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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
C&A, G-Star, Genomatica Set New Course for Sustainable Textiles

The two clothing giants and the leader in bioengineering have each achieved industry-first milestones with their latest innovations — which raise the bar for sustainable denim and biobased nylon.

G-Star RAW’s new stretch denim collection was designed to be upcycled

Image credit: G-Star RAW

Dutch denim giant G-Star RAW has continued to up its own ante when it comes to helping to clean up denim — the conventional production of which is notoriously polluting and water-intensive: The brand has been working to recycle its jeans into new since 2012; released the first-ever Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Gold level-certified denim in late 2017 (check out G-Star’s complete collection of sustainable denim ...).

Now, its Spring 2020 line of men’s and women’s jackets and jeans is 100 percent recyclable — each piece made from organic cotton, blended with a sustainable stretch fiber. The brand says the items are created using only renewable energy and zero toxic chemicals, and all water used during the wash process is recycled. The brand’s dedication to sustainable design and materials earned it what, to date, had been the highest denim product certification yet issued by the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute — at least until late last month, when …

C&A launches world’s most sustainable denim: Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Platinum

Image credit: C&A

European fashion retailer C&A — already a pioneer in C2C-certified textiles since the release of the first Cradle to Cradle Certified™ GOLD T-shirts in 2017 and denim garments in 2018 — has grabbed the baton, last week unveiling another world’s first with Rajby Textiles’ Beluga Denim, the first fabric ever to be awarded Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Platinum. The fabric was introduced on Friday at the C2C Congress 2020 in Berlin.

To create what is now considered the world’s most sustainable denim, C&A partnered with long-term supplier Rajby and advisor Eco Intelligent Growth (EIG), which collaborated with MBDC on the material health assessment component of the multi-faceted certification.

Read more about Beluga Denim

Genomatica, Aquafil create industry-first sustainable nylon

Image credit: Genomatica/YouTube

Meanwhile, nylon is the first completely synthetic fiber to be made into consumer products; these days, the strong and versatile material has become nearly ubiquitous in its applications, especially in textiles — where it can found in everything from apparel to rope and carpet. Unfortunately, traditional production methods of the wonder fiber, which is made from crude oil, emit an estimated 60 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

Enter Genomatica — the San Diego-based bioengineering firm that develops biobased and renewable alternatives to a host of widely used materials and chemicals, with a goal of enabling more sustainable everyday products. The company has led the industry by creating a renewable form of 1,4-butanediol (BDO) — an organic compound that is widely used for the production of plastics, solvents, electronic chemicals and elastic fibers. It has followed with other bio-based alternatives such as its Brontide™ butylene glycol, which is revolutionizing products such as personal care drops; and has been hard at work for the past several years developing renewable nylon intermediates, and partnering with ECONYL producer Aquafil, to develop a commercially advantageous process for producing biobased caprolactam — a key ingredient used in producing Aquafil’s signature 100 percent sustainable nylon.

Now, Genomatica and Aquafil are celebrating their production of the world’s first renewably sourced ton of the key ingredient for nylon-6 — made from plants, instead of crude oil. Here’s a video that CEO Christophe Schilling made last year, describing the process of developing a plant-based nylon alternative:

Read more about Genomatica’s breakthrough in renewable nylon