Economic potential for cotton utilization in alternative nonwoven textile technologies
Luitel, Kishor P.
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Cotton fiber is one of the most widely used fibers in the textile industry. In the U.S., despite increases in exports and production, the decline in domestic use of cotton has been the cause for some concern in the cotton industry. The use of synthetic fiber is increasing, replacing cotton fiber in textile industry. Nonwovens are the fastest growing sector of the textile industry. Nonwovens are engineered fabrics that are a combination of traditional textiles, paper and plastic. Nonwoven textile products are largely found in products related to hygiene, medical/surgical products, wipes, filters, shoes, in coating/laminated substrates, electronics, automotive textiles, geotextiles, furnishing and bedding, construction, padding and others. This study focuses on evaluating the economic potential for cotton fiber in nonwoven textiles by analyzing the nonwoven products and technologies that could use cotton and examines the price sensitivity of cotton compared with its substitute fibers. Data was collected through an online survey conducted among the nonwoven products producing firms. The study shows that cotton has prospect in the production of absorbent and hygienic, medical/surgical and health care, personal care and wipes products. It is technically feasible to use cotton in nonwoven textiles but economics is the limitation, in terms of price, volatility in price, and processing cost for impurities on the cotton fiber. The price of cotton fiber is not sensitive to its substitute fibers except for acrylic fiber. The cotton using firms are willing to pay a little more to use cotton than non-cotton using firms, compared to substitute fibers of cotton.