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Biotransformation, hemp and cat litter...

Recognising novel innovations within and on the periphery of the nonwovens industry.

25th August 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Cary, NC, USA

Medical/Hygiene, Sustainable

A company turning waste diapers into cat litter is one of the three strong finalists for the 2022 RISE Innovation Award, with the winner to be announced at the 12th edition of INDA’s research, innovation and science for engineered fabrics conference taking place at North Carolina State University from September 27-28.

The award recognises novel innovations within and on the periphery of the nonwovens industry that creatively use next-level science and engineering principles to solve material challenges and expand the use of nonwovens and engineered fabrics.

DiaperRecycle is a startup based in Melbourne, Australia, which has developed a process for recycling both baby and adult diapers, preparing the plastic for plastic recyclers and turning the superabsorbent fibre, which is highly absorbent and flushable, into cat litter. The cat litter is also compostable, using industrial composters and the company’s proprietary recycling process is said to be carbon neutral. The company aims to build several recycling plants in Australia and to also make its technology available internationally.

Trigger reactions

Leading spunmelt nonwovens manufacturer Avgol will compete for the award for its work with German plastics company Gottlieb Binder on the development of sustainable diaper components using the new ‘biotransformation’ technology.

Polymateria, a spin-out from Imperial College London, pioneered the biotransformation process which has the potential to enable the most commonly-polluted plastic items to be safely returned to nature. Using the new process, a nonwoven fabric can be modified to react to certain triggers to then begin a cascade process to enable the fundamental chemical transformation of its polymer resins into a wax that is readily degraded by natural bacteria, microbes and fungi normally found in the environment.

“The transformation is triggered through the combined effects of the natural elements of decay – air, moisture, heat and sunlight,” explained Avgol’s vice-president of nonwovens marketing Nick Carter, demonstrating the process at the recent Techtextil show in Frankfurt. “Once triggered, the material will transform into a low molecular weight wax structure leaving no microplastics or toxic residue behind. In addition, if the product comprising the biotransformation technology is disposed of in the normal way, and facilities are available, it can then be recycled by readily available means.”


The third finalist for the RISE Innovation Award is Bast Fibre Technologies for its sero hemp fibres which offer the nonwoven industry an all-natural substitute for plastic fibres from dedicated production facilities in both Europe and the USA.

BFT transforms raw bast fibres into premium natural fibres for applications ranging from single-use and durable wipes to industrial applications. The sero hemp combines easily with standard nonwoven fibres to produce fabrics that meet the industry requirements for strength, uniformity and processing efficiency.

RISE conference attendees will electronically vote for the award winner and the result will be announced on September 28th at the conference.

“The RISE Conference recognises and promotes innovation across the nonwovens and engineered materials industries,” said INDA’s president Tony Fragnito. “Technology leaders will share invaluable information on new approaches and concepts to resolve material science challenges. For any technical leader, technology scout or new product innovator, RISE is an event not to be missed.”

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