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News article

24/09/2010

EDANA Coordinates Independent LCA on Baby Wipes

EDANA, the association representing the nonwovens and related industries, has announced the completion of a Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) comparing baby wipes, washcloth and cotton balls, which shows that a single-use product does not necessarily have a worse impact on the environment than a reusable product.
Study shows no clear environmental winner between baby wipes and washcloths

Budapest, 24 September, 2010 -- EDANA, the association representing the nonwovens and related industries, has announced the completion of a Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) comparing baby wipes, washcloth and cotton balls, which shows that a single-use product does not necessarily have a worse impact on the environment than a reusable product.

The study, commissioned by the main producers of baby wipes, shows a different environmental impact of baby wipes versus other cleaning methods, with no superiority on wash cloths and favourable results on the majority of indicators for the use of wipes vs. cotton balls.

The independent German environmental consultancy IFEU conducted the study according to ISO methodology, and compared the various alternatives to effectively clean babies when changing diapers. The life cycle assessment considered all environmental impacts throughout the life of each product across the European Union, from raw materials production to waste management. In line with ISO requirements, the study was peer reviewed by Dr. Lars Gunnar Lindfors, LCA expert, and Dr. Florian Girmond from the Hohenstein textile institute.

The study concluded that cotton balls have the highest impact of the three options, due to the significant impact of cotton ball production and the use of warm water in the cleaning process. The study is inconclusive for the comparison between baby wipes and washcloths, with different environmental impacts driven by the amount and temperature of the water used with the washcloth, and how efficient the washing of the cloth is. Contrary to some popular opinions, the study shows that a single-use product does not generally have a worse impact on the environment than a reusable product.

Depending on the impact area considered, the impact of washcloths was either higher or lower than the impact of baby wipes. Observed at different stages of the life cycle, the environmental impact of baby wipes comes largely from the use of raw materials and the need to manage the waste at the end of the cycle. The results for washcloths however, depends almost entirely on how they are used: washcloths could have a lower impact than baby wipes if the quantity of warm water were reduced and the washing process optimised through better than average detergents and washing machines, not using electrical dryers and washing in full loads.

A complementary study on use of washcloths showed that these users tend to use high amounts of warm water when cleaning the baby (an average of two litres per cleaning). To illustrate this, the study calculates that the water consumed to produce all baby wipes annually used in the EU is equivalent to the annual water consumption of 44,000 people. Replacing all baby wipes with washcloths would mean consuming 7.5 times more water, the equivalent of the annual water consumption of 328,000 people.

The following companies commissioned the study: Euro Wipes, Georgia-Pacific, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Lenzing, Nice-Pak International, Procter & Gamble, SCA Hygiene Products and Suominen Codi Wipes.

The executive summary of the report will be made available on request to EDANA.

*The results of this study mainly conducted in the UK and Germany only concern cotton balls and do not apply to other cotton products.

About EDANA

EDANA serves the nonwovens and related industries, and has more than 220 member companies in over 30 countries. Its Mission is to create the foundation for sustainable growth of the nonwovens, absorbent hygiene products and related industries through active promotion, education and dialogue. Information about upcoming events can be found at www.edana.org

For further information please contact:
Abby Bailey, Marketing and Communications Director
Telephone: +32 2 734 93 10
Fax: +32 2 733 35 18
E-mail: abby.bailey@edana.org
Website: www.edana.org
EDANA | Avenue Herrmann Debroux 46-B-1160 Brussels, Belgium | Tel: +32 2 734 93 10