Projektet pågick mellan september 2018 och maj 2021.
I dagens vårdsektor används en stor andel engångsartiklar av fossilbaserad textil. Projektet NordicBio – cirkulära nordiska biobaserade nonwovenprodukter ämnade bidra till att introducera fler fiberbaserade textilier inom vården. Satsningen hade även ambitionen att utveckla nya metoder för återvinning av textilfibrer, både på mekanisk och på kemisk väg. På detta sätt hoppades man bana väg för en effektivare och mer cirkulär resursanvändning. Projektets målsättning var även att bibehålla engångsmaterialens unika fördelar så som kostnad, enkelhet och hygien.
Sverige: Wargön Innovation, RISE IVF, Cellcomb, Fiber-X, Sporda Nonwoven, Södersjukhuset (Stockholms läns landsting)
Finland: VTT, Pure Waste Textiles (PWT)
Projektets totala svenska budget var 2,3 MSEK och den totala finska budgeten var EUR 498 914.
Därför var detta viktigt
Projektet var viktigt då det hade ambitionen att utveckla ytterligare ett användningsområde för växtbaserade textilfibrer och därigenom bidra till målsättningen att skapa en cirkulär ekonomi.
Förväntan var att projektet skulle bidra till ytterligare lösningar och processer för ett ökat användande av växtbaserade textilfibrer inom vårdsektorn.
Resterande presentation av projektet kommer att vara på engelska, då delar av projektets forskarteam är engelskspråkiga.
Projektets bidrag till en biobaserad samhällsekonomi
Nonwovens in healthcare applications is a fast-growing segment and Plastics Today estimates the global growth to 6-7% the coming years. Nonwovens are mostly produced by using fossil-based raw materials, and it is also noted that in related segments like textiles more than 60% of the global textile consumption in 2019 was based on fossil raw materials. Global leaders and decision makers are promoting the conversion into a bioeconomy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals are pacing the way in the same direction.
The NordicBio project supports the conversion into a bioeconomy by contributing with solutions for an increased usage of plant-based textile fibers in closed loop disposable medtech applications using nonwovens. Focus for the plant-based textile fibers have been cellulose, hemp and flax. Also, natural fibers and pulp fibers have been mixed with non-reusable and recycled textile material streams. The project also included cleaning processes for the recycled textile fibers as developed cleaning processes would enable a wider use of mechanically recycled fibers in general. Furthermore, consumer products connected to the scope was included as yarn spinning was part of the loop, see figure below.
A broad group of need owners participated in the project with Södersjukhuset representing the health care customer with an ambition to increase the use of bio-based materials and to learn more about bio-based and resource-efficient fibers and textiles as well as options for future procurement processes. Pure Waste Textiles (PWT) already now uses pre-consumer textile waste to produce consumer textiles, and they wanted to further develop their product portfolio by using post-consumer textile waste in new products. Cellcomb and Sporda are two need owners that supply health care protection products and other nonwovens, and they are interested to develop products that contains a high content of bio-based and/or resource-efficient fibers.
By connecting Finnish and Swedish know-how and utilizing key technologies the project was able to demonstrate and scale bio-based and resource-efficient nonwoven medtech applications as well as yarns.
Hence, the project supports the UN SGDs 8.4, 12.5 and 12.7 by the following activities:
- Improve global resource efficiency in consumption and production
- Reduce waste generation through recycling
- Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable
Konkreta resultat och leverabler
The main purpose in the project has been to replace fossil-based medtech materials by developing and demonstrate nonwoven medtech applications by combining bio-based and resource-efficient circular materials, the latter containing post-consumer workwear textiles. Since post-consumer textiles were part of the value chain, other applications were also studied and yarn spinning for consumer products was included. These two areas were connected by developing cleaning processes for post-consumer textiles which will be one of the key technologies for using post-consumer textiles in mechanical recycling.
Foam laid nonwoven in SAMPO pilot at VTT, Jyväskylä
In December 2019, recycled textile fibres were mixed with bleached softwood kraft pulp and BiCo fibres to form nonwoven materials on the foam laid SAMPO pilot. The rolls were then sent to Cellcomb in Säffle for lamination.
Lamination at Cellcomb
In June 2020, the foam laid nonwoven rolls from VTT (Jyväskylä) was laminated at Cellcomb, Säffle with a starch-based film.
Open end spinning in lab at RISE, Mölndal
In October 2020, recycled textile fibres was used in open end spinning at RISE.
Wet laid trials at Fiber-X, April 2021
In April 2021, bleach kraft pulp and recycled textile fibres were mixed and wet laid on the pilot paper machine at Fiber-X in Markaryd.
Bleached Kraft pulp into pulper, April 13 at 11.25, first trials
Wet laid on pilot paper machine, pre trials, April 15 at 10.11
Wet laid on pilot paper machine, kraft pulp and recycled textile fibres, April 15 at 10.13
Recycled textile fibres before trials, April 15 at 12.55
Bleached kraft pulp in pulper, April 15 at 13.04
Bleached kraft pulp in pulper, addition of recycled textile fibres, April 15 at 13.14
Pulper, bleached kraft pulp and recycled textile fibres, April 15 at 13.21
Pulper, bleached kraft pulp and recycled textile fibres, April 15 at 13.53
Wet laid pilot paper machine, bleached kraft pulp and recycled textile fibres, April 15 at 14.08
Wet laid pilot paper machine, bleached kraft pulp and recycled textile fibres, April 15 at 14.08
Final product, wet laid material containing bleached kraft pulp and recycled textile fibres, April 16 at 10.04
Resultatens effekter och potential
The project has served as a platform for demonstrating new value chains where raw materials as post-consumer textiles and technologies like foam laying, air-laying, carding and wet laying have been evaluated. Also, cleaning technologies for post-consumer textiles show good potential and is an important part in the value chain.
