The management is set to encourage a shift towards plastic-free options, which is why it is crucial to develop products that strike the right balance between sustainability, performance and affordability
Birla Purocel, part of the Aditya Birla Group’s pulp & fibre business, known for its wide range of fibres for nonwoven applications has joined hands with Sparkle, an innovative start-up to produce plastic-free, sanitary pads and diaper products.
In an exclusive interaction, H. K. Agarwal, Managing Director, Grasim Industries Limited, said: “Due to growing concerns about the use of single-use plastics in sanitary pads and diaper products, we initiated research to find sustainable alternatives. As a result, we successfully created a top sheet made from viscose that meets consumers’ expectations for absorbency, softness and overall comfort during use.”
“During our search for potential partners, we discovered that Sparkle, an innovative start-up, shares our commitment to sustainability and developing eco-friendly products. Therefore, we decided that collaborating with Sparkle was a natural choice for both companies.” Elaborating on the sanitary pad that will be created and how different it will be to others in the market and its capability to be a game-changer, Agarwal said: “Currently, there are few plastic-free period care and diaper products available in the market but they come at a significantly higher price and may not meet users’ performance expectations.”
“To encourage a shift towards plastic-free options, it’s crucial to develop products that strike the right balance between sustainability, performance and affordability. Such products would have a significant impact and could encourage other brands to reconsider their approach to plastic-free single-use period care and diaper products,” he added. Explaining the kind of impact this product innovation could have on the nonwoven hygiene market, Agarwal stated: “Birla Purocel has crafted a range of top sheet solutions to fit various product designs utilised by brands.”
“Each option underwent thorough evaluation at Ginni Nonwovens’ commercial spun lace line and was tested in our specialised lab with replicable outcomes. This will help speed up the shift towards plastic free products,” he added. There is also a drive towards reusable rather than recyclable or biodegradable products. Pointing out the company’s approach to this trend, Agarwal said: “We are also focusing on developing solutions for reusable products, using a similar approach to achieve the right balance between performance and affordability, to facilitate a mass shift towards sustainable options. We will share more details at the appropriate time.”
Highlighting the importance of this collaboration in the present day difficult economic and environmental landscape, Agarwal observed: “As consumer expectations and regulatory requirements continue to evolve rapidly, collaborative product innovation has become essential. In order to keep up with these changes, we have adopted a collaborative approach for our innovations, which allows us to speed up the development and scaling process. It is important to be in tune with the challenges posed by environmental degradation of the planet and work on how we can contribute to bringing about an improvement in such a situation.”
Speaking about the current challenges in the market and the steps taken by the company to overcome them, H. K. Agarwal said: “The EU’s single-use plastics directive of 2021, which includes wet wipes and period care products, has placed pressure on the nonwoven industry to swiftly create alternative solutions. To meet this demand, we have been collaborating with technology suppliers and other stakeholders in the value chain to develop, test and implement new product solutions.”
When asked about the steps to be taken to ensure that companies become more transparent in their supply chains and sustainability initiatives and the benefits of such initiatives for the nonwovens market, H K Agarwal opined that voluntary commitment towards sustainability and transparency within the supply chain are the two key pillars. “We have been working closely with independent agencies like Canopy, ZDHC and Higgs to transparently share our status and commitments with the value chain and all the stakeholders,” he added.
Presence at INDEX 2023
The company is all set to participate in INDEX 2023, the premier nonwovens’ exhibition. Going into details on the current trends in the nonwovens market and the changes that have taken place since INDEX 2021, H K Agarwal shared, “Over the past two years the pace of the shift towards plastic-free alternatives has significantly increased. This change is now visible on the ground with numerous plastic-free product options available in the market. We believe that this trend will continue to accelerate in the coming years.”
Concluding the interaction with the products that the company will be showcasing at INDEX 2023, Agarwal said, “We are showcasing our work on the sustainability front and will highlight innovations such as short cut fibres for flushable wipes, filters and battery separators as well as specialised fibres for absorbent hygiene segment and sustainability enhanced fibres for wipes. All our products are certified biodegradable and compostable with highest order of sustainability rating from agencies like Canopy.”