Johns Manville Nonwovens Europe is running extensive programs to boost the use of raw materials from renewable resources and from recycling streams for its products.
"We are clear about our responsibility and recently launched intensive research and development and capital expenditure programs in this area," said Martin Kleinebrecht, head of product management and technology for JM's European Nonwovens business.
One important project is focused on the use of recycled PET (RPET) from the drinking bottle market, giving a PET bottles a long-term second life in a durable applications such as in a DuraSpun carrier for roofing membranes.
"Our RPET usage increases substantially month-by-month in core product lines, while for some other products, like the SpunFil range used for filtration media, we will currently continue to source from 100% virgin material," said Mr. Kleinebrecht. "We understand that a switch to RPET for some applications and special high-end processing conditions will likely not happen in the near future; however, we intend to put significant effort in this area to achieve a medium-term breakthrough."
Another project involves the development of binder systems based on renewable resources. Following comprehensive tests on pilot equipment JM has decided to invest in a new dedicated binder preparation line at its Spunbond site in Bobingen, Germany, that will become fully operational in January 2012. One of Johns Manville's nonwoven plants located in Qingpu, China, has already fully converted to the new technology as of the end of 2010. "Using more and more feedstock from organic ingredients in our products is a cornerstone of our long-term strategy and we will continue to place a high priority on these developments," added Mr. Kleinebrecht. JM's world-class research and development center in Littleton, CO provides strong technical support while JM's European Nonwovens business also has the advantage of the experienced personnel in its technical competence centers located in Bobingen and Wertheim, Germany.
In addition to these projects, JM Nonwovens Europe is working on formaldehyde-free binder systems to meet the increasing demands of customers and end-users in various applications.
"It goes without saying that we must neither compromise on product specifications nor on processing conditions on our customers' lines nor on the product performance in end-use applications," confirmed Kleinebrecht. "Intelligent engineering must be able to combine sustainable product solutions with the high performance and the reliability our customers are used to from our products. We are well equipped to proceed on that path. It is definitely an exciting journey."