Kelheim Fibres, the world’s leading manufacturer of viscose speciality fibres, has published its first Sustainability Report. Sustainability Manager Timo Thunitgut is very pleased to have reached this milestone: “Credibility and trust are based on transparency. Our Sustainability Report according to the framework of the UN Global Compact follows these principles and presents our actions fully transparently. It shows how we as a company live up to our responsibility for people and the environment; it reveals our contribution to combatting one of the biggest global problems of our time – the increasing waste problem caused by disposable plastic products – with our biodegradable fibres.”
As part of their EMAS certification, the Bavarians have already been publishing an annual environmental statement since 2020, in which all relevant environmental data are available to the public. The Sustainability Report, which will also be published annually, goes one step further here – it covers not only the company’s environmental performance, but also Corporate Social Responsibility as a whole.
Following this approach, the fibre experts have also created a new structure internally, which gives even more weight to the area of CSR: In future, all sustainability topics will be centrally integrated in the new CSR department (formerly HSE, Health, Safety & Environment) under the leadership of Wolfgang Ott. Wolfgang Ott: “Responsible corporate behaviour is and will increasingly become a relevant competitive differentiator. By bundling all CSR aspects in one department, our CSR performance, a topic that has been firmly anchored in our philosophy for years, will gain even more visibility and impact.”
See our Sustainability Report 2021.
Over the past 14 days, the wholesale cost of natural gas in Germany has risen by more than 50%. This increase presents an extraordinary challenge for industry, and there is no sign of support or intervention from the Government. Indeed, recent statements are destined to provoke a worsening of the situation.
Kelheim Fibres is entirely dependent on natural gas for the generation of electrical energy and steam and has no viable short-term alternatives. In addition, the raw materials used by the company often consume high levels of energy in their production and are also increasing significantly in cost. These increases in cost jeopardise the future of the business if they cannot be passed on though the supply chain.
Kelheim Fibres is calling on the Government of Germany to take immediate steps to mitigate the impact of the cost increases for natural gas and is committed to work to implement alternative sources of energy in the medium term.
In parallel, the disruption to global logistic networks that has been seen throughout 2021 is now expected to continue throughout 2022. Massive increases in shipping rates – in some cases in excess of 80% – are being imposed without notice and with no opportunity for negotiation. These costs must also be passed on though the supply chain if businesses are to remain viable.
To address these issues, Kelheim Fibres is implementing the following measures with immediate effect:
- The increased cost of energy and freight will be passed on in prices to customers at the soonest opportunity;
- If necessary, changes or adjustments to existing agreements will be negotiated to reflect the increased cost levels;
- If the necessary increase in fibre prices cannot be secured, cuts to production will be implemented with the objective of minimising losses until the cost increases can be mitigated.
As the drivers for the increases in natural gas prices appear to be temporary in nature, we will maintain any price adjustments under review and pass on any relief to customers.
Craig Barker, CEO of Kelheim Fibres, describes the current situation as critical. “The cost increases we are facing are unprecedented and call for swift and decisive action. We are determined to take the necessary steps to preserve the future of our business and provide security of supply for our customers. At the same time, we are relying on the support of our customers to help us conquer the challenges our business is facing.”
In the Canopy’s 2021 Hot Button Ranking, Kelheim Fibres once again occupies a leading position: With a increase of 2.5 points in the evaluation, the Bavarian viscose speciality fibre manufacturer tied for third place out of around 40 viscose fibre manufacturers worldwide and a dark green/green shirt for the second year running. The Hot Button Report not only stands for responsible raw material sourcing – it is an overall sustainability indicator for viscose fibre producers.
Especially in the areas of transparency and procurement, the NGO Canopy, which is committed to the preservation of ancient and endangered forests, awarded Kelheim Fibres top points: Kelheim Fibres is the only EMAS-certified viscose fibre manufacturer worldwide and publishes all environmentally relevant data publicly.
Kelheim Fibres also gained points in the area of “Next Generation Solutions” – the use of alternative raw materials in fibre production. Together with the Swedish textile recycling company Renewcell, the fibre experts are planning to realise the large-scale production of high-quality viscose fibres from up to 10,000 tonnes of the 100% textile recyclate Circulose® per year.
