We use recycled spandex made from pre-consumer waste fibers.
Spandex is a critical material in our products. Also known as elastane or Lycra, spandex is an elastic polymer (a type of plastic derived from petroleum) that makes garments and trims stretchy, which allows them to be formfitting and enables freedom of movement. Unfortunately, extracting and refining the petroleum used to make this material pollutes land, air and water, and contributes to global warming.
We started experimenting with pre-consumer recycled versions of spandex in recent years, and we first added recycled spandex into our line in 2020. It has the same stretch properties of virgin spandex fiber, while allowing us to make use of materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
There is little to no existing infrastructure for recycling spandex, which makes getting rid of spandex waste a difficult nut to crack. Spandex waste is created as a by-product in the manufacturing process. The waste is collected from production lines and then reincorporated into the raw-material production stage. By using recycled spandex, we can divert waste from landfills and reuse it in products.
For the Spring 2023 season, we’re using recycled spandex in our wetsuits and 30 other styles, including our Happy Hike Studio Pants, Altvia Alpine Pants and Pack Out Hike Tights.
Recycled spandex helps us achieve our goal of moving away from using virgin petroleum sources. Our fabric lab is also testing new polymers that cause less environmental harm, and our material developers are constantly looking at spandex alternatives and fabric constructions that offer functional stretch while also being easy to recycle.