Go Wipes 2022 conference summary.
We invite you to a short summary of the Go Wipes 2022 conference, a European meeting of industry experts and producers, of which Ecowipes is a part.
The theme of this year’s conference is sustainable development and responsibility of producers, from nonwovens to finished products.
Ecowipes CEO Gabriel Kermiche believes that “It’s our responsibility to put the environment into concern”.
All participants of the meeting agree that there is no time for greenwashing, and it is necessary to act now and use the solutions that are already available on the market. Collaboration across sectors and real steps towards a sustainable future are important.
?We cannot wait for regulations to appear and make us to do things. We need to do something about the current situation and act now. We need to push retailers and suppliers to attain sustainability. We have personal responsibility to change for the future generations,? comments Ecowipes CEO Gabriel Kermiche.
Plastic-free wipes are becoming more and more visible on the market, although globally they are still a growing segment of wipes. At Ecowipes, we are constantly working to accelerate changes in the market. We can proudly say that we have already made a revolution on the shelves of Polish retail chains and most of the wipes available in our country are already biodegradable, which means plastic-free. Our next goal is to make a difference on store shelves across Europe. We are well on our way to do that.
In the nonwovens segment, there is definitely a growing interest in cellulose pulp. This is supported by environmental benefits and attractive price of this raw material. What the market is just discovering, we at Ecowipes already knew. The biodegradable Tricell nonwoven created by our R&D department, based on cellulose pulp, perfectly fits into the current trends and responds to the needs of the market, which is currently under high price pressure.
?In order to make the environment viable, we need to focus not only on biodegradability, but also on economy and affordable price for consumers of those products. With Tricell we have higher flexibility in price increases, challenging cost increase on the market,? argues Gabriel Kermiche.
Some countries and retail chains are already considering a complete ban on the sale of plastic-containing wipes, and others are already making specific decisions. For example, Tesco, Boots and Aldi have banned the sale of wipes containing plastic on their shelves in every their stores in UK, this ban applies not only to private label products, but also to well-known brands. This change is taking place slowly because there are still fears in the market that there are no alternatives to plastic products. “This is wrong”, believes our CEO Gabriel Kermiche. ?We should be banning plastic-based wipes, as we banned plastic-based buds. Some say there are no widely available alternatives yet. I say – yes, there are!? He argued during his speech on Go Wipes.
Despite the current challenges faced by companies like energy prices, inflation and the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the research organization Smithers estimates that the market for wet wipes will continue to grow 6.9%.
Much attention was also paid to the topic improper disposal of used wipes is a serious economic and environmental problem. Many wipes are dumped down the drain, causing sewer networks to fail. Experts participating in a debate organized during Go Wipes, Lara Wyss from the Responsible Flushing Alliance, Dr Anna Gergely – a specialist in international law and EU regulations, Peter Henley from the Water Research Center UK and our CEO Gabriel Kermiche, drew attention to the need for legible labelling of wipes packages and discussed the topic of flushability, whether positive (fine to flush) or negative (do not flush) messages are better. Together they came to the conclusion that both messages should be used in conjunction with each other, supported by in-depth education and strong responsibility of wipes producers.
?It is very important to differentiate baby wipes from toilet paper. All baby wipes should be considered non-flushable even if they could be flushed. It is a matter of global education and understanding that only paper (dry or wet) can be flushed,? argued Gabriel Kermiche.
Anna mentioned that we as an industry need to be proactive. We can not allow non-scientific voices to dictate how common people should understand the proper disposal of wipes. The European Commission is open to engage the industry in law creation. At the end of the day, the industry needs to solve the problem. Education and regulatory efforts are important. Proper labelling is a must.
Lara also stressed that we need to be consistent and proactive. We need to educate kids, activists, waterworks and legislative parties. We don?t need others to tell our stories. We need to be the storyteller. Speaking in one voice is crucial.
At the end Peter announced that soon a new ?Bin the wipe? campaign will be launch to educate where used wipes should go.
Sustainability and carbon neutrality are the next challenges facing the industry. In order to achieve them, cooperation is needed between all chains within the supply chain (supplier – producer – brand owner). Everyone should be involved in sustainability goals and carbon neutrality. Reducing the carbon footprint can be achieved by reducing consumption, but also compensation programs, i.e. engaging in programs, e.g. forest protection, to compensate for the carbon footprint that cannot be avoided during production.
Responsibility for the environment should not fall only on the producers, but on the entire supply chain.