“As a manufacturing company, we take our responsibility towards the environment very seriously. Sustainable action must begin with the raw materials on which our products are based: Trees, and in particular the ancient and endangered forests of our planet, play an important role in climate protection as carbon reservoirs, as well as for biodiversity and many other ecological processes. It is our duty to protect this valuable and irreplaceable resource,” says Matthew North, Commercial Director at Kelheim Fibres. “We are very proud of our position in the Hot Button Ranking and will expand our pioneering role even further in the future.”
Today, Renewcell and Kelheim Fibres Gmbh have signed a Letter of Intent for a long term commercial collaboration to add the crucial missing link for a circular economy for textiles in Europe. Together, the two technology leaders will collaborate on developing commercial scale production of superior quality viscose fibers from up to 10 000 tonnes of Renewcell’s 100% textile recycled material Circulose® annually. The collaboration paves the way toward a fully European closed loop in which textile waste is collected, recycled and regenerated into new Circulose® fibers for people that want to reduce their fashion footprint significantly.
“European fashion consumption has great impact on climate and the environment globally. It also contributes to tremendous amounts of waste going into landfill and incinerators either in Europe or abroad after export. We will now work with Kelheim to prevent waste and reduce the need for virgin resources, while also enabling a fully regional supply of low impact circular fibers for textiles” comments Patrik Lundström, CEO of Renewcell. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to work closely with a partner like Kelheim, who is at the leading edge of innovation and sustainability in this industry” he adds.
Craig Barker, CEO at Kelheim Fibres adds: “We see an excellent fit between our two companies, not only on the technical side – with Renewcell we have found a highly professional partner who shares our vision for future-forward technologies that enable full circularity in the textile chain. Finding the answers to the challenges of our times is what drives us every day.
Our recycled cellulose fibre solution – made of Renewcell’s Circulose® and manufactured using environmentally sound processes at our Kelheim plant – is an answer to the fashion industries need for sustainable, resource- and waste-reducing solutions, and a more regional and reliable supply chain.”
See also: www.renewcell.com
The German speciality viscose fibre manufacturer Kelheim Fibres was awarded gold in the CSR rating by EcoVadis, scoring among the top 3% of all companies evaluated.
The rating was well above average in all four individual areas (environment, labour and human rights, ethics, sustainable procurement), but Kelheim Fibres achieved absolute top scores in the environment area in particular.
“We create plant-based specialty fibres that enable healthy lifestyles while helping to preserve our environment for future generations,” said Craig Barker, CEO at Kelheim Fibres. “Environmentally friendly production and our overall environmental, social and ethical performance is the measure of how seriously we take our own aspirations.”
“We don’t want to rest on our gold medal: As always, when we face an assessment like EcoVadis, we welcome any suggestions for improvement – constantly improving is a core element of our strategy for the future” Barker continued.
In addition to the excellent EcoVadis rating, Kelheim Fibres is also the first viscose fibre producer worldwide with a certified EMAS environmental management system and ranked highly in the Canadian NGO Canopy’s “Hot Button Report” for sustainable wood and pulp sourcing.
Since its founding in 2007, EcoVadis has grown to become the world’s largest and most trusted provider of business sustainability ratings, creating a global network of more than 75,000 rated companies.
Reducing global plastic pollution is the central theme of the Plastic Free World Conference, which will take place in Cologne in November 2021.
While circularity is undeniably a sensible step towards combating the problem, German viscose speciality fibre manufacturer Kelheim Fibres is focusing on the root of the problem: “Recycling is good – avoiding plastic in the first place is better,” says Ilka Kaczmarek, Innovation Manager at Kelheim Fibres.
For this, materials are needed that are able to replace synthetic product components without the end consumer having to accept compromises in product performance.
“Our speciality fibres are such an alternative as they perfectly combine the advantages of natural fibres and synthetic fibres. They are plant-based and biodegradable like natural fibres – but can be functionalised during the production process so that they achieve the performance values of synthetic fibres,” says Kaczmarek.
