President, Philip Mango Consulting
BIOGRAPHYPhil Mango has spent over thirty years in nonwovens industry, working in high-level technical and executive positions for multiple organizations; including commercializing one of the world’s first lines of multi-bonded airlaid for wipes.
Since 2007 Mango has worked as an expert industry consultant for the nonwovens and wipes industries. He has headed over multiple studies for Smithers clients, including multi-national firms and market consultancies, in these fast developing industries. He has also authored more than 35 Smithers market reports on nonwovens, wipes, and major business and technical trends impacting this sector.
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
The Nonwoven Wipes Supply Chain Response to “Plastics Free”
Although the desire for more sustainable wipes has existed for at least a decade, the European Union’s Single Use Plastics Directive and its explicit inclusion of disposable wipes in 2019 accelerated demand for a response from the industry.
Over the last few years, the nonwoven wipes industry has rushed to respond to the European Union’s Single Use Plastics Directive, and its threatened extended producer responsibility. Much of this response has been product related, mostly replacing “plastic” polyester fiber with either rayon or lyocell. This is relatively simple, as the standard card based spunlace lines producing most wipes can switch from polyester/rayon blends to 100% rayon or rayon/lyocell blends quickly and painlessly. But such products are not perfect solutions; there can be significant cost or performance issues.
The better answer is a broader, total supply chain response. Raw material providers, production equipment suppliers, nonwoven producers and wipes converters all can play important roles.
Starting with raw materials, rayon, lyocell, cotton and wood pulp are all known “non-plastic” raw materials, but new materials like hemp and flax are emerging as candidates. While most biopolymers are “plastics”, some like polyhydroxyalkanoates can be also biodegradable and renewably sourced. New processes designed for “plastics free” products include carded/wetlaid pulp spunlace (CPwet), and card/airlaid/card spunlace (CAC) as well as airlaid bonded with new non-plastic binders. As far as products, these include spunlace, airlaid, wetlaid and carded using only non-plastic raw materials. Finally, converters are using novel packaging options, including paper, polyhydroxyalkanoate films, as well as plastics reducing options like recyclable packaging, packaging from post-consumer recycled materials as well as re-usable packaging.
All segments of the nonwoven wipes supply chain are responding together towards plastics-free wipes.