The market for absorbent hygiene products (AHP), mainly feminine care items (pads, pantyliners) and baby care items products (nappies), is growing worldwide. The AHP sector expects to grow by 8% within the next four years and, because of a lack of recycling systems, it is also anticipated to be one of the waste categories with year on year growth. Europe accounts for over half of the worldwide AHP market, producing around 30 billion items per day. This makes AHP the third largest European consumer item in landfill: as much as 6.5% of the total European landfill and up to 30% of non-biodegradable waste.
The overall aim of the project LIFE EcoCare is to demonstrate that the environmental impacts of AHP can be mitigated significantly by using a new eco-design technology. The project will build upon an eco-design developed in the LIFE CELSTAB project with a new feminine care pad product which has an absorbent core 10-25% smaller. It will use an engineered multilayer structure with high performing superabsorbent polymers, novel cellulose material and EU locally sourcedfibres. The project will explore how this technology can be used in other AHP products, like adult incontinence and baby nappies. Based on experience from LIFE CELSTAB, the product will use sustainable materials rather than fossil-derived substances as in todays AHP products.
The project will contribute to EU policy objectives including the circular economy package, the revised landfill Directive, the bioeconomy strategy and the 2050 low-carbon economy roadmap.