Kelheim Fibres was nominated for the German Sustainability Award in 2021 with their fibre concept for AHP and supplies solutions for a diverse range of areas of application: hygiene products intended for convenient single use such as the just mentioned AHP (absorbent hygiene products, e.g. sanitary towels), wipes or facial masks benefit from the environmentally friendly fibres just as much as reusable products. In the hygiene sector, these include period panties, which are enjoying growing popularity.
But trendy well-being textiles also benefit from the special fibres from Kelheim: they can be functionalised according to the needs of the application and thus actively contribute to the well-being of the wearer – for example through increased wearing comfort, thermoregulating properties or even through a built-in infrared effect as in the case of Celliant Viscose.
How Kelheim Fibres is developing functional cellulosic fibres for high-performance applications thanks to flexible technology and open innovation, and thus replacing more and more synthetic fibres, will be the topic of Ilka Kaczmarek’s presentation at the conference on 10.11. at 3.15 pm.
Not only since 2021 has sustainability been a topic high on society’s agenda. And yet the importance of sustainability for consumers and companies has once again increased sharply as a result of the Corona pandemic, as numerous studies confirm. Then why is it often so difficult to implement this conviction in everyday life? One of the biggest obstacles to sustainable consumer behaviour is the lack of availability of alternatives.
Kelheim Fibres, German viscose speciality fibre manufacturer and a fixture in the nonwovens industry for decades, offers a solution: innovative bio-based fibres that are a real alternative to synthetic materials in a wide range of applications.
Combining nature with Performance
“We want to make it easy for consumers to choose an environmentally friendly option. That’s the case when bio-based solutions offer the same performance as synthetic products,” said Matthew North, Commercial Director at Kelheim Fibres.” Our fibre technology allows us to create just that: unlike natural fibres, which are available already in fibre form and can only be treated on the surface, we can engineer the properties of our fibres they need for specific applications by specifically intervening in the production process. That way we combine nature – our fibres are made of wood pulp – with performance.””
This is how, for example, a series of special fibres for environmentally friendly Absorbent Hygiene Products (AHP) were created. These fibres have to fulfil different functions: While some ensure that liquids are passed on quickly, others score points for good distribution, particularly good absorbency or retention capacity. These fibres enable the production of completely biodegradable (feminine) hygiene products that do not need to hide behind their synthetic counterparts in terms of performance – a decisive aspect for the buyer, especially in the sensitive hygiene sector. In developing the AHP fibres, Kelheim was also able to draw on its expertise in the field of tampon fibres, where it has been the market leader for many years with its particularly absorbent Galaxy® fibre.
Another example is Kelheim’s special fibres for flushable wipes: VILOFT® short-cut fibres, in combination with modern production technology, enable the manufacture of soft wet wipes that remain reliably stable during use but subsequently dissolve in a very short time. In addition, they are also fully biodegradable and thus help to reduce plastic pollution of our waters.
Shifting from a fossil-based to a bio-based economy
In addition to changing consumer demands, the EU Commission’s recent decision on the single-use plastics directive is also prompting many nonwovens manufacturers to look at alternative solutions. Kelheim Fibres presents itself as the ideal partner at this year’s INDEX in Geneva and online. The Bavarians not only bring decades of experience in the nonwovens and hygiene sector, but also enormous innovative power: “Our open innovation concept aims to find the best individual solutions in close dialogue with our partners along the value chain and to address unmet needs in the market.” Says Dr Marina Crnoja-Cosic, Director New Business at Kelheim Fibres.
Kelheim’s special fibres are made of wood pulp from sustainably managed sources, are produced in Kelheim in an environmentally friendly way and are fully biodegradable at the end of their product life. Kelheim Fibres is the first viscose fibre manufacturer in the world with an EMAS validated Environmental Management System and was awarded a dark green/light green shirt in the most recent Canopy HotButton-Ranking.
The year 2021 has brought extraordinary challenges for society and for industry. Alongside the Covid-19 pandemic, recovering demand, disruption in the global freight systems and dramatically increased energy costs due to reduced supply and emissions trading schemes and their consequences are driving significant cost increases for raw materials and negatively influencing supply chains. Prices for energy and freight currently lie well outside their historical ranges.
