Absorbent core: The central component of an absorbent hygiene product to which the fluid is transferred and in which it is then retained.

Absorbent hygiene products (AHPs): Products designed to absorb bodily fluids through various stages of life. The market is segmented into three major areas: Infant and Child Care, Feminine Care and Adult Care. The products include baby diapers, training pants, pant diapers, sanitary pads, pantyliners, tampons, incontinence briefs, inserts and pads.

Acidification: The process whereby air pollution – mainly ammonia, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides – is converted into acid substances.

Acquisition/Distribution Layer (ADL): The component of an absorbent hygiene product through which the fluid is transferred and distributed within the absorbent core.

Anaerobic digestion: Anaerobic digestion is a biological process that produces a gas principally composed of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) otherwise known as biogas. These gases are produced from organic wastes such as livestock manure, food processing waste, etc. Anaerobic digestion reduces the odour and liquid waste disposal problems and produces a biogas fuel that can be used for process heating and/or electricity generation.

Back sheet: The layer of an absorbent hygiene product made of either polymer film or nonwoven film designed to prevent wetness transfer from the wearer to their bed or clothes.

Bioburden: The number and nature of microorganisms on a product.

Biodegradation: The breakdown of materials by living organisms in the environment. The process depends on naturally occurring microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, which break down molecules for growth. For a material to be considered completely biodegradable, the parent material must disappear, substantial production of carbon dioxide (aerobic conditions) or methane (anaerobic conditions) must occur and there must be an absence of persistent metabolites (substances produced by biological processes).

Biogenic: Produced by living matter.

Breathable: Allows air circulation.

Candida albicans: Yeast like organism that can infect the mouth, the skin, the intestines or the vagina.

Cellulose wadding: A soft, thick material made from cotton or rayon fibres.

Cellulose: A natural polymer (macromolecular polysaccharide) that is the main component of plant cell walls.

Colony forming unit: A measure of viable microorganisms.

Coverstock: The outer layer of an absorbent hygiene product that is in direct intimate contact with the user’s skin. It allows instant transfer of the fluid from the point of contact to the inside of the product. Also referred to as the topsheet.

Defibred wood pulp: Wood pulp that has been put through a hammer mill to separate the fibres into ‘fluff’ which increases the bulk and, as a result, can be used to form AHPs.

Diaper dermatitis: An irritation of the skin covering the groin, lower stomach, upper thighs and buttocks. Also known as ‘nappy rash’ in the UK.

Diaper: Article worn by babies to absorb urine and contain faeces.

Disposable: The term used by the Absorbent Hygiene Product industry to denote products intended for single use.

Dissolving grade wood pulp: The technical name for fluff pulp.

Double-blind clinical study: A clinical trial in which the method for data analysis is specified in the protocol beforehand and the study subjects have been randomly assigned for either application of the study material or an alternative material, and in which neither the subjects nor the physician(s) conducting it know which treatment is given to the subjects.

EDANA: The leading association and voice of the Nonwovens and related industries. Its aim is to provide leadership through dialogue with stakeholders and the active promotion of sustainable development, consumer/end-users interests and transparency.

Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF): A bleaching process that substitutes chlorine dioxide for elemental chlorine in the bleaching process. Compared to elemental chlorine bleaching processes, ECF bleaching reduces the formation of many chlorinated organic compounds.

Etiological factors: Scientific factors.

Extrusion: A manufacturing process that allows continuous production of polymer materials for example into long objects of a fixed cross-sectional profile.

Fiberisation: The separation of wood and other plant material into fibres or fibre bundles by mechanical (sometimes assisted by chemical) means.

Fluff pulp: The common name for wood pulps used in the absorbent core of absorbent hygiene products such as diapers, feminine absorbent pads and airlaid absorbent products.

Global warming: An increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s surface, which occurs following an increase in greenhouse gases.

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs): Good manufacturing practices (GMPs) are guidelines that describe the methods, equipment, facilities and controls required for producing safe products. They require a quality approach to manufacturing, enabling companies to minimise or eliminate instances of contamination, mix-ups, and errors.

HAPCO: The Hygiene Absorbent Products Manufacturers Committee is run under the auspices of EDANA. It currently consists of 21 companies located throughout Europe who represent a dominant share of the production of disposable hygiene products: baby diapers, sanitary protection products and incontinence pads. It works closely with national industry associations representing the absorbent hygiene industry in European countries. The aim of HAPCO is to give a clear understanding of its products and the benefits they offer to society.

