While all EDANA working Groups have links to sustainability, two working groups in particular have sustainability at their core. These are the Sustainability working group , working on LCA's (Life cycle analysis), Eco labels and environmental claims, and the Circular economy working group, working on recycled materials and waste initiatives for absorbent hygiene products.
Both working group consisting of EDANA member companies, provide strategic guidance to EDANA on both sustainability and environmental matters as they relate to nonwovens and related products, and on all activities related to waste from single-use absorbent hygiene products.
During our conferences and symposia. EDANA ensures sustainability is systematically integrated and prominent in the programmes. Some practical examples are listed below.
Every three years, EDANA organises INDEX™, the largest global meeting place for the nonwovens supply chain and their customers, during which a selection of excelling companies is presented with an INDEX™ Award. The awards are issued in seven different categories, two of which relate directly to sustainability: Sustainable process or management practice and sustainable product.
EDANA’s Pledge for uptake of rPET
During the event “The EU Plastics Industries – Towards Circularity”, EDANA announced it would join 13 other organisations which present yearly interim reports on voluntary commitments and pledges to adopt more circular business models. On behalf of the nonwovens producers amongst its membership, representing over 85% of the nonwovens production in the EU, EDANA issued a pledge to significantly increase the use of recycled PET (rPET) in nonwovens.
Currently over 200,000 metric tonnes of rPET are used in the production of nonwovens for applications in e.g. roofing products, automotive products or hygiene products. EDANA foresees, on behalf of the nonwovens manufacturers among its members, an uptake to more than 300,000 tonnes of rPET by 2025.
EU Ecolabel for AHP’s (absorbent hygiene products)
EDANA and many of its members (producers and key suppliers throughout the value chain) were actively involved in the stakeholder consultation and subsequent discussions for the development of criteria for this new EU Ecolabel. These criteria are valid until 2022 and will be subject to a revision in 2021. While the EU Ecolabel is voluntary, these criteria have a potentially significant impact as they are often taken as a reference by retailers and public procurers, who tend to favour products that carry the label or demand that products comply with the EU Ecolabel requirements. Several baby diapers proudly carry the EU Ecolabel, demonstrating their environmental progress.
Platform for 20 years of LCA’s
The first EDANA Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) project started in June 1993, with 66 member companies participating. The baby diaper was chosen as reference for the project since it involved most of the EDANA members at the various stages of the value chain. Since then EDANA has been actively involved in various initiatives which are described in the report: “20 years of Life Cycle Assessments”. Meanwhile, EDANA has moved on, conducting many studies ranging from raw material LCA’s to finished product LCA’s: from spunbond nonwovens, to superabsorbent polymers, baby and industrial wipes and screening of gowns and drapes. Together these form a solid database, enabling the industry to assess overall environmental progress and benchmark the performance of their own products and processes. Moreover, EDANA manages several Product Category Rules, which define the development of LCA’s of specific product categories.
LCA Lifetime Achievement Award
EDANA honours the exceptional achievements and efforts of LCA experts with the EDANA LCA Lifetime Achievement Award. EDANA was pleased to recognise the achievements and efforts of Michael Hauschild with the EDANA LCA Lifetime Achievement Award in May 2018. The award was presented at the 28th annual conference of SETAC, the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
The award was granted in recognition of Michael’s 25-year body of work in the field of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). Michael made lasting contributions in the areas of ecotoxicity in LCA, the assessment of the social sustainability dimension in a life cycle perspective and, more recently, the introduction of an absolute sustainability perspective into LCA.
Multi-stakeholder cooperation with OVAM (Public Waste Agency of Flanders)
In Flanders (Belgium), an ambitious waste management plan 2016-2022 has been agreed upon. This plan aims at reducing the residual fraction of household waste. As part of this effort, a collective disposable diaper plan is in development with all actors of the supply chain. This aims, among other things, to deal with; raising awareness, waste management, eco-design and reuse.
In 2017 EDANA, together with COMEOS, Go4Circle, Centexbel and OVAM signed a commitment to work together on a collective plan for disposable diapers. This plan applies for a period of 5 years. The cooperation between all partners in the chain, aimed at closing the disposable diapers materials cycle.
EDANA’s Platform for best practices
Our members have access to a platform where they communicate their efforts on sustainability and share best practices. By sharing, for example, new weight reduction methods or increased performance processes our members actively share useful information. Waste is a global challenge and has become a big focus area for our members in recent years. The participation in this platform facilitated dialogue and increased effective waste management practices. EDANA witnesses continuous efforts to reduce production waste and post-consumer waste through the reduction of weight to the products, while maintaining or increasing their performance. Weight reduction has its limits, however, and EDANA, together with its members, explores other possibilities such as the use of alternative biodegradable raw materials, compostable materials and increased recycling.
EDANA/INDA guidelines for flushability
In May 2018, EDANA launched the INDA/EDANA Guidelines for Assessing the Flushability of Disposable Nonwovens Products. We wish to help our wipe manufacturers in the assessment of their products’ flush capabilities for wastewater streams, ensuring wipes pass agreed standards on flushability and dispersion.