Kelheim Fibres GmbH has been successful in limiting the impact of the pandemic on fibre production. However, as a company operating its own cogeneration energy plant and with a high level of export business outside Europe, these cost factors have had a severe negative impact on margins during the second and third quarters of 2021. With energy costs set to remain at unprecedentedly high levels and potentially increase further in the fourth quarter, no relief to the high level of freight costs foreseeable, and raw material costs also remaining at a high level, the company needs to take steps to prevent further margin erosion.
Kelheim Fibres GmbH is therefore announcing that with effect from 01. October 2021, or as contracts and agreements allow, prices for its range of viscose fibres will be increased by €0,20/kg. In addition, freight cost adjustments will be applied on an individual customer basis. In cases where energy cost adjustments are not included in contracts and agreements, a temporary energy surcharge will be applied.
“The measures we are taking are absolutely necessary to ensure that Kelheim Fibres remains in a position to supply fibres with the levels of quality and service expected by our customers,” says Matthew North, Commercial Director of Kelheim Fibres.
Kelheim Fibres’ Business Managers will be in contact with individual customers during September with further information.
Kelheim Fibres, the leading manufacturer of viscose specialty fibers, and Hologenix®, creators of CELLIANT®, a responsive textile using infrared technology, partnered to create CELLIANT® viscose, a unique combination of nature and performance. Dominik Mayer, Kelheim’s Project Manager for Fibre & Application Development, and Courtney OKeefe, Hologenix’s Chief Supply Officer, will share the story of how this first in-fiber sustainable solution on the market was developed. They will present at a webinar during the Dornbirn Global Fiber Conference Thursday, September 16, at 5:50 pm CEST.
CELLIANT viscose in blends with cotton, regular viscose, MicroModal®, lyocell and wool offers a range of varieties. Among the many applications, it is ideal for performance wear, luxury loungewear, casual wear, bedding, towels and beauty.
CELLIANT viscose features natural, ethically sourced minerals embedded into plant-based fibers to create infrared products that capture and convert body heat into infrared, improving cellular oxygenation.
Kelheim’s flexible technology permits targeted interventions in the viscose fiber process and delivers this unique fiber that provides full functionality without the need for any additional processing steps, while impressing with a softer feel and cost and time savings compared to coated fabrics.
CELLIANT viscose is available in the following fiber types: Textile 1,7 dtex/40 mm, Nonwovens 1,7 dtex/40 mm, Wool 2,5 dtex/Variable Cut, Filling/Nonwovens 6,7 dtex/60 mm.
Link to high-res. photos: https://spaces.hightail.com/space/W7CnIjbN3K
Hologenix®, headquartered in Pacific Palisades, California, is a materials science innovation company producing products that energize all aspects of life. Its flagship product, CELLIANT®, is a responsive textile using infrared technology that provides a myriad of wellness benefits and is an ingredient in world-class brands across multiple industries.
CELLIANT is rigorously tested by a Science Advisory Board composed of experts in the fields of photobiology, nanotechnology, sleep medicine, and diabetes and wound care.
The Science Advisory Board has overseen 9 peer-reviewed published studies that demonstrate CELLIANT’s effectiveness and the benefits of infrared energy.
A sustainable product is a mosaic of many individual building blocks – Kelheim Fibres, the world’s first viscose fibre producer with an EMAS-certified environmental management system, is constantly working to further improve every single one of these building blocks.
The innovative viscose special fibres from Kelheim can be functionalised as required – this often saves further processing steps (such as dyeing or coating) and thus also energy, water and chemicals. At the end of their product life, fibres from Kelheim are completely biodegradable in a short time (according to OECD Test 301 B) and thus contribute to the preservation of valuable habitats.
Now Kelheim Fibres is taking a step further: the fibre specialists are working on the development of alternative raw materials, such as recycled cellulose as well as other cellulosic feedstocks for the production of their viscose fibres. One approach to closing the product loop in the textile sector is the use of pulp produced from recycled post-consumer waste materials.
Kelheim Fibres offers its customers innovative viscose fibres made exclusively from certified wood from sustainably managed forests for the production of plastic-free and biodegradable end products.
