2020-03-03T12:16:24+01:00March 3, 2020
Jutta Stehr

What really happens to thrown-away wipes

Everybody takes environmental concerns serious these times. We all have the feeling that part of our problems is throwing away too many products. It’s no mystery what happens to thrown-away plastics. But what happens to thrown-away wipes? After all, the majority of wipes contain plastics too because single-use wipes often are made from a blend of polyester and viscose fibers.

Interested? Then follow us during the next weeks. We will reveal what really happens to thrown-away, single-use wipes. Our laboratory is roughly at latitude 49° 57′ 57,24” and longitude 8° 40′ 24,96”, a nearly never-trotted lawn at Truetzschler Nonwovens’ Egelsbach site in the mid of Germany.

Plastic waste on a beach

Our laboratory

The set-up

This is our lawn after we set up the experiment. We „threw away“ various nonwoven wipe materials and end products of comparable weights between 45 and 55 grams/square meter. Our samples:

  • S01: wet-laid/binder handkerchief from pulp
  • S02: 100% wet-laid, unbonded pulp. The only means of bonding are hydrogene bridges.
  • S03: wet-laid/spunlaced nonwoven from 60% pulp and 40% lyocell. A dry material without lotion
  • S04: wet-laid/spunlaced nonwoven from 60% pulp and 40% lyocell in a water-based lotion
  • S05: wet-laid/spunlaced nonwoven from 60% pulp and 40% lyocell in an oil-based lotion
  • S06: carded/spunlaced dry wipe from 100% Tencel Skin
  • S07: carded/spunlaced dry wipe from 100% bleached cotton
  • S08: converted carded/spunlaced wet wipe from 100% cotton
  • S09: carded/spunlaced nonwoven from PET and viscose fibers
  • S10: carded/spunlaced wet wipe from PET and viscose fibers


We made three identical sample sets:

  • The first set was buried in the ground
  • We pinned the second set to the lawn so the fabrics lied in the open
  • The third set has been exposed to the weather and an occasional shower of rain on a balcony without contact to soil.

  • Samples buried and in the open (foreground)

What do you think will happen to all of them over time? Stay tuned and read in our next blogpost.


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