Next week at ISPO Munich 2023, the world's largest sports trade show, UPM Biochemicals and Vaude will unveil the world's first fleece jacket made with wood-based polyester. The collaboration aims to showcase the feasibility of using bio-based chemicals in textiles, addressing the urgent need for sustainable solutions in the fashion and footwear industries.
Michael Duetsch, Vice President Biochemicals at UPM, iterated the significance of this milestone in responding to the challenges faced by the fashion industry. The bio-based fleece jacket represents a move away from fossil-based materials, providing an actionable solution for industry leaders to embrace renewable materials.
Vaude, known for its commitment to sustainability, sees this collaboration as a confirmation of the appeal of their sustainable product portfolio. By advancing a biorefining business to offer bio-based renewable materials, they aim to assist global brands in reducing their CO2 footprint and transitioning away from fossil-based products.
Currently, about 60 percent of materials used in the fashion industry are derived from fossil-based polymers. The prototype of the bio-based fleece jacket is expected to inspire brands to adopt more sustainable bio-based solutions, accelerating the transformation of the textile industry.
60 percent of fashion textiles originate from fossil fuels
The key innovation in the process lies in replacing 30 percent monoethylene glycol (MEG) in polyester resin with a new bio-monoethylene glycol (BioMEG). UPM BioPura, the drop-in solution used in this process, is identical to traditional MEG on a molecular basis, making it compatible with existing polyester manufacturing processes and recycling streams.
René Bethmann, Senior Innovation Manager at Vaude, said in a statement: “We have partnered with UPM as partnerships across the whole value chain are a prerequisite for enhancing sustainable innovations.This initial milestone marks the first step in our journey to create a polyester derived from non-fossil ingredients.”
“Producing outerwear made with bio-based chemicals is part of our shift towards using renewable materials in the textile and apparel value chain – we want 90 percent of all our products to be bio-based or have recycled content of more than 50 percent.”
UPM's investment of EUR 1,180 million in building the world's first industrial-scale biorefinery in Leuna, Germany, reflects a broader commitment to shift towards renewable materials. The biorefinery will convert sustainably sourced hardwood into biochemicals, contributing to the transition away from fossil-based to renewable materials across various industries.