In production, Kelheim Fibres focuses on conserving resources by minimising emissions and waste. This happens through closed-loop recovery systems as well as a highly efficient energy generation and the energy-efficient operation of the plants.
Find out more in the lecture by Dr Roland Scholz, Project Manager Fibre and Application Development at Kelheim Fibres, on Wednesday, 15 September, at 5.50 p.m., in Hall B of the 60th Dornbirn GFC WEBINAR WEEK.
We are proud to be nominated for the German Sustainability Award (Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis), the leading award for sustainable development in Europe. We were nominated in the category “Biodiversity” for the concept of our biodegradable fibres for absorbent hygiene products, which achieve comparable performance values to synthetic solutions due to their specific functionalisation. By replacing more and more fossil-based materials and thereby reducing plastic pollution, our sustainably manufactured fibres have a positive impact on the preservation of biodiversity and the protection of ecosystems.
For more information:
Dr Marina Crnoja-Cosic, Director New Business Development, and Matthew North, Commercial Director, represented Kelheim Fibres at the award ceremony. The manufacturer of special viscose fibres has been working with the BioCampus Straubing for many years and is a supporter of the competition, this year as prize sponsors.
In this capacity, Dr. Crnoja-Cosic was honoured to congratulate the newly founded team of Microbify GmbH on their third place and present them with a cheque for 3,000 Euros. As a spin-off from the University of Regensburg, Microbify works, among other things, on the use of old natural gas storage facilities for the production of green natural gas using extremophilic microorganisms. Dr. Crnoja-Cosic particularly praised the approach of reusing existing infrastructure in an innovative way.
At the same time, she was enthusiastic about the scope of the competition: “62 applications from Germany and all over the world show how much creative potential has been mobilised here. At the same time, the start-ups prove that their ideas also work economically. Only the combination of both will really move us forward and make our dream of a bio-based economy a reality.”
Driving the change from a fossil-based to a bio-based economy is a declared goal of Kelheim Fibres – their speciality fibres are replacing fossil materials in more and more applications. To this end, the fibre manufacturer seeks inspiration and exchange within its own industry as well as with innovation partners from outside the industry, start-ups and science in an open innovation approach.
“The cooperation with BioCampus Straubing is very valuable for us,” says Crnoja-Cosic. “Here we find people who share our passion for seeking innovative answers to previously unsolved needs.”
The Bavarian viscose speciality fibre manufacturer Kelheim Fibres has joined the ZDHC programme “Roadmap to Zero”.
The non-profit organisation with more than 160 contributors worldwide has set itself the goal of completely eliminating harmful substances from the textile value chain. The ZDHC guidelines provide producers of Man-made Cellulosic Fibres (MMCF) with uniform criteria for measuring indicators such as wastewater, air emissions and other process-related parameters. The measured data is independently monitored and published.
Kelheim Fibres, the world’s first EMAS-validated viscose fibre producer, sees its ZDHC contributorship as another building block on the road to even more sustainable fibre production:
“We want to develop our industry with our know-how towards a greener future. Sustainability is an integral part of our corporate philosophy and strategy. We fully support ZDHC’s vision of a widespread implementation of sustainably chemistry, driving innovations and best practices in textile, apparel and footwear industries to protect consumers workers and the environment,” says Craig Barker, CEO at Kelheim Fibres.
“ZDHC provides us with access to a range of best practices in chemical management and gives us the opportunity to network and learn from each other with like-minded industry partners. ZDHC’s collaborative approach will accelerate the shift to a more responsible industry and we want to contribute to that.”
Hologenix, creators of Celliant®, infrared responsive technology, and Kelheim Fibres, the world-leading manufacturer of viscose specialty fibers, have partnered to launch Celliant Viscose at ISPO Munich 2021. Celliant Viscose is a finalist in Best Products by ISPO and will be showcased in the Fibers & Insulations Category for ISPO Textrends, where realistic views and 3-D simulations will be available for each material.
