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Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Sustainable hygiene products made with natural materials or bio-based plastics

Sustainable substrates can be bio-based, recycled, or biodegradable. Natural-based substrates include cotton, bamboo, and trees and wood.
5 min.

After a first general overview of the various possibilities of bio-based materials in sustainable hygiene products, we will take a closer look at different sustainable substrates. Such substrates can be used for all kinds of hygienic products, such as baby diapers, femcare or incontinence products.

There is a broad range of different natural substrates:

  • Cotton
  • Viscose / Bamboo
  • Tissue / Cellulose
  • Bio-PE (Sugar Cane; Corn)
  • PLA (Corn; Starch)

If you want to produce sustainable hygiene products using sustainable substrates, it is important to know the more diverse the substrates being used, the more demanding requirements on the bonding mechanism.

To ensure the best quality and product performance in addition to improving sustainability, you should involve your  adhesive supplier when redesigning the hygiene product.

Natural substrates: from source to sustainable hygiene materials

illustration natural substances for sustainable hygiene

Bio-based plastics: from source to sustainable hygiene materials

illustration bio-based plastics for sustainable hygiene

Adhesives are key to leveraging natural materials in sustainable hygiene products

Consumers are having a strong positive impression of natural materials like cotton and bamboo and are attracted by their promise at the point of sale. Natural based substrates are often considered to be purer and more skin friendly next to offer a benefit in sustainability impact.

Cotton is characterized by high softness and good absorption - one part of cotton can absorb up to 24 parts of water. That’s why it is optimal for use in sustainable hygiene products.

At the same time, cotton is breathable, compostable / biodegradable under aerobic conditions and originating from a renewable source.

cotton field with blue sky and some clouds in the background
bamboo plant

Bamboo fiber is a cellulose fiber extracted from the bamboo plant. It is characterized by high absorption, while being soft and flexible. Bamboo is not only a very fast-growing raw material (3-4 months), it also absorbs two times as much CO2 from the air as trees and at the same time produces 30% more oxygen. After use, bamboo fiber naturally degrades. In personal hygiene products it used mainly for the production of core fluff and in the nonwoven fabric.

Made from the fibers of wood and cotton, tissue / cellulose films are sometimes used for wrapping of the core of diapers. Additionally, wood pulp is the major sustainable materials used in hygiene products as ingredient in the core for absorption.

These are just three possibilities to replace existing components in hygiene products with natural substrates. Due to the special properties of natural substrates, the choice of the right adhesive for production is elementary.

green forest

Sustainable hygiene products through bio-based plastics

Polymer granulate on hand hotmelt, low pressure molding

Bio-based plastics are made from corn or sugar cane and have normally a significantly lower carbon footprint than fossil-based plastics, but in many cases offer the same properties in terms of transparency, gloss and stiffness. Bio-based plastics can be, but not necessarily are, biodegradable or compostable and are used, for example, in the backsheets of diapers.

Bio-based polylactic acid (PLA) is one of the most important biodegradable and biobased thermoplastics and are derived from renewable resources such as corn starch, tapioca or sugar cane via fermentation of starch (dextrose). PLA spunlace & spunbond nonwoven are used in the topsheet, backsheet and core. PLA offers sustainable benefits such as low carbon footprint, from a renewable source and is also industrially compostable.

The perfect bond for sustainable hygiene products: hot melt adhesives

With the right hot melt adhesive, the most demanding bonding tasks can easily be fulfilled thanks to adhesives‘ excellent flexibility.


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    Adhesives are crucial to the construction and design of personal hygiene products. Adhesives must work across diverse substrates to ensure security, softness, absorption, and comfort.

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    Sustainable bio-based adhesives

    Bio-based adhesives increase the usage of sustainable materials in products. Henkel’s recent innovation, TECHNOMELT DM ECO, offers 70% bio-based content for maximum performance and purity.

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    Sustainable hygiene production process

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