The writing is on the wall for polyester and its crude oil origins.
Today, Amsterdam-based innovation firm Fashion for Good announced a new polyester-focused project borrowing from the findings in its Full Circle Textiles Project, which launched formally in September.
“A future without fossil fuels in fashion will need us to scale disruptive innovations such as chemical recycling to replace polyester. We’re pleased to continue supporting the industry’s efforts through the Full Circles Textiles Project, with chemically recycled polyester. Our funding allows actors across the supply chain to come together and test these path-breaking solutions, and we eagerly await the results of this phase of the project,” Anita Chester, head of materials at Laudes Foundation, said in a statement.
The next phase of the project focuses on scaling these solutions and encourages brands, innovators and supply chain partners to collaborate in creating long-term partnerships, catalyze funding to enable scaling, and leverage industry expertise to further develop and implement these technologies.
Brands, innovators, supply chain partners and catalytic funders are behind the project.
Many of the same funding partners, among them the Laudes Foundation, Adidas, Bestseller, C&A, PVH Corp., Target and Zalando, are joining forces, as well as affiliate partners like Arvind Limited (a textile producer which leads in cotton), the Fabrics Division of W. L. Gore & Associates (Gore-Tex maker) and Teijin Frontier (which produces a range of polyester innovations).
Over the course of the 18-month project, a handful of “promising innovators in polyester chemical recycling” including Netherlands-based CuRe Technology (which counts independent bottler Coca-Cola European Partners as an investor), Italian firm Garbo, Swiss company Gr3n and PerPETual (a U.S.-based company specializing in PET) will produce chemically recycled polyester for eventual use in fabric and garment production from post-consumer textile waste.
The innovator output will be assessed and validated by participating Fashion for Good brand and supply chain partners.
The project borrows learnings from Fashion for Good’s first iteration that centered on cellulosic chemical recycling. Despite recycling being cited as a myth for change by Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the polyester project, like the predecessor cellulosic project, aims to fuel innovators and find scalable solutions for recycling. The previous cellulosic project supported firms like Circ, Evrnu, Infinited Fiber Company and Renewcell, with many seeing validation in the form of brand funding. Over the past year, Patagonia, Adidas, Zalando, Bestseller and H&M all poured investment into Infinited Fiber Company’s “Infinna” fiber, for one.
Recycling has become a bit of an obsession as fashion looks for outlets to curb its reliance on virgin feedstocks.
A McKinsey report published last month stated fashion could become 80 percent circular “with scaling of today’s recycling technologies.” Among them are mechanical fiber-to-fiber recycling for cotton and viscose; thermo-mechanical recycling; chemical cellulosic recycling, and chemical synthetic mono recycling for polyester, nylon, and chemical blended recycling.”
The potential, per the report, is that recycling technologies “have the potential to be more cost effective than using corresponding virgin materials.”