Wipes have a wide range of applications, are a part of modern life, and can be found in many homes. In particular, the demand for personal hygiene products has increased and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 8.0% over the next few years. Convenience and hygiene demand that these wipes be easy to handle, preferably immediately after use, creating a market for biodegradable and flushable products.
Biodegradability is defined as the breakdown mechanism that biologically produces simple substances. Two groups of polymers in the list of fibers for nonwovens, cellulose, and PLA, meet this criterion, with the biodegradability of PLA in the marine environment being discussed recently. Over 50% of the raw materials used in wipes are cellulosic natural biopolymers such as regenerated fibers, wood pulp, and cotton, which are all biodegradable in the aquatic environment.
For a fully biodegradable product, it must consist entirely of these materials, but synthetic fibers can be found in wipes labeled as flushable. Toilet paper, for example, is a material that consists only of cellulose pulp and breaks down well after processing. The wipes produced as a mixture of viscose and wood pulp showed sufficient strength to properly use the wipes.
They consist exclusively of cellulosic material and are therefore biodegradable. In these wipes, the long viscose fibers form the load-bearing structure, providing wet strength, while the pulp fibers attached to the body are responsible for liquid absorption and dispersion properties. The combination of the production process of these wipes, wet-laid forming of the fabric, and subsequent hydroentangling using high-pressure water jets do not require chemical agents as additives or binders. For disposal, it must be possible to flush the wipes into the sewage system.