications and public relations, with an emphasis on environmental affairs and the consumer products industry.
“I’m excited to take the lead for the Responsible Flushing Alliance as we work to raise awareness and education about how proper flushing contributes to a healthier home and office, safe environment and well-maintained sewer systems,” Wyss says. “Targeted and collaborative public education about what not to flush will lead to reduced wastewater costs, improve the health of our waterways and the safety of our public works professionals.”
The first initiative that Wyss will spearhead for the Responsible Flushing Alliance is a consumer and industry education campaign to raise awareness about the proper disposal practices for non-flushable products and to advocate for the prominent placement of “Do Not Flush” labels on non-flushable products.
Initially, the campaign will focus on California where the Responsible Flushing Alliance has partnered with the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) to develop an industry-led, statewide awareness campaign in California.
“Just because an item can clear a toilet bowl, doesn’t mean it should be flushed,” Wyss says. “We’re looking forward to working with California’s sanitation and wastewater industries to raise awareness about what not to flush to keep our infrastructure operational.”
The Responsible Flushing Alliance looks forward to expanding efforts nationwide through partnerships with other wastewater and sanitation stakeholders.
“The creation of the Responsible Flushing Alliance as an independent nonprofit organization allows us to better focus on our mission to elevate consumer awareness of how smart flushing behavior in the bathroom impacts the overall health of our homes, and ultimately our communities,” says Becky Johnson, the Responsible Flushing Alliance’s board chairman and global public policy director at Kimberly Clark. “The Responsible Flushing Alliance is committed to contributing real solutions by working with the wastewater and sanitation industries to educate consumers about making smart flushing decisions. To be successful, this effort will take all stakeholders working together. We invite others to join us.”
Responsible Flushing Alliance Coalition Members include companies including Albaad, Center for Baby and Adult Hygiene Products, Essity, First Quality, Georgia-Pacific, Johnson & Johnson, Jacob Holm, Kelheim Fibres, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Nehemiah Manufacturing, Nice-Pak, Procter & Gamble, Rockline Industries, Sellars Nonwovens and Suominen Corporation.
Read the original article here: https://www.nonwovens-industry.com/issues/2021-02/view_features/personal-care-wipes-respond-to-change/