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Environmental news and technical  innovation in the nonwovens sector

Not one, but two biobased polymers in a sheath-core, bicomponent configuration make up a new high performance nonwoven developed by Fitesa, Braskem and NatureWorks.

The sheath is made of Braskem’s I’m green 100% biobased polyethylene while the core uses NatureWorks’ 100% biobased Ingeo PLA.

The resulting nonwoven is extremely soft, thanks to the bio-PE outer sheath, yet remains strong and robust due to the Ingeo core.

Fitesa will offer the fabric in a comprehensive range of basis weights with physical properties designed to allow drop-in replacement in existing bicomponent spunbond applications.

“The fabric softness is exceptional and counters the misperception some have in the market that there must be some compromise in performance to achieve a 100% renewably sourced product,” says Fitesa marketing, strategy, and business development director Ray Dunleavy.

The three companies collaborated to develop a product that highlights and supports Fitesa’s commitment to performance and sustainability by replacing traditional petrochemical based materials with renewable products made from plants.

The production of both the Braskem and NatureWorks polymers provide significant carbon footprint reductions by removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Each ton of Braskem I’m green plastic produced sequestrates more than two tons of CO2 – a significant gain compared to traditional plastic. Additionally, Braskem’s Code of Conduct for Ethanol Suppliers has been established to ensure responsible sourcing.  Braskem has been making the I’m greenT polyethylene since 2010 at its Triunfo Petrochemical Complex, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in the south region of Brazil. The plant’s capacity is 200,000 tons a year and the total investment amounts to US$290 million.

Each ton of Ingeo produced provides 60% reduction in CO2 emitted compared to traditional polyester, and a 30-40% reduction in CO2 emitted compared to traditional polyolefins.  NatureWorks has been producing Ingeo at its flagship Nebraska US facility since 2002, and recently expanded capacity there to 150,000 annual tons.  The company has just announced that front-end engineering design has commenced for a second Ingeo facility in Southeast Asia.   

In 2012, NatureWorks achieved third party certification from both the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) Association and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a U.S. based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), ensuring responsible materials sourcing and sustainable agricultural practices.  

Fitesa is a leader in the design and manufacture of nonwoven fabric solutions for the global hygiene market. Enjoying global reach from its manufacturing sites in North and South America, Europe and Asia, Fitesa employs a wide range of nonwoven production technologies to meet customer requirements for service, quality, and flexibility.

Braskem is the largest producer of thermoplastic resins in the Americas. With 36 industrial plants in Brazil, the United States and Germany, the company produces over 35 billion pounds of thermoplastic resins and other petrochemicals per year. Braskem is the world’s leading biopolymers producer with its 440 million pound green polyethylene plant that produces polyethylene from sugarcane-based ethanol.

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