New Fibers Are Closing The Loop For Sustainable Fabrics
By Kathlyn Swantko
The average US consumer throws away 81.5 lbs. of fast fashion clothing every year, according to earth.org. In America alone, only an estimated 15 percent of this total is being donated for recycling. Therefore, from a circularity perspective, recycling represents a very small part of the overall waste problem.
Fiber/yarn/fabric producers are looking holistically at the full lifecycle of a garment, considering the impact during and after its existence in a consumer’s wardrobe. By creating materials out of recycled inputs, waste-conscious fiber producers are working to convert post-consumer garments into new fiber efforts. Such closed-Loop recycling can bring the polymer back to the same parameters as its initial production state.
The textile industry views circularity in three parts: 1. The individual company’s internal recycling efforts; 2) The fashion industry’s partnership with the textile industry to support and reuse yarns; and 3. The use of broader waste found in nature that can also become biodegradable.
At ORSS ‘23, textile companies shared their sustainable product philosophies for taking innovative steps to establish sustainable circularity processes for synthetic fabrics and garments. goals.
Odor-free OOMLA socks with zinc-
powdered Acteev® textile
Ascend Performance Materials is the world’s largest fully integrated producer of polyamide 6,6 resins, fibers, and chemicals, and the producer of Acteev®. Ascend is focused on delivering consistent, high performing products with a low carbon footprint---significantly less than processing virgin or even chemically recycled polymer. Currently, the company’s technology reclaims waste material generated at its own facilities, but its ultimate goal is to recycle post-consumer materials as well. In October 2022, Ascend Performance Materials launched ReDefyne™, a portfolio of sustainable polyamides created with up to 100% pre- and post-consumer recycled polyamide 6,6 or 6 to provide a low carbon footprint and reliable
Ascend’s Acteev® creates textiles that naturally combat odor-causing bacteria and provide up to 50+ UPF protection by harnessing the natural power of zinc technology. Unlike silver-based antimicrobials, which are typically coated or sprayed on in the finishing process, Acteev’s active zinc ions are embedded directly into the nylon polymer. This minimizes the risk of the protective finish from rubbing off the fabric. Both knit and woven Acteev fabrics retain their performance efficacy throughout the life of the fabric. In comparison, the topical coating process for silver is water-intensive, with excess silver ending up in our waterways.
Acteev can be made with up to 40% plant-based feedstock, and utilizes less water. It is abrasion-resistance, and its anti-pill/anti-shed microfibers have a soft hand with an excellent drape.
At ORSS, Ascend Performance Materials and Acteev® showcased its new high-performance tennis/golf wear from InPhorm and its odor-free socks from the Gen-Z-favorite, OOMLA. The socks, made from a blend of 35% cotton /35% Acteev (polyamide/nylon) /20% spandex, and 10% elastic. The foot-bed is made from 70% stink-resistant Acteev fiber.
CORDURA®’s TrueLock™ nylon fabric.
CORDURA®promoted its 55-year history of textile advancements that have helped to shape military, workwear, and outdoor products with performance fabric innovations with 2,500+ certified fabrics. CORDURA® continues to work hand-in-hand with its mill and supply chain partners to break molds and blaze new trails towards a more circular economy.
The company’s most recent sustainable innovation is its TrueLock™ Fabric, engineered with high-tenacity nylon 6,6 multi-filament fiber to lock in the color at the molten polymer extrusion level. This creates deep, durable color throughout the entire fiber structure. Since it takes energy to strip the color off a textile, dyed fibers present a sustainable challenge for recycling. CORDURA’s TrueLock™ yarns that have the color embedded when the yarn is spun. During the recycling process, the dope-dyed yarns remain the same, eliminating the need to strip off color. Therefore, the fabric is abrasion-resistant, UV-fade resistant, and provides long-lasting fabric color consistency, while supporting CORDURA®’s well-known strength/durability.
The TrueLock™ technology uses less water (saving more than 467,000 liters of water per 250,000 linear meters of fabric); saves energy; and emits less greenhouse gases (saving more than 26,845 kilograms of CO2), leaving a lighter footprint on the company’s continued path toward sustainability.
drirelease® /Optimer Brands new DRICOMFORT® GEO 365 technology, with its embedded minerals in the polymer structure, has received the ECO PASSPORT certification from OEKO-TEX. GEO 365’s infused mineral particles become part of the fiber structure, imparting permanent performance without impacting fabric processing or aesthetics. The GEO 365 fiber offers permanent wicking, and provides fast-drying thermal regulation, without using chemical finishes or topical coatings that wash out over time.
The infusion of minerals in the polymer structure enhances year-round comfort and performance. The inherently hydrophilic (water-/energy-absorbing) and conductive mineral particles pull moisture/heat away from the skin. DRICOMFORT® GEO 365 uses the body’s energy to make sweat evaporate faster, thus enhancing evaporative fabric cooling.
“This innovative technology is optimized for filament-based fabrics, including recycled and biodegradable fabrics,” says Optimer’s VP of Sales & Business Development, Dwayne Ayers. “Our DRICOMFORT® GEO 365 will be a game changer to enhance the performance for a variety of existing fabrics.”
Another new sustainable development is the launch their Wool fabric collection, developed through the merger of technologies between two fiber producers, NexTex Innovations’ TurboDry® and drirelease. This partnership creates high performing moisture management fabrics, and offers the apparel industry relief from using chemical-wicking finishes for performance apparel.
Marking one of the first times that two branded technologies from different companies have partnered to help accomplish the mission of reducing the dependency of chemical wicking finishes, while enhancing comfort and performance, TurboDry® drirelease ® fabrics incorporate patented technologies at the fiber and fabric level to specifically focus on the movement of moisture away from the skin to the outside of the surface of the fabric. The innovation of TurboDry® drirelease ® Wool fabric collection begins at the yarn level, utilizing drirelease’s engineered blend of fibers. The yarn technology uses the natural and permanent properties of its special recipe of fibers to optimize wicking, fast drying and natural aesthetics.
From a life cycle standpoint, TurboDry® drirelease® fabrics have the ability to use sustainable materials, such as recycled polyester and nylon, RWS wool, BCO Cotton, and organic cotton, with permanent one-way moisture performance for the life of the product.