A novel and highly sustainable feminine pad product

Project background

The raw material of common sanitary pads is mainly cellulose and low-density polyethylene (or other synthetic components). Past experiments to develop biodegradableabsorbent or similar devices (menstrual cups and papercotton based products) for the feminine hygiene sector have not been commercially successful owing to their lack of comfort and the difficulty of producing them to the high quantity required. In fact, these alternative products account for less than 5% of the market, despite the rise in interest in sustainable solutions among consumers. Reducing the environmental impact of products (related to resource consumption, transport and packaging) must not jeopardise their technological performance. Nevertheless, their impact is great: a single disposal absorbent pad takes around 500 years to biodegrade in a landfill site and around 30 million are used in Europe every day. P&G research and development activities, however, haveled to several new patented applications that have the potential to substantially reduce waste and improveenvironmental performance.

Project objectives

The LIFE+ CELSTAB project will demonstrate on an industrial scale the feasibility of upscaling and integrating processes for the production of a new absorbent coreand cellulose component for a specific feminine hygiene product. The process will combine the mentioned patents in a new multilayer arrangement that uses 15-25% less material and reduces emissions by 10-15% tCO2 equivalent per year. The overall target for waste prevention is 15-25%.

Specifically, the project aims to demonstrate that this updated innovative multi-layer material concept and technology can meet consumer product, quality and industrial-scale production process requirements (absorbency, dryness, flexibility, comfort, etc.) whilst improving the cost-benefit ratio.The project aims to prove that the manufacturing and logistics related to the new disposal pads offer environmental benefits as a result of the reduced material use.The overall lifecycle consists of less packaging, greater resource efficiency and reduced transport. Finally, the project aims to showcase the technology in order to influence the European market and policy makers to shift towards a more eco-oriented product development.

Expected results

– Optimised design of a novel combination of air laid and multilayer absorbent product, validated through industrially manufactured prototypes;

– Validated blueprint of upscaled and integrated manufacturing process of novel multilayer absorbent products;

– Life-cycle analysis of the product and manufacturing process;

– Demonstration of the technological and environmental improvements of using a variety of locally sourced pulps in order to improve the mechanical strength of the multilayer structure; and

– Validated use of bio-based components (cellulose from varying fibres properties) within the absorbent materials in the feminine hygiene category.