Climate change is one of the most significant challenges we are facing today. Next to the societal challenge for mitigating climate change, induced by the exploding energy demand and the increasing global consumption, raw materials prices for nonwovens industry products may fluctuate in future and increase more than ever before. The importance and urgency for low carbon production and the efficient use of resources is thus seen as a top priority and opportunity by the majority of our members.
Ambition: Efficient resource use for low carbon production and products
Life-cycle perspective driving sustainable
Energy efficient production
Production waste minimisation
EDANA and its members have been pioneers in life cycle assessments since 1992. We strive to continuously improve the environmental performances by analysing the environmental impacts associated with a product system from the acquisition of raw material through production, transport, use, end-of-life treatment, recycling and disposal. Assessing these impacts for a product’s entire life cycle is crucial to improve the eco-efficiency profile of our products.
The ‘lifecycle thinking’ stimulates our members in reviewing and developing new industrial processes, materials or concepts and to effectively (re)design their products for a lesser impact on the environment. The results of our consistent efforts are clearly reflected in the chart below. Product development has become the leading field in which sustainability considerations are a key part of decision-making. This is the case for 90% of EDANA members.
In addition, EDANA encourages its members to equally pay attention to the health and safety features of their products. These commonly used and widespread products should in every way enhance the life quality, comfort, health and hygiene of their users. This is one of the reasons why our members are strongly engaged in consistently improving product safety.
By making life cycle assessment (LCA) part of the development of sustainable new products, our members aim at reducing the potential environmental burden and impacts caused by their products.
The sector endeavours to improve its energy efficiency and lower its environmental footprint by continuously assessing its production methods and resource use. Our members’ approach for the optimization of energy consumption comprises a wide angle of affordable and less affordable measures in both processes and utilities to reduce their energy use. Energy efficiency has multiple motivators as the environmental perspectives are often combined with financial perspectives. As such, 63% of our members have targets to reduce their energy intensity with an average of 2% reduction per year.
Our members aspire to continuously decrease energy consumption of products and materials through an efficient in-process energy use.
EDANA’s ambition for a low-carbon production automatically sets the tone concerning the consumption of renewable energy. The sector is engaged in reducing its energy footprint by switching to renewables such as wind, solar or hydro. 70% of nonwovens industry companies purchase renewable energy to complement their global needs. The average proportion of renewable electricity consumed by our members is 31%. There is a significant difference between different actors in the supply chain, as seen in the chart below. The largest proportion of the overall energy consumption lies upstream, due to energy intensive processes of raw material producers and converters. Our industry’s biggest consumers use the largest proportion of renewable electricity.
These activities also help reducing carbon emissions and contribute to the emission targets set by our members. 58% sets yearly targets to reduce their carbon footprint with an average yearly reduction target of 3.3%
Our members are engaged in shifting towards the consumption of renewable energy for their production and resource use.
There is a continuous effort across all product categories to find sustainable solutions for eco-efficient resource use. By simplified processes using new innovative materials and in closed-loop systems, our members can reduce raw material use and fully utilize the needed resources.
The development of new, more sustainable materials combined with more efficient resource use reduces the environmental impact significantly. This includes the use of bioplastics and other renewable materials (eg. cellulose-based fibres) in hygiene products.
Another example comes from our geotextiles industry. Innovations lead to the replacement of gravel used in road construction, allowing our members to drastically reduce the weight and amount of materials used while delivering increased performances.
EDANA encourages members to optimize their resources through increased efficiency and different usage for better products while reducing environmental impacts.
The optimal use of resources and raw materials during processing often results in less waste and more reuse or recycling. Many companies also develop and promote production processes that use less raw materials. The raw material efficiency (fibres, polymers and binders) was 92% in 2017, which has been a stable performance over the last decade.
The sector also makes continuous efforts to improve its production efficiency. By improving or changing their processes our members are able to reduce or even eliminate by-products, edge trims or off-cuts. This makes a great difference in waste production. Moreover, our members continuously seek to reuse and recycle by-products or convert them back into useful energy when recycling is not possible. EDANA members seek to divert their manufacturing and post-consumer waste solutions from landfill and waste valorisation by incineration to higher value beneficial uses like recycling and upcycling. Also, in recent years, we have seen a positive trend in waste reduction by our members.
Through efficient resource use, the amelioration of production processes and the valorisation of residual by-products, our members are reducing their production waste to a minimum.