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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
New PANGAIA Partnership Aims to Scale Industry Adoption of Sustainable Synthetic Textiles

With an investment in Kintra Fibers, a material science company that makes 100% bio-based and compostable yarns, PANGAIA aims to raise industry standards for synthetic materials.

Direct-to-consumer sustainable apparel brand PANGAIA has invested in Kintra Fibers — a material science company that makes high-performance, 100 percent bio-based and compostable, synthetic yarns for the fashion and apparel industry. PANGAIA will help Kintra scale its patent-pending resin and yarn process; and the two companies will develop industry-first compostable fabric blends and apparel, pioneering increased sustainability standards for synthetic materials. The material will be available for use by additional brand partners.

Kintra joins sustainable materials innovators such as Sorona, Eastman, Lenzing and Genomatica as leaders in producing synthetic, biobased fibers that could revolutionize the textile and apparel industries. Its new, “farm-to-fabric” material is positioned as an alternative to the global overuse of petroleum-based, synthetic fabrics; as well as a powerful solution to harmful microplastic ocean pollution perpetuated by traditional, non-biodegradable synthetics. As Fast Company’s Elizabeth Segran recently pointed out, “It’s true that recycled plastic is better than new, petroleum-based plastic. But every time you wash or wear that [recycled puffer jacket], microscopic particles of plastic are released into the water stream, poisoning fish — and when you finally throw it out, it will not biodegrade.” So, while the recycled-plastic apparel trend is better for the environment than the continued use of virgin petroleum-based fabrics; ultimately, it still causes damage — hence, the need for continued materials innovation.

Florence, Italy-based PANGAIA has made a name for itself with its collection of wardrobe essentials made from bio-based, recycled fibers and recycled plastic bottles. The company uses natural, botanical dyes and additives such as antibacterial peppermint to keep fabrics fresh for longer; and NFC technology for complete supply chain transparency. By partnering with innovators such as Kintra, PANGAIA says its goal is to drive these solutions further by making technologies and materials available to companies across different industries.

"We are excited to be value chain partners with Kintra and help them realize the commercialization of their resin and yarn technology, bringing real systemic change of material possibilities for the industry. We hope this material will become a model not just for PANGAIA, but for the industry at large," said Amanda Parkes, Chief Innovation Officer at PANGAIA. "The Kintra fiber is a true embodiment of PANGAIA's commitment to 'high-tech naturalism,' our material philosophy. Kintra's breakthroughs in responsible, bio-based chemistry allow us to design for the performance and end-of-life of our garments from the molecule up."

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Kintra’s resin and yarns can be seamlessly integrated into existing synthetic manufacturing and textile production supply chains at a competitive price point, providing a scalable and cost-effective, sustainable alternative to synthetics such as PET, rPET, or nylon — with no microfiber pollution.

"PANGAIA's science-based standards for sustainability are unparalleled, and their commitment to the planet is visible in each step of their supply chain. We look forward to collaborating with the PANGAIA team and integrating our technology into their fabrics and garments," said Billy McCall, co-founder and CEO at Kintra Fibers. "As a lifelong surfer, protecting the oceans is near and dear to me. By designing for the material end-of-life at its start, we offer the industry a solution for microfiber pollution, as well as the ability to fit with chemical and physical recycling systems."

Instead of petroleum, Kintra’s resin is sourced from sugar. This offers brands the opportunity to set a new standard of transparency in the synthetic material supply chain: A 2019 survey by Textile Exchange of 170 fashion brands found that only 8 percent knew their polyester supply chain to the chemical supplier level, and none have made this information public. Yet, polyester still represents 52 percent of the global fiber market.

"We are committed to bring visibility to an opaque part of the supply chain to help brands build a better, more sustainable future and share this with their consumers in a more meaningful manner. We're thrilled to work with PANGAIA, a brand that has demonstrated their commitment to revolutionizing raw materials through their track record of working with eco-friendly innovations and processes," said Kintra co-founder and COO Alissa Baier-Lentz.

PANGAIA invested alongside Tech Council Ventures, which focuses on science and technology companies; and FAB Ventures — which invests in the sustainable fashion and beauty sector and is founded by former Lancôme CEO Odile Roujol.