Nonwovens are high-tech engineered fabrics made from a variety of different fibres and are used in both consumer and industrial applications, like disinfectant cleaning wipes. Most of the fibres used in the nonwovens industry today are either synthetic or semi-synthetic and are major contributors to waste. Now a new wave of natural material manufacturers are looking to hemp as a means of creating natural, plastic free alternatives.
Canadian-based Bast Fibre Technologies Inc. (BFTi), is a natural fibre engineering firm focussed on the nonwovens industry, using hemp-derived natural fibre technology.
In June the company announced a $4.5M CAD equity financing designed to scale up its technology and improve the availability of the company’s proprietary hemp-based non-woven fabrics.
BFTi develops, manufactures and markets IP protected enhancements for hemp, flax and other bast fibres; and delivers these fibres to high-value consumer and industrial product markets. BFTi’s proprietary processes allow the transformation of annually renewable bast fibre feedstock from a variety of sources into high-performance, luxe-quality, eco-friendly (biodegradable, compostable, plastic/microplastic free) end products in the nonwovens market.
Bast fibre is the outer material of the stem of bast plants, one of which is hemp. Part of the function of these fibres is to give the plants strength and in the case of hemp can be metres long. The fibres can be cut to size to suit the application.
BFTi’s fibres are completely natural, plastic free, fully compostable, sourced from an annually renewable crop, and provide a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, BFTi’s proprietary fibres offer enhanced performance characteristics when compared with traditional synthetic and semi-synthetic fibres.
Nonwoven products are ubiquitous in daily life and include absorbent hygiene products, disinfectant cleaning wipes, personal care wipes and makeup removers. According to reports 11 billion cleaning wipes are used every year globally, across an industry that is set to be worth $20 billion by 2021. Most of the fibres used in the nonwovens industry today are either synthetic or semi-synthetic and are major contributors to landfills and ocean microplastic contamination.
The opportunity and benefit of producing natural alternatives is significant.
“Since our founding in 2016, BFTi has been driven to perfect our natural fibre technology and establish a robust IP suite,” said Noel Hall, Chairman and CEO of BFTi. “The company is now ready to take the next step and begin the commercial phase of our growth. This financing will allow us to complete trial work with our customers, file additional IP and finish the build-out of a dedicated bast fibre processing facility. BFTi is well placed to meet the sustained demand for disinfecting wipes created by the Covid-19 pandemic, at a time when new legislation forthcoming in multiple jurisdictions requires a shift from synthetic to natural fibres.”
The investment in Bast Fibre Technologies included funding from Natural Products Canada (NPC), an Innovation Cluster comprising a strategic community of SMEs, research institutes, corporations, investors, government departments, and others who support the development and commercialization of naturally-derived products and technologies that can be applied to a broad range of industries.
Commenting on the outlook for BFTi Shelley King, CEO of NPC, said “Our investment is crucial to furthering BFTi’s mission to displace synthetic and semi-synthetic fibres in the nonwovens industry, and to help create single-use products that are both environmentally and economically sustainable,”
“Most of the hemp grown in Canada today is used for CBD production or as a seed crop for food. BFTi will play an important role in building long-term demand for hemp straw and realizing the vision of whole hemp plant utilization.”
Source | Bast Fibre Technologies