In the age of digital communications, it may seem that the widespread use of paper in business is on the decline. Gone are the days of printed memos and physical company newsletters. However, paper and forestry products are still an essential part of many business operations. Specifically, cellulose acetate may be found in a variety of products that might otherwise seem paperless. Cellulose acetate was derived from wood pulp in 1900 and continues to be used widely in products as diverse as wound dressings, film media, and personal hygiene products.
Cellulose acetate is a widely used synthetic fiber and is valued for its good draping qualities, dyeability, and the low cost of production. Often used in the manufacture of satin, taffeta, and brocade, this pulp-based fiber adds luster, comfort, and vibrant coloration to these fabrics. Additionally, cellulose acetate fibers are hypoallergenic, can be washed and dried with minimal shrinkage, and are resistant to mold and mildew. Capable of being composted or incinerated, many cellulose-based fibers have been replaced by cheaper, nonbiodegradable petroleum-based fibers.
High Absorbency Products
Because the diffusion capabilities of cellulose acetate fibers allow for high levels of absorption, this material is often used as a component of personal hygiene or surgical products. These fibers both wick away moisture and hold their shape after becoming saturated, qualities that make cellulose acetate ideal for creating durable, discrete items. Feminine hygiene products, such as sanitary napkins and tampons, diapers, and certain gauzes and wound dressings are all made with cellulose acetate.
Originally created to replace the unstable cellulose nitrate film used in photography, cellulose acetate film is now used as a packaging material in many food products. Biodegradable and generally considered safe in its pure form, this semipermeable film can be transparent, opaque, or colored and allows gases and moisture to escape, making it ideal for food packaging.
Because of their high physical strength, as well as their hydrophilic and protein-binding capabilities, cellulose acetate fibers are often formed into membranes to act as filters. Cellulose acetate filters are common to cigarettes but are also used in medical and laboratory settings because they can repeatedly be sterilized without harming the integrity of the filter.
If you're looking to limit your environmental impact and conserve trees, it's important to keep in mind that tree-based products aren't limited to paper and cardboard. When making purchasing decisions, take time to ask questions and research products and their components. Informed business practices start with informed consumers.
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