Said to be the world’s only continuous-filament cellulose non-woven, Bemiese, produced by Asahi Kasei from cotton linter, has further enhanced its sustainability credentials with its recent certification as OK biodegradable MARINE by TÜV AUSTRIA Belgium. The product had previously already been certified by the same agency as industrially compostable, home compostable and biodegradable in soil. TÜV is the only organisation that offers marine biodegradability certification.
Cotton linter refers to the hair-like fibres found on cotton seeds and was traditionally considered a pre-consumer waste biproduct of the traditional cotton harvesting process. It now makes up roughly 3% of the total yield. Asahi Kasei has developed a clean, proprietary process for treating this linter to produce sheets that can be integrated into a diverse array of product designs.
The material that can be utilised for a diverse array of disposable goods and applications, ranging from cosmetic facial masks, hygienic applications and medical sterilisation, to cleaning equipment for high-precision machinery and laboratories.
When dry, Bemliese™ leaves virtually no lint, scratches, or chemicals on the surfaces it touches, making it an ideal material for cleaning equipment in industrial, laboratory, or medical environments that must remain contamination-free. Its high purity keeps the material free from excess oils or chemicals that may be inherent in similar materials. It also has a higher rate of absorbency than cotton gauze, rayon/PET, or nonwoven cotton.
On the other hand, unlike cotton, a sheet of Bemliese™ becomes extraordinarily soft after moistening and drapes well over any surface it touches with little to no abrasion. Its extraordinary absorption of moisture and ability to hold onto tiny particles makes it an ideal material for hygienic applications or medical sterilization. When soaked, it can grip the surface of an object tightly and hold the material in place while it dries.
These properties have made it a popular choice for cosmetic facial masks throughout Asia. Asahi Kasei is now eyeing further expansion in markets outside of Asia.
The company is currently launching Bemliese in North America via its trading arm in the USA, Asahi Kasei Advance America, and is also planning to establish contacts on the European market.
The timing is prescient: with tightening regulations as well as changing consumer demands, the European industry is increasingly shifting towards the use of more sustainable materials. “The “OK biodegradable MARINE” certificate will help to increase the awareness towards the eco-friendly aspects of materials made of regenerated cellulose, especially in regard to the marine microplastics issue,” said Koichi Yamashita, Head of Sales at Bemliese, Performance Products SBU at Asahi Kasei.
In addition, as of this month, a raft of products made from single-use plastics have been banned in the EU.
“This opens up new opportunities for cellulose-based fibre materials, which are not part of this ban,” said Yamashita.