ExpandFibre Ecosystem project SUSTAFIT works towards   sustainable nonwoven products

ExpandFibre Ecosystem project SUSTAFIT works towards sustainable nonwoven products

Projects 23.03.2023

In the SUSTAFIT research project, Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK), Aalto University and VTT together with 17 companies have joined forces to outline segment-specific sustainability strategies regarding the use of sustainable and recycled fibres, and their processing into non-woven products. We talked to SUSTAFIT Project Manager Virpi Rämö from TAMK, who shared the latest news from the project. 

The SUSTAFIT project was born to meet the industry needs 

As a Senior Lecturer at TAMK for built environment and bioeconomy, Virpi Rämö has been getting enquiries from companies if TAMK has any plans to start education in the field of nonwovens. This signals a clear demand for such expertise within Finnish companies specialised in pulp fibres or nonwovens.  In short, that is the background on how SUSTAFIT project came about: TAMK, Aalto University and VTT started discussing how to build understanding on the jointly identified knowledge gaps and boost the attractiveness of sustainable fibres for nonwoven applications.  

The two-year SUSTAFIT project was kicked off in October 2022, and the research work is supported by 17 companies with a shared interest in nonwovens. According to Virpi Rämö, the project fits like a glove for the Finnish industries, nicely combining forestry and textile industries.  

Focus on three key topics 

The project focuses on three key areas. Firstly, the project members aim to develop the strategic visibility of nonwovens to help companies make decisions on their strategies for nonwovens. Support is indeed welcome, as nonwovens have up to 20 different application areas such as wet wipes of all kinds, filters, and construction materials just to name a few.  Secondly, the project partners explore how to improve the hydrophobicity and antimicrobial properties of pulp cellulose based fibres.  

The third area is dedicated to testing and piloting different raw materials and forming and consolidation techniques to obtain proof-of-concept nonwoven demonstrators. Eyes are also on international service providers who could participate in the piloting activities. 

Project in full speed  

Virpi Rämö is delighted to see the project running at full speed. Several activities and thematic workshops, for example on customer and end-user perspectives, are being planned for the upcoming months.  

As a successful side product of the SUSTAFIT research project, Virpi Rämö also envisions new courses on nonwovens available in Finland. Next autumn, the first course on nonwovens will in fact start in TAMK. Companies as well as raw material actors see high potential for nonwovens in the markets and bringing in more expertise on the topic will, for its part, improve the industry’s competitiveness in Finland.   

SUSTAFIT project partners

The SUSTAFIT research project is funded by  
Business Finland, the research partners Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK), VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Aalto University, and the participating companies. 

Project partners:  
Fortum, Kemira, Lounais-Suomen Jätehuolto, Spinnova, Nordic Bioproducts Group, NordShield, Lixea, UPM, Valmet, Sulzer, Fiber-X, Anpap, SharpCell, Paptic, JedX Medcare, Mirka and Rester. 

More information: SUSTAFIT project website