Product focus has been both on medtech nonwovens/textile-like materials and on yarn for consumer textiles. It is shown that these new value chains call for both new processes, new business contacts and new collaborations.
The project aimed to increase the use of bio-based and resource-efficient materials in nonwoven medtech applications and yarns. Post-consumer textiles were used both in nonwovens and yarns which is in line with the new European waste directive coming in force by January 1, 2025, and stating that all textiles have to be collected separately and be prepared for reuse or recycling. Also, in Sweden, it was decided by the government that Sweden will implement a producer responsibility for textiles. These regulations will push the market to use more recycled raw materials like non wearable post-consumer textiles. Also, the EU has launched the Green Deal initiative promoting circular bioeconomy as an important step to reach the goals in the Paris Agreement. The EU has also developed criteria for GPP, Green Public Procurement, to facilitate the inclusion of green requirements in public tender documents. Hence, it will be necessary to develop both biobased solutions and circular textile value chains for the future.
However, there are still challenges to overcome to be able to commercialize the solutions suggested by the project, both when it comes to technical development but also most likely regarding pricing as these products probably will cost more than the fossil-based products on the market today. Public procurement as a mean to open up the market for these products is one way of pulling innovations further, e.g., to use the Swedish model “innovationsupphandling” (innovation procurement). New supply chains based on textile waste face challenges when it comes to availability, standardization, and fulfilling present directives like REACH etc.
Finally, systemic projects like these often need follow-up projects to reach full potential and commercialization. Many of the project participants (SMEs) expressed a wish to continue to develop the promising results, and also stated the need for doing so in cooperation with other actors since they cannot carry out this on their own. Therefore, possibilities to apply for further funding to build on these project results would make a difference.
Already in May 2019, the project was referred to in an article in the Swedish journal Dagens Medicin (Daily Medicin). Project leader Wargön Innovation has also promoted the project on numerous occasions when presenting Wargön Innovation and the projects we engage in, e.g. at the Vilnius conference on textiles in January 2020, and when the Danish textile network visited Wargön in November 2019. Finnish partner VTT has promoted the project within Finnish networks, e.g., on March 16, 2020, the project was presented at the international Telaketju webinar hosted by VTT. Also, a short introduction of the project was given at theVirtual launch event of ExpandFibre Programmes & Ecosystem on 29th October 2020, furthermore, NordicBio has been mentioned in multiple Telaketju events, reports and materials.
Project results were included into two conference presentations (&papers)
- Taina Kamppuri, Pirjo Heikkilä, Petri Jetsu, Marjo Määttänen, Eetta Saarimäki, Recycled Cotton Fibres in Healthcare Textile Applications, Innovations in Textiles for Healthcare 25th April 2019, Ghent Belgium, oral presentation
- Pirjo Heikkilä, Taina Kamppuri, Eetta Saarimäki, Jukka Pesola, Noora Alhainen, Petri Jetsu, Recycled Cotton Fibres in Technical and Clothing Applications, 4th International Conference on Natural Fibres (ICNF2019), 1.-3.7.2019, Porto, Portugal, oral presentation and extended abstract in book of abstracts
VTT has also published a report related to its role and achievements in NordicBio project.
- Heikkilä, P., Määttänen, M., Jetsu, P., Kamppuri, T., & Paunonen, S. (2020). Nonwovens from Mechanically Recycled Fibres for Medical Applications. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. VTT Research Report No. VTT-R-00923-20. Publicly available in https://cris.vtt.fi/en/projects/circular-nordic-bio-nonwoven-in-medtech-applications-2 (Report has been available since November 2020, and downloaded from VTT server almost 200 times by 3.8.2021)
On January 14, 2021, Wargön Innovation and VTT co-hosted the Finnish-Swedish Textile Circularity Day where the NordicBio project was presented to 100+ international participants. The project was also represented in the BioInnovation yearly report 2020. In addition, most of the project partners has also promoted the project both on websites, social media and in discussions both internally and externally. There were also plans to participate in additional international conferences, and abstracts were sent in, however due to the pandemic the conferences were postponed.
The project will also be one of the selected projects on the BioInnovation event “SWE-FIN seminar on circular bioeconomy” on October 25, 2021.
The project demonstrated that it is possible to produce bio-based and resource-efficient nonwovens that have the potential to be commercialised within medtech applications. However, further development is needed as properties like lower grammage, higher strength, more softness and drapability is desirable. A few next steps were identified, e.g. develop fibre processing for the cutting phase, optimise fibre blends, assess other additives etc. Also, properties like absorption can be developed.
Using post-consumer textiles in yarn production is a large step forward. Even if the project was able to further enhance this process, more development work is still needed in this area.
Unfortunately, the final part of the project could not be performed as planned due to the pandemic. The SMEs that participated in the project were affected in different ways making it more difficult to perform and participate in pilot tests, market surveys, visits etc. Therefore, no defined follow-up projects have been started, but the participants will continue to keep contact to evaluate further common project ideas and possibilities.