We use recycled nylon made from post-industrial waste fiber and discards from weaving mills and postconsumer fishing nets.
Nylon is one of the strongest plastics we use in our products. When we need a super-lightweight fabric, it’s critical that we use nylon for its strength. With our goal of moving completely from using virgin content to recycled content, we need recycled nylon to continue making some of our favorite technical jackets and garments and to maintain our performance standards.
Incorporating as much recycled nylon as we can lessens our dependence on petroleum as a raw material source. By using this material, we can eliminate discards and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing. Using recycled nylon also helps promote new recycling streams for nylon products that are no longer usable.
For the Fall 2020 season, 67% of the nylon fabric we used contains recycled nylon. Using recycled nylon fabrics this season resulted in an 18% reduction in CO2 emissions when compared to virgin nylon fabrics. This amounts to over 3.5 million pounds of CO2 emission avoided.
We’re making progress
Where We Are
Our goal is to divert nylon from landfills, and we’re making strides. We’ve found a nylon yarn made from a 50/50 blend of pre-consumer and postconsumer nylon.
The postconsumer materials come from products that have been bought, used in the world and then trashed and are destined for the landfill, like plastic bottles, fishing nets, worn-out clothes or discarded carpeting. Pre-consumer waste material comes from industrial processes—scraps of material in a factory that would have otherwise been downcycled, downgraded or sent to a landfill. Most of the nylon we use now comes from a mechanically recycled pre-consumer source. Those materials would have gone into lesser quality goods if we didn’t utilize them.
Most mechanically recycled materials are melted at high temperatures which destroy contaminants and transform the material into a reusable form. Nylon melts at a much lower temperature, leaving contaminants behind. For this reason, nylon must be thoroughly cleaned before being recycled. Good sources of clean, pure postconsumer nylon are difficult to find.
We’re using more postconsumer recycled nylon in our gear and looking for new sources of it. We’re also exploring other options, such as materials made from plant-based alternatives, which will help curb the CO2 emissions associated with material creation.