2022 article

High-performance sustainable tissue paper from agricultural residue: a case study on fique fibers from Colombia

Kumar, R., Zambrano, F., Peszlen, I., Venditti, R., Pawlak, J., Jameel, H., & Gonzalez, R. (2022, June 28). CELLULOSE.

author keywords: Sustainability; Alternative fibers; Hygiene tissue; Fique fibers; Agricultural residue; NBSK; Tensile strength; Water absorbency; Softness
UN Sustainable Development Goal Categories
2. Zero Hunger (OpenAlex)
Source: Web Of Science
Added: July 5, 2022

Global sustainability megatrends are promoting the utilization of sustainably perceived fibers such as recycled and agricultural residue fibers in hygiene tissue applications. Tissue paper products advertised as sustainable have higher prices and inferior performance than conventional products manufactured from virgin wood fibers. This work demonstrates the feasibility of using agricultural residues from fique plantations (Furcraea microphylla genus) as an alternative to Northern Bleached Softwood Fibers (NBSK) in high-performance hygiene tissue applications. For our study, fiber residues were mechanically cleaned and upgraded to a tissue pulp using a simple pulping and bleaching process. A complete characterization of tissue paper properties (bulk, softness, water absorbency, tensile strength) was performed and compared against the NBSK market pulp. Additionally, fique residue pulp was blended with Bleached Eucalyptus Kraft (BEK) to match the performance of a selected benchmark consisting of 70% BEK and 30% NBSK. Results indicate fique residue bleached pulp has similar fiber morphology and comparable strength properties in terms of the tensile strength (+ 6%) and tear strength (+ 10%), but superior bulk (+ 12%), water absorbency (+ 28%), and softness (−29% TS7 values) than NBSK pulp. A fiber blend of 70% BEK and 30% fique residue showed superior tensile strength (+ 21%), tear strength (+ 54%), bulk (+ 5.5%), water absorbency (+ 1.5%), and softness (−8.7% TS7 values) over a similar fiber blend of BEK and NBSK. Our findings demonstrate that fibers from fique residue can substitute NBSK in hygiene tissue applications. Upgrading residues from fique fibers as raw materials for the tissue industry can bridge the gap between sustainability and product performance, simultaneously opening the possibility of new revenue streams for millions of small farmers in the producing countries.