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Georgia-Pacific and Bast Fibre Technologie agree global licensing deal for nonwoven sustainable fibre applications
Canada-based Bast Fibre Technologies and Georgia-Pacific have entered into a global licensing agreement for a suite of patents related to the application of intact plant-based bast fibres in a variety of nonwoven products and processes.
Within the terms of the agreement, under licence from Georgia-Pacific, BFTi will develop, process and market the next generation of sustainable nonwoven fibres aiming to lead the industry in the transition away from synthetic materials toward all-natural, better performing solutions.
Bast fibre, also called phloem fibre, is collected intact from the inner bark of the bast family group of plants including hemp, flax, jute and kenaf. The essential role of the fibre in the plant's lifecycle - the transportation of nutrients while supporting the structure of the plant - also provides key performance benefits such as high natural absorbency and wet strength, critical for many nonwoven products.
Nonwovens are high tech engineered fabrics made from many different fibres and used in both consumer and industrial applications. Nonwoven products are found in almost every aspect of daily life and society including absorbent hygiene products, cleaning wipes and tea bags.
With many countries set to introduce strict legislation aimed at significantly reducing single-use plastics, the nonwoven industry recognises the urgent need to find alternative fibres that are natural and fully sustainable. Most of the fibre used in the nonwoven industry today is either synthetic or semi-synthetic. Enhanced labelling requirements will soon inform buyers in many countries about the appropriate disposal of synthetic nonwovens and the negative impacts single-use plastics have on the environment.
"Over the last few years we have been working very closely with our farming and supply chain partners who share our goal of transitioning the nonwoven industry away from synthetic fibres to natural bast fibres," says Noel Hall CEO and Chairman BFTi. "Displacing man-made synthetic fibres with all-natural fibres such as hemp requires an intimate knowledge of agronomics, natural fibre processing and deep technical knowledge of both nonwoven manufacturing processes and market opportunities.
"Georgia-Pacific's foresight in recognising the potential of bast fibres in the nonwoven market is to be applauded. Georgia-Pacific appreciated that we were best placed to maximise the global potential of its bast fibre IP while allowing Georgia-Pacific to focus on serving its core customers in the North American food service, industrial and club segments with their own portfolio of bast fibre products."
The recent passing of favourable hemp farming legislation in Canada and the US is expected to provide future hemp fibre supply volumes that will be required to support the transition away from synthetic to natural fibre for many single-use nonwoven markets.
BFTi will be exhibiting and speaking about its fibres at Index 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland, from 31st March – 3rd April 2020.
27th February 2020