The introduction of nature-based Celliant Viscose will be the first in-fiber infrared sustainable solution on the market and meets a consumer demand for more environmentally friendly textiles. An alternative to synthetic fibers and extremely versatile, Celliant Viscose blends beautifully with cotton, micromodal, lyocell, wool varieties including cashmere. It also has many applications across industries as it is ideal for performance wear, luxury loungewear, casual wear and bedding.
Celliant Viscose features natural, ethically sourced minerals embedded into plant-based fibers to create infrared products that capture and convert body heat into infrared, increasing local circulation and improved cellular oxygenation. This results in stronger performance, faster recovery and better sleep.
“We are confident the exciting introduction of Celliant Viscose will resonate strongly with brands as well as the end consumer,” said Seth Casden, Hologenix Co-Founder and CEO. “It is a sustainable infrared solution that can be integrated into everything from cotton to luxury wools and cashmere and offers myriad applications.”
Celliant Viscose provides all the benefits of being a viscose fiber — lightweight, soft, highly breathable, excellent moisture management — as well as fiber enhancements from Celliant infrared technology. Celliant’s proprietary blend of natural minerals allows textiles to capture and convert body heat into full-spectrum infrared energy, resulting in stronger performance, faster recovery and better sleep. In addition, Celliant is durable and will not wash out, lasting the useful life of the product it powers.
“Sustainable products for a healthy lifestyle and wellbeing — that’s what both Hologenix and Kelheim Fibres stand for. This shared vision of the future is the sound basis for our seamless cooperation,” said Dr. Marina Crnoja-Cosic, Head of New Business Development and Member of the Board at Kelheim Fibres. “Combining our technological expertise and our innovative spirit, we have opened the way for an entirely new range of possible applications.”
An Affordable, Long-lasting Solution with Diverse Applications
As opposed to other IR viscose products which are coatings based, Celliant Viscose’s in-fiber solution increases wearability and longevity with a soft feel, durability from washing and longer life. The combination of Kelheim’s distinctive technology and the Celliant additives creates this unique fiber that provides full functionality without the need for any additional processing step — a new standard in the field of sustainable IR viscose fibers. This single processing also makes Celliant Viscose more cost-effective and time-efficient than coatings.
In addition, Kelheim’s flexible technology allows targeted interventions in the viscose fiber process. By modifying the fiber’s dimensions or cross sections or by incorporating additives into the fiber matrix, Kelheim can precisely define the fiber’s properties according to the specific needs of the end product.
Celliant Viscose is a plant and mineral-based solution for brands seeking an alternative to synthetic fibers. It contains natural raw materials that are from the earth and can return safely to the earth.
Nature-based Celliant Viscose is certified by FSC® or PEFC™, which guarantees the origin in sustainably managed plantations, and is part of the CanopyStyle initiative to protect ancient and endangered forests. The production of Celliant Viscose takes place exclusively at the Kelheim facilities in Germany, complying with the country’s strict environmental laws and guaranteeing an overall eco-friendly product.
Backed by Science
Celliant is rigorously tested by a Science Advisory Board composed of experts in the fields of physics, biology, chemistry and medicine. The Science Advisory Board has overseen 10 clinical, technical and physical trials, and seven published studies that demonstrate Celliant’s effectiveness and the benefits of infrared energy.
To learn more about Celliant Viscose, visit: www.celliant.com/celliant-viscose/
Link to high-res. logos/image: http://bit.ly/3s7WzJJ
Hologenix, headquartered in Pacific Palisades, California, is a materials science innovation company producing products that energize all aspects of life. Its flagship product, Celliant, is an infrared responsive textile that provides a myriad of wellness benefits and is an ingredient in world-class brands across multiple industries. www.celliant.com
The Bavarian Kelheim Fibres GmbH has become the first viscose fibre manufacturer worldwide to receive EMAS certification.
“Our aspiration is that our fibres offer an eco-friendly and high-performance alternative to synthetic materials”, says Craig Barker, CEO at Kelheim Fibres. “So, it’s not enough that our fibres are made from renewable resources and that they are fully biodegradable – our environmental awareness must include the whole production process and all that goes with it if we want to safeguard our credibility. The EMAS certification proves that we take this responsibility seriously.”
