Personal Hygiene wipes
We bring our considerable knowledge of biopolymer chemistry coupled with modifiers and additives to manufacture an all-PLA flushable and dispersible wet baby wipe. We have started to conduct preliminary investigations on our manufacturing line and believe we can address this market game-changing opportunity.
The product would be targeted for the mass consumer market of flushable non-woven wipes which is driven by convenience, performance, hygiene, cost and consumer eco-perception. The selection of non-woven substrates for flushable wipes is driven by current and potential regulations as well as the supply/price of petroleum based raw materials.
Today, there has been serious negative attention paid to flushable wipes from consumers with clogged plumbing, to municipal and even governmental agencies complaining of costs and problems in their waste disposal systems. For a product to be flushable it must: a) clear toilets and properly maintained drainage pipe systems under expected product use conditions; b) be compatible with existing wastewater conveyance, treatment, reuse and disposable systems; and c) become unrecognizable in a reasonable period of time and be safe in the natural receiving environments.
Our proposed approach is to use our PLA technology and product platform for non-woven fabric to address this need. PLA is considered the highest level “green” and sustainable polymer in the commercial market. PLA has excellent physical and mechanical properties making it an exceptional candidate for substitution for current petroleum based thermoplastics. The property profile of PLA is in certain aspects similar to synthetic thermoplastics (mechanical strength, elastic recovery, heat sealability). It shares other properties with bio-based polymers (sustainability, dyeability, barrier characteristics) while a number of its properties are more typical of non-polymeric materials (e.g. deadfold/twist retention similar to foil or paper). For this reason, PLA is sometimes described as a new paradigm in the bulk application polymer field. With our current existing manufacturing line (non-woven meltblown production, coaters, slitters, rewinders, and analytical lab facilities) we are in a position to provide the solution to the marketplace.
The joint Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry/European Disposables and Nonwovens Association (INDA/EDANA) task force in the Guidance Document for Assessing the Flushability of Nonwoven Consumer Products (Second Edition) has determined a comprehensive series of tests and our goal is to pass these test benchmarks by demonstrating: a) the product is completely biodegradable, b) breaks apart in the waste water stream to the needs of the treatment infrastructure (from home plumbing to the septic system or sewer main line) and, c) satisfies the consumer demand for a soft and eco-friendly product.
As with break-through products there are risks. The PLA based product has to be incredibly soft, pliable, and cost-effective. In order to risk-mitigate those parameters we will employ our vast knowledge-base of polymer additives, modifier and process aids together with post-manufacturing methods to render the non-woven soft and drapable. In addition, to hit cost metrics we have to demonstrate our process has high-throughput and is repeatable and reproducible. For both challenges we are employing a detailed and thorough design of experiments. We aim to announce the results of our activities in the late 2015 timeframe.