WASHINGTON — Cargill Dow’s polyester fiber made from corn got the federal government’s imprimatur Friday, while DuPont began the process to gain similar recognition for its new-generation polyester.
In ruling on the Cargill Dow fiber’s status, the Federal Trade Commission assigned a generic name to the fiber, PLA, which stands for its chemical makeup, polylactic acid. The generic name can now be listed on FTC-required content labels affixed to garments containing the fiber, which clears the way for PLA to be marketed as a new fiber with distinct properties. NatureWorks is Dow’s registered name for PLA.
The FTC on Friday also said it will start the generic name review process for a DuPont fiber, now known by the registered trademark T400. DuPont maintains the fiber has characteristics of textured polyester and spandex, but is superior to both.
“DuPont asserted that T400 will fill a growing and unmet consumer demand for stretch garments with fibers that can yield quality stretch and recovery without degrading over time like textured polyesters,” the FTC said. “DuPont contends that it would be confusing to consumers if T400 is called simply polyester.”
DuPont has suggested that T400’s generic name be elasterell-p. The company launched the fiber last year for use in knitwear and wovens.
The FTC only issues generic names when companies demonstrate a fiber is distinct from other fibers, has an active commercial use and would benefit the public.
In its application, Cargill Dow argued its polyester variant isn’t a run-of-the-mill polyester because of its chemical makeup derived from sugar-containing plants like corn or beets, not petroleum. The fiber can be used in activewear and home furnishings, and in its resin form may be used in other products. It is lightweight, has low moisture absorption, low flammability and is resistant to ultraviolet light, Cargill Dow said.
Cargill Dow is producing PLA in a new factory in Blair, Neb., opened in November. The company said the plant will eventually produce 300 million pounds of PLA a year and will supply U.S., European and Asia-Pacific markets.