EMAS stands for “Eco Management and Audit Scheme” and is a standardised eco management certification system developed by the European Union. EMAS includes the globally applicable ISO 14001 standard and goes beyond its requirements by demanding more transparency and continuous improvement: Certified companies report in their annual EMAS Environmental Statement on their environmental goals and their progress in meeting them.
During the audit preceding the certification, the independent environmental auditor thoroughly investigated all departments of the company, from the production itself to the company canteen. He found no non-conformances and was impressed by the competence and the high sense of responsibility among Kelheim’s employees.
In contrast to the EU Ecolabel and similar certifications, EMAS does not apply to individual products or services, but certifies the complete environmental performance of the company. This benefits not only the protection of the environment and climate, but also the improvement of a company’s eco-efficiency.
Craig Barker: “An efficient environmental management system ensures that economy and ecology go hand in hand – that gives us a decisive competitive edge.”
Kelheim Fibres has been named as one of the finalists for the “Cellulose Fibre Innovation of the Year 2021” innovation award to be presented at the 2nd International Conference on Cellulose Fibres.
With their plant-based and biodegradable fibres, the Bavarian viscose speciality fibres manufacturer presents a significant contribution to a plastic-free future for AHP (absorbent hygiene products). In contrast to other natural fibres, which are already available in fibre form and can only be treated on the surface, Kelheim’s technological flexibility offers the possibility to modify cross-sections and to introduce additives into the fibre matrix for intrinsic functionalisation. Through these modifications, Kelheim tailors its fibres specifically to the requirements of the individual nonwoven layers of the AHP and is able to achieve comparable performance values to synthetic fibres.
In addition to this, the speciality fibres from Kelheim offer a very attractive ratio of cost to performance in comparison with other fibres of natural origin such as organic cotton. They are therefore not only able to enhance the performance of the final products more effectively than other bio-based alternatives, but are, at the same time, financially attractive.
“Consumers of absorbent hygiene products are often faced with a choice between sustainable solutions made from fibres of natural origin and products with better performance and good fluid management properties produced using synthetic fibres,“ says Dominik Mayer, from Kelheim’s R&D team. „Our goal is to offer products to the consumer which combine both sustainability and performance. Our sustainable and functional fibre technologies now make this possible.“
The project is a good illustration of the central element of Kelheim Fibres‘ innovation philosophy: the identification of unsolved problems in the market and the development of solutions in close cooperation with experts along the value chain using open innovation techniques. Fibres from Kelheim also offer a significant contribution to overcoming one of the biggest global challenges of our time, by reducing the amount of plastic waste in the environment. Step by step, or in this case layer by layer – Kelheim Fibres is moving towards a vision of a plastic-free future.
Kelheim’s developments include the hydrophobized Olea fibre (for fast acquisition and efficient transfer of liquid and for better rewet values in the topsheet) as well as the Galaxy® fibre (for an efficient and optimised distribution of liquids in the Acquisition Distribution Layer (ADL) via capillary channels) and the Bramante fibre (which can store up to 260% of its own weight of liquids in chambers inside the fibre).
Kelheim’s fibres can also be processed in the textile sector, to enable solutions in the field of reusable hygiene products such as menstrual underwear.
All these fibres are already commercially available. Kelheim Fibres is cooperating with an innovative AHP manufacturer and an innovative nonwoven supplier to incorporate the fibres into new end products.
The Bavarian viscose speciality fibres manufacturer Kelheim Fibres has partnered with the European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing (ETP) in two strategic programs: “Bio-Based Fibres” and “Circular Economy”.
Against the backdrop of the increasingly important sustainability debate, fundamental changes inside the textile supply chain are taking place. The two three-year ETP programmes “Bio-Based Fibres” and “Circular Economy” are a clear response to this. The goal is to bring key players from industry and science together to develop a long-term strategy to actively shape the sustainable realignment of the European textile industry.
“We have been manufacturing bio-based fibres for almost 85 years – these fibres are made from the renewable material wood and they are fully biodegradable at the end of their product lifecycle. As an alternative to crude-oil based materials, these fibres are becoming increasingly popular in various applications. Part of the reason for this is the fact that we can functionalize our speciality fibres during the production process and give them the exact properties that are required for different end uses. In terms of performance, they can keep up with synthetic materials”, explains Dr. Marina Crnoja-Cosic, head of New Business Development at Kelheim Fibres.
