Bemliese™ redefines sustainable beauty
With the pandemic slowly drifting into our rearview mirrors as vaccinations become more accessible to people in North America, production supply of sterilization materials, gauze, and other single-use fabrics continues to lag behind. This is not just an issue we are seeing in our grocery stores, but in optometrist offices and other medical facilities as well. Conversely, we are seeing abundant quantities of masks that have been over-produced in response to the needs of a waning era. This poses the question: What will happen to all these masks? The truth is, most of these masks are made with types of plastic that will not easily biodegrade and likely be sitting in landfills for the rest of our lives. This will shed light on the importance of quickly biodegradable disposable materials as sustainability initiatives become more and more in scope for businesses in North America and around the world.
Cotton is very common for producing clothing and soft fabrics, but there are fuzzy fibers around cotton seeds that are equally important – cotton linter. Through science, this linter can be used to make a material, Bemliese™, that when soaked in water is even softer than cotton and perfect for skincare. Without water, this material can clean sensitive and high-precision technology, from microscope lenses and laboratory equipment to aircraft manufacturing. This linter from cotton seeds was traditionally thrown away in the manufacturing process, and now has been converted to roughly 3% of the total yield. This cotton linter-based fabric has since been certified for industrial compost, home compost, soil biodegradability, and marine biodegradability by TÜV AUSTRIA Belgium NV, the globally recognized organization that certifies product biodegradation. TÜV is the only organization that currently offers the marine biodegradability certification, thus Bemliese™ has been proven friendly both on land and at sea.
In this biodegradability test, the Bemliese™ nonwoven fabric was mixed with compost and incubated in a dark place at the temperature of 28° Celsius (82.4° Farenheit). The water content was checked regularly and adjusted as needed. The compost was regularly stirred and visual verification was taken of the state of decomposition for the fabric. This illustrates just how quickly Bemliese™ can biodegrade.
Bemliese™ has obtained “OK compost INDUSTRIAL,” “OK compost HOME,” “OK biodegradable SOIL,” and “OK biodegradable MARINE” international certifications from TÜV AUSTRIA Group. TÜV is the leading independent Testing, Inspection, and Certification company covering industry, energy, infrastructure, transportation, certification, training and digital services with +2,000 experts in +20 countries.
Dry vs Wet
When dry, Bemliese™ leaves virtually no lint, scratches, or chemicals on the surfaces it touches, making it an ideal material for cleaning equipment in industrial, laboratory, or medical environments that must remain contamination-free. Its high purity keeps the material free from excess oils or chemicals that may be inherent in similar materials. It also has a higher rate of absorbency than cotton gauze, rayon/PET, or nonwoven cotton.
On the other hand, unlike cotton, a sheet of Bemliese™ becomes extraordinarily soft after moistening and drapes well over any surface it touches with little to no abrasion. Its extraordinary absorption of moisture and ability to hold onto tiny particles makes it an ideal material for hygienic applications or medical sterilization. When soaked, it can grip the surface of an object tightly and hold the material in place while it dries. The reclaimed cellulose filament structure created by using cotton linter as a material provides a much higher level of liquid retention than regular cotton.
This impurity extration test exemplifies the sheer purity of Bemliese™. This test involves the dissolution of impurities, such as surface agents, when soaked in water.
Cosmetic facial masks made from Bemliese™ have made waves in sustainable beauty throughout Asia, attracting world-class cosmetics developers like L’Oréal and KOSÉ Group with its unrivaled absorbency and performance. These face sheets made from cotton linter absorb and hold formulas that rejuvenate skin far more efficiently and stick to every contour of the face from the moment it touches the skin and stays in place. This allows for the even application of formula to the skin, yielding superior results. In addition, unlike traditional face sheets that commonly contain plastics, those made from cotton linter tout a 100% natural source, clean production, and fast biodegradability that has resonated in the industry where consumers have begun abandoning their usual products in favor of those that are more environmentally friendly.
When wet, Bemliese™ has unparalleled adhesive properties that conform to the intricate contours of any object and stay in place on the surface, making it the perfect material for facial masks and makeup wipes. Bemliese™ redefined sustainable beauty in Asia, and Asahi Kasei Advance America is now facilitating its distribution for innovation in the US.
Ms. Uchida continues, “I can’t wait to see our sustainable skincare masks in Europe and North America. They’ve made a huge splash in Asia, and I know that new potentials are just waiting to be unlocked. It’s our dream for Bemliese™ to be loved around the world for its contributions to the industry.” Asahi Kasei has been manufacturing this one-of-a-kind fabric for roughly 50 years, which makes Bemliese™ an unsung hero for sustainability.
Chad Provonsha, Director of Sales and Marketing at Asahi Kasei Advance America, also has high hopes for the reception of Bemliese™ in North America. "Its application possibilities are endless and because it is a one-of-a-kind material that not only shows superior performance, but also is virtually 100% biodegradable within four weeks, we look forward to new innovations that will stem from its introduction to the US market." This unique material is sure to spur innovation in North America. It is exciting to imagine what is in store for Bemliese™ in the near future, and Asahi Kasei Advance America is here to help facilitate it along the way.