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Biodegradability in water – another Bemliese benefit

Unique fibres made from cotton linters have many properties suited to the 21st century needs of disposable product manufacturers.

13th July 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Austria


Certification body TÜV Austria has certified Bemliese, Asahi Kasei’s sustainable nonwoven fabric, as ‘OK Biodegradable Marine’.

Made of cotton linter – the tiny hair-like fibres on cotton seeds – the material can be used for a diverse array of disposable goods and applications, ranging from cosmetic facial masks, hygienic applications and medical sterilization, to cleaning equipment for high-precision machinery and laboratories.

Asahi Kasei is the only company in the world that has developed a clean proprietary process for treating cotton linter to produce sheets that can be integrated into a diverse array of product designs.

Linter was originally a pre-consumer waste bi-product of the traditional cotton harvesting process, and has now been converted to roughly 3% of the total yield.

TÜV Austria has now recognised the material’s biodegradability in water and the material already has its certifications for industrial compost, home compost and soil biodegradability from the organisation.


In addition to its sustainable credentials, Bemliese has unique material properties. When dry, it leaves virtually no lint, scratches or chemicals on the surfaces it touches, making it an ideal material for cleaning equipment in industrial, laboratory, or medical environments that must remain contamination-free. Its high purity keeps the material free from excess oils or chemicals that may be inherent in similar materials and it also has a higher rate of absorbency than cotton gauze, rayon/PET, or nonwoven cotton.

And unlike cotton, a sheet of Bemliese becomes extraordinarily soft after moistening and drapes well over any surface it touches with little to no abrasion. Its absorption of moisture and ability to hold onto tiny particles makes it an ideal material for hygienic applications or medical sterilization. When soaked, it can grip the surface of an object tightly and hold the material in place while it dries. The reclaimed cellulose filament structure created by using cotton linter as a material provides a much higher level of liquid retention than regular cotton.

© Asahi Kasei

Cosmetic facial masks made from Bemliese have made waves in sustainable beauty throughout Asia, attracting world-class cosmetics developers like L’Oréal and Kosé Group with their unrivaled absorbency and performance. Face sheets made from cotton linter absorb and hold formulas that rejuvenate skin far more efficiently and stick to every contour of the face from the moment it touches the skin and stays in place. This allows for the even application of formula to the skin, yielding superior results. In addition, unlike traditional face sheets that commonly contain plastics, those made from cotton linter have a 100% natural source, clean production, and fast biodegradability within four weeks that has resonated in the industry where consumers have begun abandoning their usual products in favor of those that are more environmentally friendly.


After its success in Asia, Asahi Kasei is currently launching Bemliese in North America via its trading arm in the USA, Asahi Kasei Advance America. As a future step, the company is also planning to establish contacts on the European market. With tightening regulations and also driven by changing consumer demands, the European industry’s shift towards lowering the CO2 footprint throughout the value chain is accelerating at a fast pace, increasing the needs towards sustainable materials. 

“The OK biodegradable Marine certificate will help to increase the awareness of the eco-friendly aspects of materials made of regenerated cellulose, especially in regard to the marine microplastics issue,” said Koichi Yamashita, head of sales at Bemliese “In addition, the EU recently banned single-use plastics. This opens up new opportunities for cellulose-based fibre materials, which are not part of this ban.”

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