But Kelheim’s sustainability criteria also include the full life cycle of their products: When a textile, after its use, can become the raw material for new fibres and new products, for Crnoja-Cosic that is a huge advantage in terms of sustainability. “We want the best possible result – bio-based fibres AND circular economy are the way to get there.”
The European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing (ETP) is the largest European network for the promotion of textile research and innovation. It brings together over 200 members from industry, research, higher education, clusters, associations and textile-related sectors.
Trend scanning and monitoring is an indispensable approach in not only passively waiting for the future, but in actively shaping it and in spotting the key developments leading to tomorrow. Already knowing today how consumer and customer needs might change in the future, taking into account different influencing factors, allows us to already start to think through and target the appropriate solutions for future challenges now.
With the newly integrated New Business Development division Kelheim Fibres puts an even stronger emphasis on this forward-looking perspective.
In a one-and-a-half-day workshop under the leadership of our NBD team, we at Kelheim Fibres brought the topic of trend monitoring to life, using the example of prevailing and current consumer trends. We looked at a wide range of trends in interdisciplinary teams and assessed the impact they have on the various players along the value chain. The central question was how to get prepared for the behaviour and desires of future customers in order to provide the right solutions and what innovative ideas we can create in yet unexplored fields.
In creative processes, we discovered unexplored areas which are not within the scope of daily business and which offer us the opportunity to look at the future from other perspectives.
This look ahead is an integral part of our approach to innovation. This workshop takes our innovation journey into a new dimension, which we will in future expand with new perpectives together with our partners and customers.
The Bavarian viscose speciality fibre manufacturer Kelheim Fibres has achieved a leading score in Canopy’s 2020 Hot Button Report. Kelheim Fibres ranks overall among the top 5 producers and was even able to improve their good previous year’s result.
While the company – as in 2019 – is assessed as “low risk” of sourcing from Ancient & Endangered Forests, Kelheim is proud to have invested significantly in “Next Generation Fibre Solutions,” and hopes to reach commercial scale by 2025. Also, highlighted in the report is Kelheim’s increase of the proportion of FSC® certified fibre.
Kelheim has accepted the recommendation to develop an action plan for continuous improvement of their sustainability: With a certification according to ISO 50001 (energy management), certification according to EMAS (expected at the end of 2020), the application to join ZDHC (Roadmap to Zero) and the newly created position of a sustainability manager, the viscose fibre experts have accomplished a considerable success in a short space of time.
“Canopy’s Hot Button Report not only stands for ethically correct raw material sourcing – it is an overall sustainability indicator for viscose fibre producers.”, so Matthew North, Commercial Director at Kelheim Fibres. “We are proud of our ranking and will follow this path further: Our fibres offer an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic materials. That includes certified sustainable raw material sourcing, resource saving and low-emission production processes as well as the continuous search for improvements and future-oriented solutions. “
Kelheim Fibres has been selected as a finalist for the Sustainability Heroes Award in the category “Sustainable Innovation”. The award is presented by DQS (German Association for Sustainability) and DGQ (German Association for Quality) to pioneers in sustainability and aims to further encourage active involvement in this field.
The viscose speciality fibres manufacturer has secured the selection with its innovative plant-based fibres that can substantially contribute to a plastic-free future in absorbent hygiene products such as femcare or incontinence products.
In contrast to other plant-based fibres, viscose fibres can be precisely modified and functionalised during the production process. They can be adapted to meet the exact requirements of the single components of a hygiene product in terms of their liquid management properties (from water repellent to highly absorbent) and so match the performance of synthetic fibres that are still used in the majority of these single-use products.
Whereas today, environmentally conscious consumers must often decide between feeling safe and a clear conscience, the Bavarian fibre experts are actively developing more and more products that do justice to both: Kelheim combines sustainably manufactured and completely biodegradable fibres with the technical performance of synthetic fibres. The aim is to help to reduce the use of crude-oil-based plastics in single-use products and their negative impact on the environment.