Gore-tex, bionic yarn, sustainability, materials, plastic, waste, oceans, fashion

A new collaboration hopes to deliver an unmatched high-performance fabric from ocean-bound plastic.

Material engineering company Bionic Yarn and W.L. Gore & Associates (maker of Gore-Tex technical fabric) have revealed the next phase of their partnership — stem the tide of ocean-bound plastic with a new textile in development.

“We are excited to work with Bionic Yarn on this important mission to measurably reduce the flow of single-use plastics into the world’s oceans. Together we believe we can make a difference by combining Bionic’s collection, recycling and infrastructure expertise along with Gore’s deep technical knowledge, market scale and supply chain influence,” said Ed Rubin, Gore project champion.

Previously, Bionic Yarn has collaborated with brands such as Chanel, Timberland and H&M Group for its unique material developed from recovered plastic. The company counts Pharrell Williams as a partner and creative director. Gore-Tex is a technical fabric known to the fashion set for its waterproof and breathable properties, having been tapped by Nike, Adidas, Supreme and Palace, among others.

Gore also recently made an equity investment in Bionic Yarn, but the funding amount was not disclosed for privacy reasons. The companies have been working in close unison for the past four years.

The partners built the collection and processing infrastructure to become the “Defacto municipal collection organization” in the small coastal community of Santa Teresa beach, on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica — where the team will also focus on beach cleanup efforts. Because of this wrangling of ocean-bound plastic waste early on, the group affirms transparency, traceability and quality assurance throughout the entire process.

“As we grow, our hope is to expand this mission to other at-risk coastal communities inside and outside Costa Rica,” Rubin added, sharing a goal to hopefully include end-of-life garment recycling in the project’s scope.

While textiles from ocean-bound plastic such as Unifi-produced Repreve are already on the market, the companies are vying for unmatched technical performance to promote longevity.

“By upcycling the ocean-bound and beach plastic we can sequester it in high-performance long-lasting outdoor apparel. Life cycle assessments have consistently shown that durable, high-performing fabrics greatly reduce the environmental impact of a garment. This collaboration will help to test the concept of a traceable supply of high-performing recycled textiles as a value creator in the market,” Rubin reiterated.

The project is in the early stages of product development, having just completed the initial shipment of 10 tons of ocean and ocean-bound plastic waste for conversion into high-performing yarns and textiles.

“We see a great deal of potential for large volumes going forward,” Rubin said.

While this initiative is being driven by Gore’s enterprise innovation team, there is potential for learnings to be incorporated into its fabrics division. The Gore fabrics division recently launched its sustainability platform, outlining a commitment to adapt manufacturing processes to cut carbon footprint, reduce microfiber shedding, increase the input of recycled materials and develop innovative fabrics. It also posted carbon reduction goals.

Rubin said the latest partnership only serves to complement the existing sustainability focus of the Gore-Tex brand.

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