Suzano is actively contributing to the creation of a low-carbon economy with its Eucafluff® and has committed to removing 40 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere by 2025.
Globally, around 300 billion period products are used and discarded every year, resulting in millions of tons of sanitary pad waste. In North America alone, around 20 billion period products are disposed of in landfills every year, and around 12 billion of those are menstrual pads. In India, around 15 billion used sanitary pads end up in landfills every year.
Since conventional sanitary pads contain a large amount of non-biodegradable ingredients across different layers, they result in millions of tons of waste that remain unchanged in landfills for around 500-600 years after disposal. To address that issue, Sparkle has designed their products by keeping the entire product life-cycle in mind, right from choosing sustainable ingredients to the product's end-of-life scenario(s) after its disposal.
They started by replacing the conventional plastic from the different layers of the sanitary pad. The top sheet of the Sparkle pad is made from cellulose fibers, the absorbent core is also made from a porous network of cellulose fibers, and the back film is made using TUV Austria certified home compostable materials. As a result, Sparkle plant-based sanitary pads are USDA-Certified Bio-based Products with 86% bio-based content.
The Sparkle pad is designed in such a way that whether it ends up in a landfill, or in an incinerator, or in a compost pit, it offers a more sustainable alternative when compared to its conventional counterpart. When tested according to ISO 14855 (determination of the ultimate aerobic biodegradability of plastic materials under controlled composting conditions) by a leading independent European lab, Sparkle pads reached 90% biodegradation in less than 90 days. According to the standard, the test sample should reach 90% biodegradation in 180 days to pass the test.
When tested according to ISO 16929 (determination of the degree of disintegration of plastic material under defined composting conditions in a pilot-scale test), Sparkle pads reached a disintegration percentage of 100% in less than 8 weeks. According to the standard, 90% of test material should disintegrate and break down into pieces smaller than 2 mm in size after 12 weeks.
Sparkle's 50,000 square feet manufacturing facility is equipped with a fully-automatic Italian production line that can produce over 1 million plant-based pads per day. To ensure that their plant-based products can go back to nature in a sustainable way instead of ending up in landfills or incinerators, Sparkle launched the GreenCycle pilot program in India.
They explored two very different paths for the sustainable disposal of their products - the first one is establishing decentralized industrial composting units where use sanitary pads were collected and composted, and the second one is setting up decentralized biochar production units where used plant-based sanitary pads are transformed into biochar through a pyrolysis process.
Sparkle's R&D Center is conducting groundbreaking research in several areas. They are focusing on utilizing several different natural cellulosic fibers such as bagasse fiber (sugarcane fiber that is a by-product of sugar production), banana fiber (the agro-waste produced during banana farming), jute, hemp, etc. that can offer sustainable and circular alternatives to conventional fibers.