EDANA Sustainability Forum Brings to a Successful Close a Year of Sustainability Achievements for EDANA
21 December 2023
Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do today, from consumer purchasing choices to policy making, which is why, last month EDANA organized the first edition of the EDANA Sustainability Forum. Established in Brussels, Belgium, this new event gathered over 150 nonwovens professionals to address issues from the future of value chain transparency to bioeconomy innovations.

Being held in the heart of the European Union (EU), offered participants the unique opportunity to meet with EU officials. The three-day event included presentations from European Commission staff and culminated with a tour of the European Parliament. 

This new conference evolved out of EDANA’s popular Circular Nonwovens Forum. The nonwovens industry has long been associated with progress, with providing society with versatile materials that touch nearly every aspect of our lives, from healthcare to hygiene and automotive to agriculture. The development of our products, however, comes also with a critical responsibility for people, the planet, and prosperity. To achieve a truly sustainable nonwovens industry, we need to be responsible for the footprint that our innovations leave behind on our planet and this goes beyond circularity.

At EDANA we believe that bringing the nonwovens industry together at events is critical for our industry and can help to foster partnerships for progress, while still respecting confidential business information. This is why this year we revamped our events offering to introduce new conferences including the EDANA Sustainability and Innovation Forums to discuss these issues and more. But this is just the beginning. Through responsible consumption and production, we can also help to meet other aspects of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, like climate change and biodiversity.

This led to EDANA reviewing and updating its sustainability vision, unveiling the new vision at the start of the forum. “Our previous sustainability vision was developed in 2018, and in this constantly evolving space no longer reflected the improvements and investments that the nonwovens industry has made regarding environmental and societal aspects,” said Gil Stevens, EDANA’s External Relations & Sustainability Director. 


Available on the EDANA website, the revised vision is split into three pillars addressing climate action, circular solutions, and a sustainable value chain. These are all topics that were very much a part of the Forum programme and discussions at The Solvay Library, the prestigious venue where the Forum was held in November.

Split into six sessions, the programme covered the crucial role that nonwovens play in society today, a lively panel discussion on how plastics can fit into a sustainable future, presentations on how to move towards a renewable economy, and more. EDANA is well placed to foster exchanges between the nonwovens industry and key stakeholders from European policymakers to NGOs and this was reflected in the selection of 35 speakers, presentations, and panel discussions, including keynote speakers from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Commission’s Environment Directorate General.

The session on end of life management of AHPs (Absorbent Hygiene Products), also presented an opportunity to share the results from EDANA’s AHP Waste to Resource Initiative. When it comes to AHPs consumers continue to favour single-use products over reusable ones, making research on recycling single-use AHPs relevant. EDANA engaged the consultancy Ramboll to carry out a study – based on literature reviews and expert interviews – mapping existing technologies for collecting and recycling AHP waste. Felicitas Frick, Ramboll’s Senior Consultant Circular Economy and Resource Management who worked on the study, attended the forum to share the results with the attendees. 

The report concluded that collecting and recycling AHP waste is very complex, and that no current initiative/technology offers a perfect technically and economically successful solution. This result proves that further investigation and research into AHPs and how to recycle them is needed and that industry engagement is crucial. The full report is available online.  

Sustainability was also reflected in every element of the Forum’s organization, with EDANA’s events team trialling new initiatives to reduce the Forum’s environmental impact: 

  • Paperless event: the programme was made available online only, and participants were encouraged to visit the EDANA website and dedicated event app on Swapcard.
  • Meat-free: the food during the coffee breaks and lunches was vegetarian and locally sourced. 
  • Virtual offering to reduce your carbon footprint: the Forum was recorded and the recordings are available for purchase online until 31 March 2024, with discounted rates for EDANA members. 

The overall feedback from the participants was extremely positive: “today was really insightful and achieved great insights in the challenges and the possibilities we face when we talk about sustainability within the absorbent hygiene product industry. We have a long way to go of course, because it’s one of the more challenging areas for plastic use, but I gained a lot of insights into how we should move forward and start collaborating. That’s one of the key points I take from today because we cannot do this alone, [sustainability] is an industry initiative,” said Lasse Taidal R&D Project Manager at Fibertex Personal Care.

Comments from other participants included Jake Jennings, Materials Science Lead at Gama Healthcare who shared: “Fantastic event! It’s all about promoting sustainability and talking about sustainability which is the future of all the businesses involved in EDANA. The group discussions have been excellent.” 

For Jörg Schöner, Senior Manager Global Business Creation Textile Fibers at Kemira, “the sustainability topic is so important that it’s very good that EDANA is bringing us together and discussing it across the whole value chain.”

“I think the best part is the networking, between the different types of participants and different angles to the same sustainability topics,” noted Johanna Lindholm Järvinen, Circular Sales Manager at Rester Oy.

“This is an excellent opportunity to be able to see an overview of what’s going on in sustainability, especially when we have these discussions about plastics, their future, and which direction we are going to take as an industry. Very fascinating. I was also able to meet customers, stakeholders, and old colleagues. It’s a great event, I like it a lot,” concluded EDANA Board member Tommi Bjornman, President & CEO of Suominen. 

Looking forward, 2024 will hold many exciting challenges for EDANA and our members as we begin to implement the new vision. The planning has already begun for the second edition of the EDANA Sustainability Forum, due to take place at the end of 2024, again in Brussels, Belgium. For those who can’t wait that long, we are organizing the first EDANA Innovation Forum in June in Munich, Germany. The two topics are closely entwined, and sustainability is expected to feature on the agenda. 

Finally, EDANA has also launched a new learning offer adding sustainability to our portfolio of training courses. The first course, Sustainability Basics for Nonwovens Professionals is already available, with additional courses on due diligence and CO2 emissions coming soon. 

Watch this space for more sustainability announcements as EDANA promises to lead the sustainability dialogue for the nonwovens industry, guiding and supporting our members to integrate sustainability into their activities for a positive societal impact.

For any questions please contact
Gloria Jaconelli