Asahi Kasei is a long-standing multinational chemical company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. The company was founded in 1922 and specialized in ammonia and cellulose fiber. Since then, Asahi Kasei has grown significantly; and the company now counts over 300 subsidiary companies, offices in some 20 countries, and nearly 45,000 employees in its ranks.
Here in the North American market, Asahi Kasei Advance America is the company's trading arm responsible for sales of select fabrics. And this week, they announced the US launch of the Bemliese nonwoven fabric. (Bemliese is a registered trademark of Asahi Kasei.)
A new material for beauty makers in the US
“We are excited by the success and reception of Bemliese in Asia for its diverse applications and sustainability,” says Chad Provonsha, Sales and Marketing Director of Asahi Kasei Advance America, in this week’s media release about the material.
And he goes on to explain that, like so many supply-side companies, Asahi Kasei Advance America sees the beauty industry as a sort of proving ground for its technologies and that the Bemliese material has ready applications in an array of industries beyond cosmetics and personal care.
“This biodegradable fabric has been highlighted in sheet masks and cosmetic wipes,” acknowledges Provonsha. “But,” he adds, “Bemliese goes beyond sustainable beauty and can be utilized in every industry including agriculture, landscaping, and household goods.”
“Its application possibilities are endless and because it is a one-of-a-kind material that not only shows superior performance, but also is virtually 100% biodegradable within four weeks, we look forward to new innovations that will stem from its introduction to the US market,” he says.
In the APAC region, Asahi Kasei’s Bemliese material has been used by beauty makers including L’Oréal and Kosé Group, according to the company release. Besides its sustainability attributes, the material ostensibly has better formula absorption and adheres more smoothly and completely to the skin, which “allows for the even application of formula to the skin, yielding superior results.”
Sheet masks and beauty wipes made with upcycled cotton
Bemliese is made from a byproduct of cotton harvesting. Cotton linter is the short bits of fiber that remain on the cotton seeds after processing. It is a very pure source of cellulose and has applications in paper manufacturing and is also used as roughage in animal feed.
Asahi Kasei Advance is putting it to use as a nonwoven fabric that is eminently more degradable than some other sheet mask and wipe substrates. Though the concept is not entirely novel. Other mask/patch/wipe materials known as Cupra or Cupro (short for cuprammonium rayon) are made with cotton linter and are available in beauty marketplace.
Still, Asahi Kasei Advance America believes that their material stands out for its environmental sustainability. Particularly because the Bemliese material has TÜV AUSTRIA Belgium NV certifications showing that it is compostable in both an industrial and home setting as well as biodegradable in soil and in the marine environment. Plus the company has data showing that Bemliese is remarkably soft, non-abrasive, drapes easily when wet, and absorbs liquid better than conventional cotton or rayon.
This article was updated on 14-July-2021 to more accurately state that Asahi Kasei Advance America is the sales arm for Bemliese in North America and that the Bemliese material holds certifications from TÜV AUSTRIA Belgium NV (and that those do not apply to the Asahi Kasei company at large).