Tobacco Asia

Volume 20, Number 1

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 29 of 75

30 tobaccoasia / Issue 1, 2016 March / April) Essentra's Autograph filter Essentra's Twin Tec filter photos courtesy of Essentra photos courtesy of Essentra "We believe [that] specialty filters will play an increasingly prominent role in cigarette develop- ment in terms of product differentiation, unique appearance, and meeting regulatory requirements, while at the same time ensuring a well-balanced taste," says Gintautas Tučinskas, the company's executive director. He adds that Nemuno Banga can handle pretty much any filter type or design in accordance with the customer's requirements. Slim, Slimmer, Slimmest Meanwhile, United Arab Emirates-based ARD Filters FZC banks on the increasingly emerging consumer preference for slim, super slim, and nano format cigarettes, which according to Ami- rali Dharamsey, the company's director or opera- tions, is particularly strong in its key market, the MENA region. "Nano filters are the most popular in our mar- ket and it may be correct to say that [the] UAE is the hub of nano [filter] production with unmatched ca- pacities across the world," he asserts. But of course, the company also offers standard filters as well as specialty filters with recess options and further- more considers itself a leading supplier of capsule filter rods. "ARD is able to supply most standard and specialized filters… [and] we provide special- ized solutions to our customers and ensure that we have the latest trends and technology at our disposal to serve [their] needs and expectations." Innovation Workhorse Yet when it comes to "thinking-out-of-the-box" innovation, perhaps few other filter manufacturers can rival Essentra. The Singapore-based company is today a veritable household name among tobac- co firms near and far. Currently selling to more than 70 countries worldwide, Essentra claims to be "the only global independent cigarette filter supplier". During the last four to five years, it has Spearheading Biodegradability To say it right away, cellulose acetate (CA) tow, the currently most commonly used raw material for cigarette filters, is, in fact, biodegradable as it is manu- factured from plant fibers. Yet the chemical process (esterification) deployed during manufacture "denatures" the end product considerably and studies have shown that a CA filter can take up to 10 years to completely decom- pose under ambient conditions. According to research, polypropylene (PP) tow takes even longer, a staggering 10,000 years (yes, you've read that right!). Enter polylactic acid (PLA), a natural polymer discovered in the 1930 and derived from food plants such as corn or sugar beets, all of which are renew- able sources in abundant supply. Used in a number of applications since, PLA has only recently found its way into the cigarette filter industry. While almost identical in its physical properties and filtration efficacy to CA and PP, PLA tow nevertheless fully biodegrades within less than three years, leaving behind only carbon dioxide and water. This makes PLA a most interesting "green" al- ternative for filter production, with government agencies and tobacco compa- nies worldwide seriously looking into the possibility to greatly expand its use. Established in 1966, Jiangsu Tianshengda Group Wuxi New Synthetic Fibre Co. Ltd. has been one of the first synthetic fiber companies in China to supply cigarette manufacturers with filter tow. For some time now, the com- pany has also enthusiastically embarked on a concerted effort spearheading to promote PLA use both at home and abroad. "Although our PLA research goes back more than a decade, we first began commercially producing PLA tow for Chinese cigarette factories in 2010 to evaluate the economic feasibility and consumer feedback, especially in terms of cigarette flavor retention and filter biodegradability. The results were encouragingly positive and since 2015 we have started promoting PLA tow more aggressively to export markets, too," says overseas marketing manager Mandip Sandhu. Boasting an annual capacity of above 10,000 metric tons, the company has currently allocated more than half of that to PLA tow production. "And this is steadily increasing every year as we are generating more market awareness. We eventually aim to allocate 100% of plant capacity to PLA tow," Sandhu elaborates, stressing that PLA is the most promising filter material to effectively help reduce global environmental pollution caused by discarded cigarette filters. "About 5.6 trillion cigarettes are sold globally every year and at least one third of those are dis- carded in the environment, costing governments and municipalities countless millions of dollars for clean up. It is not only the Chinese authorities who are concerned over this ongoing situation, but, in fact, the whole world."

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Tobacco Asia - Volume 20, Number 1