Hot melt adhesives: A solid thermoplastic adhesive that melts rapidly when heated and sets to a bond when cooled. Unlike many other adhesives, hot melt adhesives do not set due to the evaporation of a solvent.

In vivo: In a living organism, as opposed to in vitro (in the laboratory).

Lamination: Bonding sheets together.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): A technique for assessing the environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product throughout its entire life cycle, from raw material acquisition through production, use and disposal. A LCA consists of four steps: goal and scope definition, Life Cycle Inventory analysis (LCI), Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA), and interpretation.

Life Cycle Inventories (LCI): The record of all inputs and outputs of the processes that occur during the life cycle of a product.

Lignin: A naturally occurring component of plants that helps provide strength and that is generally removed during paper and pulp manufacturing.

Lipases: Enzymes which are active in the digestion of fats.

Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT): The mechanical sorting and separation of the waste stream to separate the biodegradable materials, which are sent to a biological process, from the non-biodegradable materials which may be recycled or used for fuel.

Menarche: The first occurrence of menstruation.

Menses: The monthly discharge (bleeding) from the uterus of non-pregnant females from menarche to menopause consisting of blood, cervical mucus, cell residues and vaginal secretion.

Nappy: Term used for a diaper in the United Kingdom.

Natural resources: Substances extracted by man from the earth. Examples are iron ore, crude oil, water and wood.

Nitrogenous: Of or relating to or containing nitrogen.

Nonwoven fabrics: Sheet or web structures bonded together by entangling fibre or filaments (and by perforating films) mechanically, thermally or chemically. They are flat, porous sheets that are made directly from separate fibres or from molten plastic or plastic film. They are not made by weaving or knitting and do not require converting the fibres to yarn. They are suitable for products that have limited life or are single-use and specific functions including absorbency, liquid repellency, resilience, stretch, softness and strength.

Nonwoven substrates: See ‘Nonwoven fabrics’.

Nutrification: The process of phosphorus enrichment causing over-enrichment of lakes and rivers with nutrients, leading to excessive growth of algae and other aquatic plants.

Occlusion: A term indicating that the state of something, which is normally open, is now totally closed.

PET (Polyester): Thermoplastic material that can be spun into fibres or continuous filaments. Its properties include strength and high modulus. It can be easily recycled.

pH: A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a fluid or substrate. The pH of any fluid is the measure of its range from 0 to 14 on a logarithmic scale, where 0 is most acid, 14 most alkaline and 7 is neutral.

Polyethylene film: Thin plastic that comes in sheets of different thicknesses and sizes, rolled or folded.

Polypropylene: A thermoplastic material similar to polyethylene but somewhat stiffer and with a higher softening point (temperature).

Proteases: Enzymes which cause proteins to break into peptides or amino acids (smaller pieces).

Raw materials: Components of a product. Examples are fluff pulp, nonwoven fabrics and superabsorbent polymer.

Rayon: A manufactured regenerated cellulosic fibre produced from naturally occurring cellulose.

Single-use product: A product designed to be discarded after one use, also referred to as disposable.

Superabsorbent Polymers (SAP): Granular crosslinked sodium polyacrylates used to absorb aqueous fluids, most commonly in baby diapers, adult incontinence products, external feminine hygiene products and other products in the personal care markets.

Superinfections: An infection following a previous infection, especially when caused by microorganisms that have become resistant to the antibiotics used earlier.

Thermal treatment: The treatment of waste in a device which uses elevated temperatures as the primary means to change the chemical, physical, or biological character or composition of the hazardous waste. Incineration is an example of thermal treatment.

Tissue wrap layer: Used in some diaper products around the absorbent core structure or the storage layer. This serves to contain the dry structure during manufacture and assists in preventing distortion or collapse of the core when saturated with liquid.

Topsheet: The outer layer of an absorbent hygiene product that is in direct intimate contact with the user’s skin. It allows instant transfer of the urine from the point of contact to the inside of the product. Also referred to as the coverstock.

Totally Chlorine Free (TCF): A virgin pulp bleaching process that uses oxygen based compounds instead of chlorine based compounds and chlorine derivatives.

Urea: The end product of protein metabolism in humans which is discharged in the urine.

Valorisation: The capture of energy from incineration.

Viscose: Alternative name for rayon.

Wood pulp: Fibre from wood with varying degrees of purification that is used for the production of paper, paper board, and chemical products.