We work with one industry that tends to fly under the public radar, yet its products are omnipresent in our daily lives. Diapers, fabrics for car seats, face masks…these are just some of the common products manufactured by the nonwovens industry. The voice of that industry in Europe is EDANA.

EDANA represents over 300 companies in the nonwovens and related industries. These include producers of diapers, adult incontinence, and feminine hygiene products and their suppliers. It offers its members a range of services to enhance the industry’s goals and performance. Overall, EDANA aims to “create an environment beneficial to innovation and to sustainable and profitable growth.”

A longstanding partnership for sustainability

Sustenuto has supported EDANA’s sustainable development over the past five years. Our services included the development of a fully-fledged sustainability vision and strategy for the nonwovens sector. Part of this was carrying out a materiality analysis as well as consultations with members and external stakeholders such as NGOs, government organisations, and expert organisations.

As EDANA’s role is to help the industry achieve its sustainability goals in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the resulting Sustainability Vision 2030 gives clear insight into the priority topics for the nonwovens industry. These topics guide members to “identify their priorities and further develop their own sustainability strategy.” (EDANA)

Besides vision and strategy development, Sustenuto frequently gives keynotes at nonwovens industry conferences, and assists EDANA with sustainability reporting. For the first report, we also set indicators that assess the results of each sustainability action.

Another major project for the Sustenuto team was the elaboration of one of EDANA’s four key areas: “Building Trust”.

The challenge: Building trust

Nonwovens are present in a vast array of products for human use. It is therefore essential that consumers trust the industry. To this purpose, EDANA works on increasing transparency and safeguarding the quality of nonwoven products.

The “Building Trust” programme of EDANA encourages its members to:

  • Act as guardians of the quality of their products and the materials used.
  • Communicate transparently about the content and composition of the products.
  • Build credibility through external verification.
  • Commit to upholding certain standards and guarantees.

On top of product stewardship, transparent communication, and third-party endorsement, EDANA aims to build trust through voluntary codes of conducts.

In the context of its Sustainability Vision 2030, EDANA wanted the nonwovens industry to go beyond the current legislation by adding extra social and environmental values to its products.

Our approach: Developing new quality standards

In response, Sustenuto supported EDANA to develop an industry charter. The charter focuses specifically on Absorbent Hygiene Products (AHP), with the aim to limit the presence of chemical impurities that could be found in products such as tampons and sanitary towels.

Concretely, we developed the base framework that an industry charter should comply with, facilitated multiple AHP Steering Committee meetings on this topic, and organised an extensive stakeholder engagement.

The whole sector got involved in the exercise, including nonwovens members, research and academic institutes, and public entities. The resulting charter takes the application of quality standards to a new level, creating more transparency on product quality and consequently building credibility towards the market.

The result: A voluntary code of conduct for the nonwovens industry

As part of its “Building Trust” programme, EDANA wanted the nonwovens industry to go beyond the existing legislation to uphold product quality and build consumer trust. By means of a thorough stakeholder engagement programme, Sustenuto helped them develop an industry charter that meets these requirements.

The industry charter serves as a voluntary code of conduct that stimulates EDANA’s members to further develop safety evaluation programmes, systematically monitor product use, and consider consumer concerns (EDANA). It is a global commitment, whereby signatories pledge to continuously safeguard the quality and safety of Absorbent Hygiene Products.

Gil Stevens, external relations and sustainability director at EDANA: “Thanks to the support of Sustenuto, EDANA has been able to develop a clear sustainability vision. This has really put us on the path as an industry to take further joint actions, such as new voluntary codes of conduct.”