Straubel Paper Company
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Bioscrim

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In 1992 Straubel Paper Company developed a wiper grade named BIOSCRIM™. This wiper is similar in makeup to nylon reinforced materials except that the reinforcing material is rayon. Rayon is manufactured from wood fiber and so is biodegradable, in the same way as wood. When exposed to water and air for a suitable amount of time it decays, or rots. This material has been adopted by the U.S. Navy as the wiper to be used aboard ships, since it can be discarded overboard into the sea with no harmful affects. BIO-SCRIM™ is slightly more expensive than nylon reinforced wiper because rayon is more expensive and not as strong as nylon. The specification for BIO-SCRIM™ towels are similar to the nylon reinforced wiper except that it is reinforced with rayon.

The following give details of biodegradability and suitability of the biodegradable towel:

Biodegradability is a property of a substance that allows it's chemical nature to be changed by natural forces; water, air, bacteria and enzymes, into natural substances found in the earth's crust. This property is desirable in use and discard type products since it insures that the use of such products will not materially change the properties and make up of the earth's crust.

Straubel Paper Company has developed BIO-SCRIM™ as an environmentally preferable reinforced disposable wiper as compared with those products currently available. BIO-SCRIM™ is made from 100%-recyc1ed paper (25% post consumer waste) and is reinforced with spun rayon thread. Rayon is made from cellulose which is obtained from wood in much the same manner, as is the pulp from which paper is made.

As cellulose degrades, or rots, it changes into carbohydrates and sugars and, eventually into gaseous materials. The process is the same for paper and rayon.

To test the biodegradability of BIO-SCRIM™, as compared with similar products currently available, 8 1/2" x 11" samples of BIO-SCRIM™ and another product were partially buried in a mixture of potting soil containing fertilizers and an accelerant. About 1 % of fertilizer and accelerant was added to the potting soil. The test was carried out in disposable aluminum pans 9" x 11" x 11/2" deep. The potting material was used at the moisture level as obtained commercially. The samples were spread "flat" and covered irregularly with up to one inch of dirt in some places and allowing some edges and corners to stick up into the air. The pans were placed in polyethylene bags to prevent moisture loss and stored at room temperature for ten days.

At this point, neither the paper nor the rayon had any perceptible strength. The nylon reinforcing in the other product was the same as when the test started.

BIO-SCRIM™, as produced by Straubel Paper Company, is made from tissue paper consisting of 100% recycled fiber and rayon thread. The combination is held together by poly-vinyl acetate adhesive, which makes up 3% by weight.

Degradability of paper is widely recognized, as it is made from fibers extracted from wood, which, if not preserved, will rot.

The following paragraph is taken from a paper by G. G. Carroll, E. Delgado, J. Dutkiewicz, F. Lopez-Dellamary, Y. Hirabayashi, M. Muvundamina, H. Struszczyk and J. G. Winterowd of the Department of Chemical Engineering and the College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, entitled BIODEGRADABLE NONWOVENS FROM THE SEA.

Chemically, of course, both of these fibers (cotton and rayon) are cellulose, which is a polymer consisting of glucose units. Ultimately, when discarded, the glycosidic linkage in the polymer backbone can be cleaved and the fibers converted into simple sugars that are food for micro-organisms and thereby recycled. Cotton comes directly from the cotton plant, in contrast to rayon, which is manufactured from wood chips that have been chemically treated to dissolve away other components and leave the cellulose as short pulp fibers.

Wood pulp fibers are the same as paper is made from. In testing done by StraubeI Paper, the rayon and the paper fibers seemed to deteriorate at the same rate. There was no indication that the adhesive was "preserving" the fibers it was adjacent to.

The following was extracted from a study prepared by Veda Incorporated, 1800 N. Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311, Phone (703) 998-8332, for Mr. Wm. G. Robertson, code 4522A, Naval Supply Systems Command, Washington, D.C. 20301-5000.

The rayon scrim towel is identical to the plastic scrim towel except that the nylon scrim has been replaced by rayon fibers laid out in a netting pattern. The tissue is the same and the end product is essentially the same item in terms of absorbency, low lint, and abrasion resistance.

Overall, the BIO-SCRIM™ towels were well received by the crews of the vessels that tested them. Although it was not explained to them that this towel was a similar towel to the nylon scrim towel, the comments reflect a general satisfaction with the product. There was enough unanimity of contentment with the BIO-SCRIM™ towel to conclude that it has applications aboard ship, particularly in the highly restrictive submarine environment.

We recommend that the Navy authorize the use of the BIO-SCRIM™ towel for use by its seaborne forces. Because of its strength, absorbency, and nonlinting characteristics, it could provide the requisite service to Navy forces presently enjoyed by the plastic scrim towels. The minimal increase cost is outweighed by the benefits of this degradable material.

 
Straubel Paper Company
Straubel Paper Company