The European Commission launched the Single-Use Plastics Directive in 2018. The directive, which originates from the Commission’s Plastic Strategy, focuses on reducing marine litter. Certain nonwovens products, namely feminine hygiene products and wet wipes, have been included under the Single-Use Plastics Directive. EDANA and the nonwovens industry as a whole are collaborating as much as possible with the European Commission to achieve their sustainability goals and to ensure a harmonised interpretation of the measures.
The Single-Use Plastics Directive concretises the ambitions on the reduction of marine litter. Based on a list of the 10 most common plastic objects found on beaches (which together constitute 70% of all marine litter items), and fishing gear containing plastic, the Commission has written a proposal with a range of policy measures; from bans and reduction targets, to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes, whereby producers contribute to clean up costs and consumer awareness campaigns.
Measures include :
Certain nonwovens products fall under the scope of the Single-Use Plastics Directive. EDANA is committed to working 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:
EDANA and the industry are working with the Commission to ensure a EU harmonised interpretation of the following requirements:
Marking requirements for the feminine hygiene products and wet wipes
On their packaging or on the product itself should according to a defined format appear:
EPR (Extended Producers responsibility) for the wet wipes
Costs to be covered:
Member States will have to translate this into :
Awareness raising measures for the feminine hygiene products and wet wipes
Aim: “measures to inform consumers and to incentive responsible consumer behaviour, in order to achieve a reduction in the littering of products”
Inform consumers about:
The proposed Directive on the Reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment proposes the following definition of plastic: “'plastic' means a material consisting of a polymer within the meaning of Article 3(5) of Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006, to which additives or other substances may have been added, and which can function as a main structural component of final products, with the exception of natural polymers that have not been chemically modified.” Article 3(40) of Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the council of 18 December 2006 states: “Not chemically modified substance: means a substance whose chemical structure remains unchanged, even if it has undergone a chemical process or treatment, or a physical mineralogical transformation, for instance to remove impurities”.
Regenerated cellulose fibres have the same molecular structure as cellulose and are not chemically modified
All plants contain cellulose as a major structural polymer. Especially in wood, cellulose is the main constituent together with lignin. Cellulose fibres can also be produced by an industrial process, by extraction of the cellulose from plant material, dissolution and regeneration. The most important raw material used is wood, therefore these fibre types are also summarized as wood-based fibres. They are termed viscose, modal, and lyocell according the generic fibre names by BISFA (BISFA, 2018). The cellulose in natural fibres (cotton and bast fibres) and regenerated cellulose fibres (viscose, lyocell…) is the same natural polymer and completely identical. The production process starts from the renewable raw material wood. In the first step, pulp is produced in a process very similar to paper pulp making. Following, this pulp is dissolved either by a non-isolated intermediate (viscose) or by direct physical dissolution (lyocell). Viscose and lyocell fibres are pure cellulose without any chemical modification. Viscose and lyocell have the same molecular structure as the natural cellulose. It is known that cellulose in both natural and regenerated cellulose fibres is biodegradable by the same enzyme systems of microorganisms (Bechtold and Schimper, 2010).
For more information on biodegradability of regenerated cellulose / viscose
The nonwovens industry has launched many initiatives to support the EU’s plastics strategy, including: