Fitesa, Simpsonville, S.C. — a designer and manufactuer of nonwoven fabrics for hygiene
applications — has partnered with thermoplastic resins producer Braskem S.A., Brazil, and Ingeo®
lactides and biopolymers developer NatureWorks LLC, Minnetonka, Minn., to develop and commercialize
a completely biobased bicomponent spunbond nonwoven that can replace petroleum-based bicomponent
spunbonds in hygiene and personal care applications.
The bicomponent material features a sheath made with Braskem’s I’m green™ 100-percent
biobased polyethylene (bio-PE) derived from sugarcane-based ethanol and a core made using
NatureWorks’ 100-percent biobased Ingeo polylactide derived from annually renewable resources.
According to Fitesa, the nonwoven fabric features softness owing to the bio-PE sheath and strength
and robustness owing to the Ingeo core. The fabric will be available in a variety of basis weights.
“The fabric softness is exceptional and counters the misperception some have in the market
that there must be some compromise in performance to achieve a 100-percent renewably sourced
product,” said Ray Dunleavy, Fitesa’s director of marketing, strategy and business development.
According to Braskem, for every ton of I’m green plastic produced, more than 2 tons of carbon
dioxide (CO2) are sequestered, while oil-based plastic production releases CO2. The bio-PE is
produced in southern Brazil in the company’s Triunfo Petrochemical Complex, which has a production
capacity of 200 kilotons per year (kt/yr).
NatureWorks reports that for each ton of Ingeo produced, CO2 emissions are reduced by 60
percent compared to oil-based polyester production and by 30 to 40 percent compared to oil-based
polyolefin production. Ingeo is produced at the company’s recently expanded flagship facility in
Nebraska, which has a production capacity of 150 kt/yr. NatureWorks also has begun designing a
second production facility in Southeast Asia.
October 1, 2013