Samsara Eco and Lululemon develop world’s first enzymatically recycled nylon

(Source: Inside Small Business)

Australian eco-tech start-up Samsara Eco and athletic apparel brand Lululemon have unveiled the world’s first enzymatically recycled nylon 6,6 product, representing a key milestone that brings the fashion industry one step closer to creating a circular ecosystem.

The breakthrough fabric will make its way in Lululemon’s renowned Swiftly Tech Long-Sleeve Top, made with Samsara Eco’s pioneering new (patent pending) technology that extracts nylon 6,6 from end-of-life stage textiles, thus creating a fully circular ecosystem for apparel. Using its library of plastic-eating enzymes, Samsara Eco’s manufacturing process is completed within hours and at a low temperature.

It is reported that roughly four million tonnes of nylon 6,6 is created per year, which makes it one of the most commonly used plastics in the textile industry. Nylon 6,6 has been notoriously difficult to recycle and because of its tough, heavy-duty properties has been used in a breadth of industries like fashion, automotive and electronics. 

“Until now, textile-to-textile nylon 6,6 has been unrecyclable,” Paul Riley, CEO and founder of Samsara Eco, said. “The samples we have created with Lululemon represent a world-first breakthrough for the future of textile waste. Our work with Lululemon shows the potential to give clothes an infinite life.”

The milestone comes a year after Samsara Eco, whose team is pictured, announced its partnership with Lululemon as its first textile partner in a multi-year collaboration. The Swiftly samples represent the next stage in the collaboration, creating lower-impact alternative textiles in the apparel industry. 

“We’re committed to maintaining a low carbon footprint during our infinite recycling process,” Riley said. “Compared to the production of virgin nylon 6,6, Samsara Eco’s infinite recycling process reduces emissions and has the potential to save tens of millions of tonnes of CO2 entering our environment every year. We’ve started with nylon 6,6, but this sets the trajectory of what’s possible for recycling across a range of industries as we continue expanding our library of plastic-eating enzymes. This is one giant leap for the future of sustainable fashion and circularity,” added Riley.

Over 90 per cent of the nylon used in each of the Lululemon Swiftly top samples is produced using Samsara’s enzymatic recycling process, and the samples offer the same fit, feel and quality guests expect from Lululemon products.

“Our enzymatic recycling is the only solution on the market that allows the textile industry to unlock nylon 6,6 amongst mixed feedstocks to prevent textiles from ending up in landfill,” Sarah Cook, Chief Commercial and Operations Officer of Samsara Eco, explained.

With the recycled nylon technology available in its product, lululemon aims to realise its end-of-life vision of circularity for its products, with a goal to make 100 per cent of products with preferred materials and end-of-use solutions by 2030.

“The Lululemon Swiftly top samples go beyond material innovation – they represent the exciting possibilities and impact that can be achieved through collaboration and cross-industry partnership,” Yogendra Dandapure, Vice President of Raw Materials Innovation at Lululemon, said. “This breakthrough not only signals a turning point for sustainable innovation in apparel but for all industries looking to shift towards more circular models. We look forward to continuing to work with Samsara Eco to help scale this new technology in the months and years ahead.”

This story was originally published on Inside Small Business.

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