NEW YORK – A US material technology business has launched what is claimed to be the world’s first 100 per cent recycled, biodegradable synthetic fabric. Made from post-consumer recycled material – plastic bottles – PrimaLoft Bio fibres break down when exposed to specific environments, such as a landfill or the ocean. PrimaLoft has enhanced the fibres to be more attractive to the naturally-occurring microbes found in these environments, with the microbes said to eat away at the fibres at a faster rate, returning the fabric to natural elements. The fibres will debut in 2020.
“From the beginning of this process, we have always considered fabrics to be a particularly important part of the development of biodegradable materials. With this advancement, a fabric garment may now be completely returned to nature,” said Mike Joyce, president and CEO of PrimaLoft. “Because we will not compromise performance, we needed to ensure that our biodegradable fibres would stand up to the rigorous process of manufacturing fabrics, while maintaining its ability to degrade. This is really a new horizon, and we try to set the standards towards significantly lessening the environmental impact of the textile industry.”
The developers also claim the breakthrough will potentially help addressed the problem of microplastics littering the ocean, a significant issue for the textile and, particularly, synthetic fibres sector. It is estimated that half a million tons of plastic microfibres shed during the washing of plastic-based textiles such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic end up in the ocean every year. It is claimed PrimaLoft Bio fibres will only biodegrade when exposed to the naturally-occurring microbes in landfills or bodies of water, thus, the fabric remains highly durable throughout its usable lifecycle in a garment.
Specific test results show 84.1 per cent biodegradation in 423 days under accelerated landfill simulation conditions and 55.1 per cent in biodegradation in 409 days under accelerated marine simulation conditions. “We never saw recycling as the final answer. We have not only been able to break the biodegradability code but we’re really setting sustainability forward,” Joyce continued. “We try to contribute with new fibre technologies that are less harmful for the environment. This is part of our commitment to be Relentlessly Responsible.”