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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Brands Look to Bio-Based, Upcycled Plastics to Reduce Apparel Industry Impacts

Startups and retail giants alike are looking to bio-based materials and recycled plastics to drive innovation and reduce environmental impacts along the value chain within the fashion and textile industry.

Startups and retail giants alike are looking to bio-based materials and recycled plastics to drive innovation and reduce environmental impacts along the value chain within the fashion and textile industry.

Further proving the value of cross-industry collaboration in uncovering new sustainability solutions, H&M is partnering with Danone — parent company of Aqua and Evian — to transform plastic bottles into recycled polyester material. H&M is the second-largest user of recycled polyester in the world; last year the company used more than the equivalent of 180 million PET bottles of the recycled fabric.

Through its new partnership with Danone, which came to fruition during the recent Alliance for Marine Plastic Solutions Forum in Bali, the retail giant hopes to recover more plastic to feed its polyester production while simultaneously reducing marine plastics pollution. To do this, the partners have rolled out the Bottles to Fashion initiative in Indonesia, which will see bottles collected around the country and sold to Indonesian textile company Kahatex. Kahatex will then transform the recycled PET into polyester garments for H&M.

Meanwhile, Swedish outdoor apparel brand Tierra has launched its new Deterra Jacket, a bio-based technical jacket that uses no fossil-based materials.

The jacket is produced using Fulgar’s castor oil-based biopolymer Evo, wool from German sheep and Tencel yarn derived from wood cellulose. Corozo nuts from the Tagua palm were also sourced to make the jacket’s buttons and the hood is adjusted with a knot instead of the standard plastic stopper. By reducing the number of different components in the jacket, Tierra has also decreased transportation during production.

The company plans to use the jacket as a platform to talk about new materials and solutions as part of its mission to make technical clothes that are sustainable both for users and the planet.

The jacket will hit shelves later this month in Sweden and Germany and will also be available online on the Tierra site.

Every year, eight million tons of garbage end up in the oceans, an estimated 75 percent of which is in the depths of the seas. Spanish startup SEAQUAL is working to tackle the problem of marine plastic pollution with its new recycled filament for fabrics.

The company works with a network of more than 1,500 fishermen and 400 boats along the Spanish Mediterranean coast to collect plastic from their nets and turn it into valuable raw materials. Garbage — which includes plastic, glass and aluminum — is collected weekly and categorized for proper recycling. PET plastic is then converted into flakes and a polymer. Once the recycled polyester thread is created, it can be used to produce fabrics and garments.

The company estimates that for every kilo of SEAQUAL filament, we remove one kilo of trash from the seabed. SEAQUAL’s fiber will be exhibited at Première Vision Paris from September 19 to 21, 2017 to present new products and fabrics produced by weaver partners for Autumn-Winter 18/19.

Kering Eyewear is also making moves to lower its environmental impacts by teaming up with bioplastic developer Bio-on to develop new materials for eyewear based on a new natural and biodegradable polymer, Minery polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs).

“The materials developed by Bio-on will be a revolution in the eyewear industry and completely dovetail our unique approach to the market, as well as our desire to offer increasingly high quality and innovative products. In the luxury sector, sustainability and environmental awareness are no longer an option, they are a must,” said Roberto Vedovotto, Chairman and CEO of Kering Eyewear.

Researchers from Kering and Bio-on will work together on design, certification and marketing of new sustainable materials to be integrated with the use of cellulose acetate.

Bio-on’s PHAs are made with plant sources that do not compete with food supply chains. According to Bio-on, the materials offer the same thermo-mechanical properties as traditional plastics with the added benefit of having a lower environmental footprint and being naturally biodegradable.