Wipes and personal hygiene to drive rapid spunlace growth


Wipes and personal hygiene to drive rapid spunlace growth

LEATHERHEAD - Led by burgeoning demand for more sustainable materials in baby, personal care, and other consumer wipes, the global consumption of spunlace nonwovens will rise from 1.85 million tonnes in 2023 to 2.79 million in 2028.

These latest market predictions can be found in the latest Smithers market report – The Future of Spunlace Nonwovens to 2028 – which also outlines how disinfecting wipes, spunlace gowns and drapes for medical applications were all vital in battling the recent Covid-19. Consumption surged by almost 0.5 million tonnes across the course of the pandemic, the report says, with a corresponding increase in value from US$7.70 billion (2019) to $10.35 billion (2023) at constant pricing.

Across this period spunlace production and converting were designated as essential industries by many governments. Both production and converting lines operated at full capacity in 2020-21, and multiple new assets were brought online rapidly.

According to the report, the market is now experiencing readjustment with corrections in some products like disinfecting wipes, already underway. In several markets large inventories have been created due to disruption to transport and logistics. At the same time spunlace producers are reacting to the economic effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has led to increases in material and production costs, while simultaneously damaging consumer purchasing power in several regions.

Overall, the demand for spunlace market remains very positive, however, with Smithers forecasting that value in the market will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.1% to reach $16.73 billion in 2028.

With the spunlace process especially suited to producing lightweight substrates – 20-100 gsm basis weights – disposable wipes are the leading end use. In 2023 these will account for 64.8% of all spunlace consumption by weight, followed by coating substrates (8.2%), other disposables (6.1%), hygiene (5.4%), and medical (5.0%).

“With sustainability central to the post-Covid strategies of both home and personal care brands, spunlace will benefit from its ability to supply biodegradable, flushable wipes,” the report says. “This is being boosted by impending legislative targets calling for substitution of single-use plastics and new labelling requirements for wipes specifically.

“Spunlace has the best combination of performance properties and the best near-term global capacity to deliver this compared to competing nonwovens technologies – airlaid, coform, double recrepe (DRC), and wetlaid. Flushability performance of spunlace still needs to be optimised; and there is scope to improve substrate compatibility with quats, solvent resistance, and both wet and dry bulk.”

The report also notes that the wider sustainability drive is extending beyond wipes, with spunlace use in hygiene also set to increase, albeit from a small base. There is interest in multiple new formats, including spunlace topsheets, nappy/diaper stretch ear closures, as well as lightweight pantiliner cores, and ultrathin secondary topsheet for feminine hygiene pads. The main competitor in the hygiene segment are polypropylene-based spunlaids. To displace these there is a need for improved throughput on spunlace lines, to improve price competitiveness; and ensure superior uniformity at lower basis weights.


Post time: Feb-26-2024