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Nonwovens/​Converting

Partership continues to explore hemp benefits

Crucial role for fibre anticipated in the creation of truly sustainable single-use products.

19th December 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Finland & USA

Medical/Hygiene

For several years, Suominen has been involved in a partnership with Bast Fibre Technologies (BFT), initially involving the development and piloting of hemp nonwoven products on a small scale before transitioning to industrial production.

This has led to Suominen’s Biolace Natura nonwoven wipes substrate which employs hemp mixed with cellulosic fibres, is 100 % plastic free and is in line with the European Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD).

“We are excited to continue our cooperation with Suominen to address the market’s need for alternative fibres and we believe our sero brand hemp can play a crucial role in the creation of truly sustainable single-use products,” says Lars Bo Lauritzen, BFT’s chief commercial officer. ”We already know that hemp fibre performs well in textiles, and now that it has been validated on commercial nonwoven lines for wipes, hygiene and other personal care applications, the future looks bright for this alternative tree-free solution.”

“From a fibre and nonwoven development point of view, the cooperation between Suominen and BFT has been eye-opening,” adds Mari Rahkola, Suominen’s senior manager for business development. “We have conducted several pilot runs and reached production scale making important findings, and we’ve analyzed the results together to improve the final product.”

In its latest newsletter, Suominen observes that plastic-free products are becoming increasingly popular, while claims of climate neutrality are also steadily increasing.

Choices

As a result of policies like the European Green Deal, the nonwoven consumer markets are moving more rapidly towards sustainability and “naturalness” while attempting to maintain performance requirements. The clear fibre choices historically have been rayon, lyocel and wood pulp to help deliver sustainability claims, but with the substantial increase in demand for these fibres, alternate fibre options are also being investigated.   

Hemp is suitable for various end-uses and applications such as household and personal care wipes. Its cultivation contributes to the European Green Deal objectives, including protecting biodiversity and ecosystems while reducing air, water and soil pollution. As an alternative to wood-based cellulosic fibres, hemp is a tree-free and compostable material that can offset deforestation concerns while easily blending with other fibres such as cotton, wood pulp, viscose or lyocell to provide optimal performance characteristics.   

Hemp is a fast-growing plant and a regenerative crop that helps revitalize soil. Compared to cotton, its cultivation uses less water and considerably fewer pesticides. It also provides several properties that are beneficial to consumer markets – wet softness, strength, absorbency and wicking properties. The fibre has a low carbon footprint and is free of harmful chemicals, creating a value equation that is in line with many other sustainable fibre choices.  

www.bastfibretech.com

www.suominencorp.com

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