The Sympatex membrane can be recycled following standard methods – just like PET bottles. Regarding the production of the membrane, Sympatex and its partners have developed a procedure for the first time that helps to reduce the material input quantities by up to 15%. The material and the energy savings are achieved by a mono-material recycling of waste membrane particles that were created during the production and that had to be disposed of before.
During the development of this procedure, Sympatex managed to essentially guarantee the product properties of the highly functional membrane at the same level without any loss of quality. The pre-consumer recycling procedure has been used since the beginning of 2011 for a selection of Sympatex membrane qualities and represents an important step towards an improvement of the eco-balance.
The lamination of the Sympatex membrane with outer materials and linings made of polyester results in mono-material polyester laminates. This material combination is the ideal precondition for a direct recycling process using existing technologies.
The recycled outer materials and linings made of polyester are part of the sustainability strategy of Sympatex. The material basis of these fabrics is a yarn that is produced with recycled PET bottles. Sympatex cooperates with the Italian yarn specialist SINTERAMA S.P.A., whose trademark “New Life” is certified according to the internationally renowned “Global Recycle Standard”. The “New Life” yarns are made by using recycled PET bottles that are collected and processed in northern Italy. 100% “made in Italy” and 100% transparent. The applied recycling process is a mechanical process without the addition of polluting chemicals. If you compare the production of 1 kg recycled “New Life” fibres with 1kg oil-based polyester fibres, then the ecological balance is excellent: 32% CO2 reduction, 60% less energy and 94% less water consumption. Instead of 60 litres, only around three litres of the limited resource are used.
For the outer material of a standard Sympatex men’s jacket, for instance, 27 PET bottles (0.5 litres) are recycled and thus reused. The outer materials that are made of recycled yarns represent up to 90% of a final Sympatex laminate product. They are a 100% recyclable product due to the 100% recyclable PES membrane. The performance of recycled and non-recycled PES materials is comparable at a high level.
The 100% recycled functional laminate is the combination of the 100% recycled Sympatex membrane and a 100% recycled PES lining or outer fabric. This is where the Sympatex recycling loop closes.
A growing awareness of sustainable materials and a growing worldwide demand in the apparel sector support the positive global aspects of this ecological progress. Conclusion: reduce, reuse, recycle – the environment will benefit from it.
Sympatex developed a patent in 1996 already, which is to help with the product development of a mono-material piece of clothing in order to provide a mono-material raw material for the following recycling process that is as valuable as possible. This patent for the “completely recyclable jacket made of synthetic polymer material” (formerly Akzo Nobel) can be downloaded here.
Piece of clothing
As a logical consequence and an important next step, Sympatex strives to recycle the recyclable membranes and laminates that are used for the piece of clothing and thus to create a closed loop. Sympatex wants to reach the goal of recycling mono-material pieces of clothing in a way that creates high-quality granulate so that the product goes through an “upcycling”.
Together with our WiProNa network partner, Sympatex therefore works on the research project “Introduction of a Return System with Subsequent Recycling”, the closed loop.
Vision of the WiProNa network
By actively working on concepts and technologies to create closed material loops, WiProNa contributes to the protection of the environment as well as our resources and helps to secure our existence. Together with its network partners, Sympatex aims to push the development of innovative approaches to produce and use recycled materials as raw material for new applications and in new sectors. Here, the focus lies on a construction and a material selection that comply with recycling.
By working together for WiProNa, the partners acquire competences for the development of sustainable products and processes, for the production of raw material for recycling as well as for the use of processed and alternative material. Moreover, they identify potential for the efficiency of materials and resources that become accessible in a technological and economic way via the platform.
More information about WiProNa is available on the following link.