The guidelines are coupled with an industry Code of Practice on labelling, aimed at informing consumers on how to dispose of the products correctly, solving the issue at the source. This initiative pre-empts on proposed EU directives in this area. EDANA plans to uphold these guideline supporting initiatives concerning responsible product stewardship.
EDANA Code of Practice on communication
To help consumers and communities reduce the burden to their wastewater infrastructure, INDA and EDANA are introducing the updated Code of Practice: Communicating Appropriate Disposal Pathways for Nonwovens Wipes to Protect Wastewater Systems, Second Edition, 2017. This is an update to our strict guidelines for the labelling of non-flushable wipes and for assessing the flushability of disposable nonwovens wipes.
EDANA Environmental Claim Guidelines
The EDANA Environmental Claim Guidelines demonstrate our industry’s commitment to apply the highest standards of responsibility and represent good business practice. It recognises the importance of responsible advertising and marketing on products as an essential way of informing customers and consumers about the characteristics and qualities of their products. As such, our member companies commit to ensure environmental claims:
Self-regulation and guideline development
EDANA supports and drives its members’ activities in the area of self-regulation, which includes the development of position papers and test methods, the promotion of dialogue between geographic locations and regulatory bodies, and a focus on the social, economic and environmental sustainability of our industry.
For example, the absorbent hygiene products sector has developed voluntary Exposure Based Risk Assessment guidelines for various hygiene products and a Safety and Regulatory Guidance. Various sector groups have developed common positions on regulatory and safety-relevant topics which are available to EDANA member companies. EDANA has also published a Guide to the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR).
Diaper Cycle Project (2016, The Netherlands)
EDANA participated as a stakeholder in the Diaper Cycle Project. It is part of our larger long-term project with NVRD (royal association for waste- and purification management). More than 50 participants were invited to join this Dutch initiative. The aim was to jointly build a vision and formulate objectives for the entire supply chain of diapers. A brief set of guidelines range from clever product design through better separation and collection. Through this type of initiatives, EDANA shares its expertise for a more sustainable supply chain and simultaneously enriches itself with new visions and practices for its members regarding sustainability.
The Aller River Pilot Project (South Africa)
EDANA meets the expectations of The South African Department of Environmental Affairs through collaboration with Kloof Conservancy (NPO), eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS) and eThekwini Municipality Education Departments of Durban Solid Waste (DSW) in The Aller River Pilot Project. This project aims to protect biodiversity and empower communities to ensure a better future and preserve rivers. The targeted challenges are sewage overflows, litter, chemical pollution and invasive alien plants.
With a sub-project focused on mitigating littering of diapers in informal settlements, Kloof Conservancy was successful in simultaneously tackling the issue through different angles. On the one hand, Kloof Conservancy (NPO) stimulated an effective cooperation between eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS) and officials from Durban Solid Waste (DSW). Wheelie-bins were placed at strategic points at Community Ablution Blocks, where the Caretakers collected and carried the disposable diapers to approved DSW Collection points for onward disposal to landfill. On the other hand, consumers are informed on the environmental impacts of incorrect disposal and on how to correctly dispose of diapers and other consumables. Thanks to this project, more than 3.5 tons of diapers, which would have otherwise most likely been dumped in the local river, were successfully collected and processed. This work deserves to be further supported and implemented in other regions!
FIHA project in India
The Feminine and Infant Hygiene Association of India (FIHA), locally representing converters of sanitary products now runsan awareness campaign to improve the disposal of sanitary waste. FIHA has identified cities across India where an awareness campaign will be piloted to study the impact of segregating sanitary waste from household waste. In order to capture the consumer behaviour, first a baseline survey was conducted whereby numerous households, rag-pickers, garbage collecting organizations and NGOs were questioned and surveyed. FIHA will also facilitate focus group discussions in order to identify existing waste management practices, challenges faced by waste collectors, and identify solutions to challenges faced by the waste collectors. Subsequent to the baseline survey FIHA will undertake the awareness campaign to inculcate the right behaviours for usage and disposal of sanitary products. This will include using various channels ranging from door to door campaigns, posters, market kiosks, advertisements etc. This campaign will also help promote the solution for segregation of sanitary waste i.e. distribution of a large red dot sticker that should be stuck to the used and wrapped up sanitary napkin and diaper. This is crucial for rag pickers to easily identify sanitary waste.
Circular economy in conferences
Circular economy was a prominent topic during EDANA’s OUTLOOKTM 2018 in Dubrovnik (Croatia). The keynote speech by Werner Bosmans, Coordinating the Plastics Strategy within DG Environment of the European Commission, explained in full the EU circular economy strategy, followed by insights from different key industry players.
Moreover, EDANA is a proud silver sponsor of this year’s Dornbirn Global Fiber Congress in Austria. This year’s theme of Recycling and the Circular Economy is of particular interest. The circular economy and its implications – better designs, reduced use of raw materials, development of new technologies, recycling, upcycling, system thinking – are high on the agenda of the nonwovens value chains for producers, converters and suppliers alike.