Technical Textiles 3/2021: Index 20: a window...
Technical Textiles 3/2021

Index 20: a window of opportunity for reinforcing public trust in nonwovens?

Pierre Wiertz
Pierre Wiertz

“While the world seems to be clouded by mistrust and misinformation, there is a glimmer of hope in business. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer shows that business is not only the most trusted institution among the 4 studied, but it is also the only trusted institution with a 61 % trust level globally, and the only institution seen as both ethical and competent.”

Let’s talk about this at Index 20 on October 19-22, 2021. Recent interactions have led me to conclude there now seems to be a window of opportunity – perhaps a unique one – for business in general and our category of industries in particular to benefit from unprecedented consumer and citizen confidence. Whereas the daily and widespread use of face masks (not always recognized as nonwovens-based) will be followed by habits of just keeping some handy in case, there are increasing signs that the new awareness of the necessity of higher indoor air quality (both in terms of dust particles and micro-organisms) will drive a higher growth than ever in nonwovens filter media in both household and institutional systems.

With the increased awareness of hygiene and barrier gestures, there must be new ways of demonstrating again the value and – to a large extent – irreplaceable character of the single-use (aka the single-patient) concept. In terms of transparency and factual communication on sustainability, there are perhaps examples to be found in other sectors of application of nonwovens. Freudenberg Performance Materials has just launched an eco-calculator to “help customers assess the suitability of its nonwovens microfilament solutions for bedding and bath towels”. This looks like an ambitious and valuable initiative.

Admittedly, the road will still be long and tortuous on the way to a successful and convincing industry communication based on science. This is what many Edana working groups – from developing test methods for trace chemicals in hygiene products to helping define how to communicate on bio-based and renewable material contents in products – will continue to do to support member companies in their efforts to build trust. If, as indicated by the Edelman Trust Barometer, business is “the only institution seen as both ethical and competent” (and now, significantly more than NGO’s!), we should not miss that opportunity.

After all, isn’t this what Edana member companies have been looking for in the last 50 years or so? A body that helps give its members the common reputation of being both ethical and competent businesses, shouldn’t that be the on-going vision of Edana for the next 50 years, too?

The occasion of our 50th anniversary has caused us to reflect on our achievements with some pride. We also strongly believe that looking back and honoring achievements bears even more significance if one draws lessons and projections from the past, which shed light on likely future developments and how to adapt to new challenges, or, in other words, to stay relevant to our members.

Throughout our service to the industry during those 50 years, we have learned a number of things that have maintained and developed parts of Edana’s generally acknowledged DNA, that makes it, hopefully, an ever more flexible, agile and responsive organization. That DNA, of course, has its origin in the very nature of nonwovens, their versatile and, perhaps, revolutionary character and applications, the resilience of their development and growth throughout the crises of the past 5 decades.

A strong part of Edana’s DNA remains its focus, virtually from the very beginning, on product stewardship, and even before the word was coined, on sustainability. For example, the very first guidelines for environmentally-sound manufacture of nonwovens were published at the beginning of the early 1990s, with the first Edana-sponsored LCA study launched in 1994.

More than ever, to build or reinforce trust (in institutions, in government, in product safety, in corporations etc.), transparency, science-based facts and dialogue are essential. Together with the Board of Edana, this will be the on-going mission statement of the team.

And of course, we continue to do all we can to facilitate this dialogue as we warmly look forward to in-person events again. In the past couple of months we have hosted 2 very successful online events, with Outlook and the International Nonwovens Symposium gathering nearly 800 nonwovens professionals between them. It was a rewarding experience for all involved. However, it is still not an adequate substitute for in-person interactions.

A common closing remark at both of our recent virtual events was how much people are looking forward to meeting friends, colleagues and peers again. We are therefore very much looking forward to the upcoming edition of the Index, the key nonwovens tradeshow. Its long, successful history has cemented its position as the largest global meeting place for the nonwovens market. Postponed from 2020, this edition will provide an interesting opportunity to explore the industry’s latest innovations and connect with like-minded professionals, and all of this with the crucial human elements restored. We look forward to welcoming the wider nonwovens community to Geneva/Switzerland in October!
Pierre Wiertz
General Manager
Edana Brussel

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