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New Absorbing Materials and
Technologies for Feminine Hygiene
Products with Reduced Waste


Project background

Disposable feminine care pads were developed at the beginning of the 20th century. In recent years, the increasing consumer focus on sustainable products is contributing to the growing popularity of bio-based super-absorbent polymers, which are generally based on modified cellulose, chitin and natural gums (guar, alginates and xanthan). These products are an eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to various non-renewable petroleum-based materials, but their high costs and/or low performance have greatly limited their market potential. Research and development carried out by the project beneficiary over the past 10 years has addressed these problems, designing an experimental multilayer structure where the bio-based super absorbents can be positioned in the middle of the product according to desired patterns.

Project objectives

The overall objectives of the SUSTABS project are to demonstrate that the new bio-based multi-layer material concept and technology for disposable feminine care pads, can meet product requirements (absorbption dryness, flexibility, comfort, etc.), improving the cost/benefit ratio while at the same time greatly re the use of material and volume.

  • Environmentally: the manufacturing of the new disposable absorbents offers benefits in terms of reduction of material usage and volume. Improvements are targeted in overall lifecycle per in terms of: (i) less packaging; (ii) replace of oil-based materials by high performance bio-based alternatives; (iii) reduced transport; and (iv) improved ‘end of life’ product phase;
  • Regarding Policy and Market, the beneficiary wishes to show how product optimization, eco-design and bio-based materials can pay-off in terms of sustainability performance and competitiveness. This project should provide a demonstration case for the wider chemical industry and other related industries to support the reduction of their environmental and economical impact.


Name of beneficiary

Procter & Gamble Italia S.p.A.

Postal address
Viale Giorgio Ribotta 11
IT - 00144 Roma

Duration of project:
36 months (01/09/2011 - 01/09/2014)

Generic theme:
Clean technologies


Expected results:
The project expects to:

  • Reduce the percentage of volume and mass of the absorbent core material by up to 20-30% with a consequent benefit in terms of waste disposal and a 20% reduction in the required packaging material;
  • Decrease emissions related to transport (up to 10% reduction in the usage of the number of trucks per year), packaging (up to 20-25% with respect to the current packaging material usage) and disposal phases;
  • Improve the amount of renewable resources used (up to 20%) thanks to the introduction of bio-based polymers, which will reduce the oil based materials of the multilayer structure. This approach will increase the sustainability of industrial production without jeopardizing the technological performance of the final product;
  • Reduce the percentage of cellulose used from a current average percentage of about 50% to below 30% through the introduction of Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP) and bio-based menses super absorbents;
  • Reduce the level of overall water consumption related to its production process.

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