SINGAPORE, Oct. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a 2015 UNICEF study, although over 88% of the world's population currently has access to safe drinking water, the same cannot be said about hygiene in living conditions. Only 39% reside in conditions that can be considered fully safe, and a further 29% barely meet basic hygiene1 requirements. While the situation has improved in the last decade or so, there is room for improvement. Dow, with its innovative products and solutions, seeks to make a difference. One of the most significant inventions over the last century in the category of hygiene products is diapers. Dow enables manufacturers around the world to produce the best, safest and most comfortable diapers for the consumers.
Softness, comfort, functionality, fit, aesthetics, and sustainability are the ongoing trends in the hygiene absorbent products industry. Powered by advanced developments in material science, Dow's global team of health and hygiene product experts passionately seek out ways to provide people with softer, more comfortable essential products that feel and fit better - adding convenience in their everyday active lives.
Hygiene Products - A Long History of Innovation and Evolution
Named as one of the top 100 inventions of the 20th century, the diaper has evolved from plant leaves to animal skin before it became the modern day hygiene solution that we know now.
In the mid-19th century, the Industrial Revolution brought about manufacturing of cheap cotton fabrics and people began to use cotton cloth for babies' hygiene demands. However, traditional cotton diapers had to be changed frequently to prevent leakages, and thorough washing, rinsing, cleaning, and drying was a hassle but necessary process to prevent bacteria growth.
Since being introduced in the 1930s, disposable diapers went through tremendous advancement throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Today's diapers have liberated caregivers from an agonizing chore. Even as the primary task of diapers is to absorb the liquid, parents hop through many different brands and models using a complex set of parameters in choosing the right diapers. In addition to the functional performance of the ideal diaper, which will "protect" your baby all night, the baby's comfort and the caring "touch" on the baby's skin matter just as much. From diapers that look like trendy "pants" with adorable graphics to long-lasting ones that endure up to 12 hours, diapers have really come off age in every sense.
While diapers are most commonly worn by and associated with babies and young children, they are also used by adults for a variety of reasons. Usually referred to as 'adult absorbent briefs', they are commonly used by those with medical conditions causing urinary or fecal incontinence, limited consciousness, or constrained mobility. However, even for senior citizens in society who are leading active lifestyles, adult diapers offer them a much important sense of "relief" - ensuring mobility and activity without unnecessary worries.
A fast-growing market that offers a world of potential
Given invaluable convenience and comfort offered by disposable diapers, it is hardly surprising that the demand is growing. Price Hanna, in its most recent global hygiene report, forecasts the 2019 global hygiene absorbent product volume to reach 668.4 billion units. That number, rising around 5.8% per annum from 2014, marks strong growth potential in this market.2
Asia Pacific, the region driving global demand growth, has witnessed a gradual yet steady rise in standard of living. Massive migration of people from rural to urban regions, coupled with improved purchasing power have driven strong growth for modern utilities and products. China, for instance, will witness more than a third of its population rising to above-average income category by 2030, taking consumer spending to the level now seen in the European Union, predicted by the Economist. Currently, over 90% of babies between the age of 0-2 use disposable diapers in the medium-to-large sized cities, a strong indication for future growth potential.3 A similar trend is observed in other Asian markets like Indonesia, Vietnam and particularly India.
Dow Hygiene Solutions: Softer, More Comfortable, and Breathable Too
Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics offers unique knowledge, experience and a broad portfolio of innovative material solutions to help deliver exceptional hygiene solutions with improved performance and value.
The contemporary disposable diaper is composed of five layers, including top sheet, distribution layer, absorbent core, back sheet barrier film, and nonwoven back sheet. The top sheet is mainly made of non-woven materials or aperture film and comes in direct contact with the skin. The distribution layer accelerates the absorption and distribution of fluid. The absorbent core is made of pulp, water-absorbing polymers, and composite fiber – this layer is used to absorb and retain fluid. Back sheets prevent the fluid from permeating. For each of these layers, Dow employs outstanding technologies and solutions to meet the expectations of the consumers.
Dow has dedicated expertise in softer, more cloth-like nonwoven materials. ASPUN™ Fiber Resins increase softness and comfort while maintaining strength, abrasion resistance in fabrics such as bico-spunbond nonwovens and mono polyethylene (PE) spunbond nonwoven. Dow also newly launched ASPUN™ MB Meltblown Fiber Resins globally in 2017. This resin can be used for melt blown layer and significantly improves the softness of bi-co SMS nonwoven As a result, this new, patent-pending family of PE resins produced using INSITE™ Technology from Dow is an ideal solution for nonwovens in infant diapers, feminine napkin and adult incontinence products, medical drapes and garments, and filtration products.
INFUSE™ Olefin Block Copolymers are a family of groundbreaking resins that offer the perfect blend of flexibility, elasticity, toughness and haptics. They also bring along the level of processability previously assumed unattainable with olefin-based elastomers. Diapers that are well-fitting are extremely important for infants whose movements will be hampered by weight. For adults, fitter diapers are preferred for their discreet nature – ensuring comfort and function at the same time.
INFUSE™ Olefin Block Copolymers can provide unique solution for elastic film, elastic laminates and elastic nonwoven in hygiene products.
DOWLEX™ Linear Low-density Polyethylene Resins and ELITE™ Enhanced Polyethylene Resins are excellent choices for breathable and non-breathable backsheet film. DOWLEX™ Linear Low-density Polyethylene Resins, the mainstay product in back sheet technology, has enabled converters to downgauge without sacrificing overall performance, ensuring excellent toughness as well as tear and puncture resistance. ELITE™ Enhanced Polyethylene Resins – a single material solution that combines properties of strength and softness – also offers high puncture resistance, tensile performance and superb processability.
The Future of Hygienic products: Reliable and Personal
The market for hygiene products has tremendous potential to grow in business volume, product performance and innovation parameters. Currently, multinational brands occupy most of the market but while these international players bolster their efforts to offer more differentiated and niche products, new and emerging players are also seeking to gain market share.
As the trusted partner for industry players across the domain, Dow's strategic alignment with current and future industry trends puts them in an advantageous position to collaborate with manufacturers to develop an exclusive range of innovative solutions. Dow's deep comprehension of the market and technology, complemented by their relentless focus on in-depth customer needs and their evolving expectations, will empower them to value-add and customize to offer comfortable and diversified products with superior service concept and compassionate care.
1 WHO/UNICEF JMP Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: 2017 Update and SDG Baseline
2 Price Hanna Report: Global Summary of Hygiene Absorbent Product Volumes by Region (2019 Forecast – Billions of Product Units in Regions Consumed)
3China's middle class to rise to more than third of population by 2030, research firm says
China will be middle-income by 2030, with spending on cars, luxuries, health to rise
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