Interview with Natacha Defeche
Main end-use for nonwovens remains the hygiene market
Since 1971, EDANA, the International association serving the nonwovens and related industries, has provided for its 300+ members, a comprehensive range of services to enhance the industry's goals and performance. The association has a global reach with a focus on Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Natacha Defeche, Marketing & Member Engagement Director of EDANA, speaks about how the nonwovens industry was impacted by the pandemic, the role EDANA is playing to implement EU’s directive on Single-use Plastics, and the main focus areas for the upcoming years.
TT: What is your major outlook for the current year? How much is the nonwoven’s industry set to grow worldwide?
It is too early to say anything about the current year. EDANA is currently drafting the Global Nonwoven Markets Report 2020 -2025, which will be published end of September 2021. This joint publication from EDANA and INDA’s forecasts strong market demand for nonwovens f tor the next five years.
TT: How has Covid-19 disrupted the nonwovens industry? Which nonwovens segments have seen a growth in the last one and half years and which have seen a decline?
The production of nonwovens was impacted by the high demand for materials intensively used to fight the pandemic.
According to figures collected and compiled by the EDANA, the production of nonwovens in Greater Europe grew by 7.2 per cent in 2020 to reach 3,075,615 tonnes (and 85.9 billion square metres) with a total estimated turnover of €9,555 million. The total output of the 27 European Union countries is now over 2.15 million tonnes.
Spunmelt and Drylaid-Hydroentangled nonwovens witnessed two-digit growth rates in both weight and surface area. Thanks to the development in similar applications, the growth in the Wetlaid nonwovens was also substantial last year.
The main end-use for nonwovens remains the hygiene market with a 28 per cent share of deliveries, amounting to 857,940 tonnes, a 9.6 per cent growth in 2020. For obvious reasons, the most significant growth areas for nonwovens in 2020 were observed in medical (+118.0 per cent) and wipes/personal wipes (+22.0 per cent) followed by garments (+32.6 per cent).
In contrast, major declines were noticed in automotive interiors (down 23 per cent), floor coverings, table linen and interlinings.
TT: What will be EDANA’s main focus at Index 2021 with the pandemic in the backdrop?
The main focus is to provide for exhibitors and visitors of INDEX a safe space to meet, exchange and do business.
To facilitate the access for visitors and grant even more visibility and reach to all the exhibitors, INDEX will be a hybrid show. This means that beside the live show, a state-of the art online platform with free access for visitors will allow for interactive meetings, for exhibitors to display their products and services. It will also livestream all the content featured during the show. Therefore, with this combination we expect to have at least the same attendance of 13,000 visitors from over 100 countries engaging with over 700 exhibitors in 50,000 sqm of exhibition space.
TT: What will be key highlights of the Index Innovation Lab that is going to be launched at Index 2021 for the first time?
The INDEX Innovation Lab is a dedicated space within the exhibition, to showcase innovation and R&D, to enable the discovery of the versatility of nonwovens and enhance the understanding of their potential.
This special space is aimed at all visitors, from students to CEOs, and includes many features:
• Exhibits demonstrating the remarkable properties of nonwovens across a range of applications
• Poster presentations on current research in nonwovens
• Seminar dedicated to nonwovens & sustainability
• Seminars on what nonwovens can bring to the medical, automotive, geotextile, technical textiles and filtration sectors
• Displays of the products and services of the nominees of the INDEX20 Innovation Awards
• Nonwovens tutorials
• Testing machines for nonwovens
So definitely worth to visit it!
TT: The EU’s directive on Single-use Plastics is already in force since 2018. What role is EDANA playing in implementation of the same? What changes does it imply for producers and the wider implications for the industry?
The Single-use Plastics was indeed launched in 2018. Certain nonwovens products fall under its scope. EDANA has been committed from the onset to work with the European Commission towards their sustainability goals and the reduction of marine litter. Clear labelling and awareness raising to show the consumer how to properly dispose of single-use products is paramount in this collaboration.
The products in scope are:
• Feminine hygiene products which are defined as sanitary towels (pads) and tampons and tampon applicators
• Wet wipes which are defined as pre-wetted personal care and domestic wipes. Industrial wet wipes are excluded.
EDANA and the industry are working with the Commission to ensure an EU harmonised interpretation of the following requirements:
• Marking requirements for the feminine hygiene products and wet wipes
• Extended Producers responsibility (EPR) for the wet wipes.
TT: What can be the topics of discussion for the upcoming Circular Nonwovens forum?
The Circular Nonwovens forum aims for an in-depth engagement with stakeholders on challenges and opportunities in the pursuit of a circular economy for nonwovens. It was launched in 2020 in line with EDANA’s sustainability vision. It addresses a variety of topics of interest to the different players of the nonwovens industry always around themes like circularity, recycling, biodegradability etc. The hybrid edition taking place on September 30 will feature a total of 10 presentations.
TT: Which region of the world/countries are leading the way in implementing sustainable measures with respect to nonwovens?
Europe has definitely a leading edge both on the legislative side as on the voluntary commitment of the industry to strive to sustainable solutions.
TT: What is your agenda to take the nonwovens industry to the next level by 2025?
The main elements of the EDANA mission that are reflected on the agenda in the coming years is to further sustainable growth of the industry, to work towards free and fair trade and stimulate innovation.