Sustainability considerations in the development of materials intended for an absorbent hygiene product
Conference poster, 2009
WooDi, the Wood based Diaper, is a research collaboration between industry and university. The research has a specific focus on replacing non-renewable materials in the absorbent structure of an incontinence diaper, while ensuring that the new product is also more sustainable than a reference diaper. The work packages in the project focus on forming networks of fibres with tailored properties, characterisation of the networks, designing the production process, and assessing sustainability of the life-cycle of the diapers and guiding the material and product development process through important sustainability considerations.
For the new wood fibre based material that is being developed, the properties are yet unknown and production, use and disposal of the product can thus not yet be defined, which is normal in a material development project. Important sustainability considerations will be visualised at the start of the project and thereafter continuously assessed and refined in an iterative process. This calls for the development of an iterative methodology for sustainability assessment that can guide the project through this process with an increasing level of accuracy and detail over time. A few generic frameworks for sustainability assessment in product development have been suggested in literature [1, 2], but actual case studies that show successful implementation are not yet available. In the WooDi project, a well functioning communication between different stakeholders in the project and a project group with knowledge from different areas will ensure that innovative ideas based on best available knowledge can be created and developed in consideration of relevant sustainability aspects.
1. Holmberg, J., U. Lundqvist, and K.-H. Robert, An approach to sustainable product development relevant to small and medium-sized enterprises. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and the Environment, ed. R. Hillary. 2000: Greenleaf Publishing, Sheffield, UK.
2. Byggeth, S., G. Broman, and K.-H. Robèrt, A method for sustainable product development based on a modular system of guiding questions. Journal of Cleaner Production, 2007. 15(1): p. 1-11.
Acknowledgement – Financial support from Vinnova, SCA Hygiene Products AB and Södra Cell AB is greatly appreciated