Adhesives as enabler of sustainable design

Bio-based materials in sustainable hygiene products

Sustainability has a greater focus over the past few years. Whether in politics, lifestyle or purchasing decisions -  sustainability is playing an increasing role for consumers:

  • 89% of consumers care personally about protecting the planet*
  • 64% of consumers feel they can make a difference in the world with their choices*
  • 83% of consumers would always pick the brand which had a better record of sustainability*

Consumers wish to actively contribute to a more sustainable future through their actions, which is why they are increasingly interested in the origin of products, the production process and the materials used to produce the products they use on a daily basis. This trend is also often reflected in the purchase decisions of baby diapersfemcare or incontinence products. What does this mean for manufacturers of personal hygiene products?

By improving the product design and selecting sustainable materials, manufacturers can make a difference - for the environment and for their customers.  

*Source: J. Walter Thompson Intelligence: The New Sustainability: Regeneration 2018 

Endless Material Possibilities for Sustainable Hygiene Products

There are theoretically endless possibilities for the use of sustainable materials. The most important materials in this context are bio-based materials, recycled materials and biodegradable materials.

Bio-based materials
Bio-based materials are all materials made from raw materials derived from biological or renewable resources, such as cotton, bamboo, cellulose, PLA, but also bio-PE and bio-PET.

Recycled materials
Recycled materials include all materials that are made from raw materials that have had at least one previous purpose - i.e. have already been recycled once. Recycling can be either mechanical or chemical. Chemical recycling, however, is preferred by the hygiene industry because of the high standards involved.

Bio-degradable materials
Bio-degradable materials and bio-based materials are not necessarily the same because not all bio-based materials are also bio-degradable. All combinations of bio-based / fossil and bio-degradable / non-bio-degradable exist, which makes the possibilities and uses in the personal hygiene industry so diverse.

Personal hygiene adhesives: A minor detail makes the difference

Personal hygiene products, like a baby diaper, consist of a variety of different substrates and materials. Fluff, SAP and Plastic make up a total of around 95%, adhesives only 5%.

Even so adhesives are just a minor part of a diaper or other hygiene product, they are crucial to the overall construction and design of a sustainable hygiene product. This is because adhesives make the properties of all other materials function together. The more diverse substrates are used, the more complex are the demands on the bonding mechanism to keep the different types of materials together. It is clear sustainable substrates and materials must deliver on the primarily tasks – ensuring security, softness, absorption and comfort. Adhesives are in that respect the hidden champions, making it all possible!

Sustainable materials overview in personal hygiene products

There are a variety of sustainable materials that can be used for a more sustainable hygiene product.

One big topic is to incorporate bio-based derived materials in the substrates for hygiene products:

  • Cotton
  • Viscose / Bamboo
  • Tissue / Cellulose

Bio-based plastic also offers many benefits. In most cases, bio-based plastic has the same attributes as fossil-based plastic, but with a significantly better eco-balance.

Finally, also bio-based adhesives are an option to increase the usage of sustainable materials in the end products. Natural raw materials such as rosin esters and terpenes have been around for a long time in hot melt adhesives, however with limitations in odor and color.

Now this field has been expanded with a newly developed range: TECHNOMELT DM ECO, bio-based adhesives with around 70% bio-based content. These adhesives combine bio-based content with maximum performance and clear improvement in purity – one step ahead for more sustainability.

If you want to learn more about sustainable materials or are looking for support for your personal hygiene production, please get in contact with us!

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