Pierre Wiertz of EDANA outlines steps to redefine Nonwovens
At the Global Nonwovens Summit, which was held in Boston, MA in conjunction with IDEA 2016, EDANA president Pierre Wiertz provided an update on efforts to establish a new definition and classification system for nonwovens. These efforts are being led by a collaboration of EDANA in Europe, INDA in North America and ANFA, the Asian Nonwoven Fabrics Industry
According to Wiertz, the associations started these efforts to reverse the current definition for nonwovens, which define the materials as what they are not (woven) rather than what they are. Also under review is an outdated classification system which groups nonwovens under the textiles umbrella, restricting freedom in raw material usage.
Currently nonwovens and related products are found in many of the World Customization Organization (WCO) harmonization standards codes based on their process type. And, products that use nonwovens—like garments, linens, or hygiene items—are spread across even more categories. This makes tracking trade numbers difficult and often nonwovens face restrictions without reason.
The three associations first met in Shanghai last spring during ANEX and again in Boston last week to discuss this issue. At the GNS, Wiertz unveiled the new definition for nonwovens: “an engineered fibrous assembly which has been given a designed level of structural integrity by physical and/or chemical means with the exclusion of paper, woven or knitted materials.” He told the audience that this new definition will serve as a technical reference and a guideline for use in trade and customs purposes.
Now that the definition has been approved, the journey to a new official classification will not be short. According to Wiertz, there is a five-year window to take the new definition to the World Customs Organization (WCO) and align it with International Standarization Organization (ISO) and Harmonization Standards. He hopes to see this process begin next year and continue until 2022. The groups have already made initial contacts with the WCO and are working with the ISO on creating an alternative solution.
Long term, the goal is to consolidate and harmonize tariff headings to take into account actual product specifications and categories. This may mean creating a dedicated heading for nonwovens outside of textiles or paper. There have already been minor wins—absorbent hygiene products have been taken out of Chapter 48 and grouped together under their own heading, Wiertz added.