World of Wipes® Focuses on Turning Innovation into Action
Innovation across industry niches often overlaps in methodology, technology and manufacturing. The best and brightest of the wipes niche are invited to join at the World of Wipes® International Conference, known as WOW, in Atlanta from July 17-20, 2023. When looking for sustainability solutions for filtration and textiles, there is much to learn from producers of wipes, still in high consumer demand and still in the hotseat of sustainability. The event presented by INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, spotlights current insights and future trends driving this surging $11 billion industry forward. The event attracts more than 400 professionals and a host of tabletop exhibiting companies.
“I’m very excited to see the program evolve to meet the changing dynamics of the industry,” says WOW Committee Chair Jonathan M. Layer, Director of Commercial Business Development and Marketing, Fibertex Nonwovens.
“I’m especially confident that adding new sessions, such as the CEO Panel and Energy Inputs, will provide unique added value and perspective to the event. The committee focused on ensuring that we’re putting forth the best content addressing the most critical topics in the industry.”
This year, WOW introduces new elements for attendees, including pre-conference webinars. The pre-show webinars are a new place to connect, converse and to gain content. Details on the offerings can be found at www.worldofwipes.org/preconference-webinars.html.
Among the regular networking opportunities, another new aspect are the WOW LIGHTNING TALKS – “supersized elevator speeches” from industry suppliers. This is a limited-space, first-come opportunity for tabletop exhibitors to present their latest innovations just ahead of the networking reception to get attendees excited about their innovations.
WOW’s featured WIPES ACADEMY provides an educational deep dive into operational excellence, presented by Instructor Heidi Beatty, CEO, and Paul Davies, Ph.D., Senior Consultant, Crown Abbey, LLC. It is directed at raw material and packaging suppliers, brand and private label wipe converters, retail buyers, research and development professionals, marketing and product managers, and rising entrepreneurs.
Each year, WOW shines a light on excellence in innovation. The World of Wipes Innovation Award® recognizes companies from within the value chain that utilize nonwoven fabric/technology in a way that expands the usage of nonwovens, in categories such as raw materials, roll goods, converting, packaging, active ingredients, binders, additives and end-use products.
Gaining market intelligence is a priority to WOW attendees. Over 30 speakers are expected to share their expertise and insight over the two and a half days of the main event. Attendees are encouraged to lean in and learn from their peers who are moving the needle towards a sustainable future and supporting cross-industry collaboration.
The new CEO Panel promises a look at priorities and predictions, moderated by Chris Astley, Consultant. Inflation, supply chain and capacity/demand balance remain top concerns for wipe producers in 2023. Discussion topics will touch on inflationary impacts across an organization, surging wages, re-shoring, as well as domestic and international drivers to supply/demand balance. The panelists are Steve Gallo, CEO, Diamond Wipes; Markus Müller, Sales Director, Reifenhäuser Reicofil GmbH & Co. KG; R.J. Rudolph, Group Director – CMS-RT, Rockline Industries; Jodi Russell, Vice President R&D, Cleaning Innovation, Packaging & Sustainability, The Clorox Company; and, Robert Weilminster, EVP & General Manager, U.S. & Canada – Health, Hygiene, and Specialties Division, Berry Global.
There are pressing issues that the wipes industry must address in coming years to remain strong. “We as machine supplier must find solutions to deal with supply chain issues, high energy costs, inflation and the general political situation especially in Europe,” notes panel participant Markus Müller. “The industry must deal with the general ‘plastic shaming,’ i.e., sustainability requirements, such as how to produce wipes energy and resource-efficient, as well as how to avoid ‘green-washing’ in this context.” The hope is that attendees will hear about challenges in this industry and understand possible solutions.
“I want attendees get a better understanding of the evolving landscape of the entire wipes sector post-pandemic,” Jodi Russell comments. “What has changed? What has stayed the same?”
Russell believes the industry must address technology and business issues. On technology she cites: “Asset utilization – how does the industry cope with unpredictable demand cycles?; Transitioning from plastic to non-plastic materials in a cost-effective manner without compromising on attributes consumer expects; and, AI – how will it integrate and be adopted into the nonwovens industry?”
On business, issues include to: “Reverse trend on commoditization across all wipes categories – what type of messaging can the trade create to upgrade the perception of wipes products as a premium experience?; and, to gain a better understanding of changing regulatory landscape and its impact on various vectors, specifically the tightening legislative/regulatory landscape around plastic waste,” she says.
A series of power-sessions weave together one urgent industry issue – “Plastic Policy: Closing the ‘Intentional’ Gap.” Moderated by Olivia Reiber, Key Accounts Manager, Wipes & Specialties, Berry Global, she leads the analytical presentations from Matt Seaholm, CEO, Plastics Industry Association, Murat Dogru, General Manager, EDANA, as well as a representative from Kimberly-Clark Corporation.
“The Nonwoven Wipes Supply Chain Response to ‘Plastics Free’” with presenter Phil Mango, President, Philip Mango Consulting, considers the European Union’s Single Use Plastics Directive and its explicit inclusion of disposable wipes in 2019, which calls for an accelerated response from the industry. Much of the response has been product related, but he suggests that the better answer is a broader, total supply chain response from raw material providers, production equipment suppliers, nonwoven pro-
ducers and wipes converters who all play important roles.
Rounding out the day’s discussion are three discussions on sustainability manufacturing practices, reducing CO2 footprint while targeting CO2 neutrality by 2035 and utilizing technologies for sustainable products.
WOW’s second full day presents consumer-centric sessions: “Give the People What They Want! A Road Trip Through the Consumer Mindset on Plastics, Packaging, Recycling, and What They Expect from the Brands They Buy From” with Suzanne Shelton, President & CEO, Shelton Group; “Closeness to the Consumer – Goodwipes to Uranus: To Boldly Go Where No Toilet Paper Company Has Gone Before” presented by Sam Nebel, Co-Founder, Goodwipes; “A Holistic Approach Towards Wet Wipes Preservation,” with Paul Salama, Ph.D., CTO & Head of Innovation, Sharon Laboratories; and “Transparency in the Supply Chain,” with moderator Jonathan Layer, Director of Commercial Business Development and Marketing, Fibertex Nonwovens.
The final half-day on day three explores the flushability factor, a topic INDA is tackling head on. Five industry experts will present aspects of the issue from fiber innovation, legislative issues, and standards development.
Clarifying the Future
“It’s my hope that the attendees will walk away with a clearer picture of the industry dynamics in a way that allows them to make informed decisions to guide their businesses,” says Layer. “I also want to encourage innovation in the way we operate – not only in product development but also in supply chain, strategy, and operational sustainability. WOW is the must-attend event of the industry and this year’s program will set the bar in enabling success for each attendee or exhibitor.”
For more information visit: www.worldofwipes.org