Everybody’s favourite swimwear brand, Speedo has jumped into bed with Aqualfil to launch the world’s first take-back programme for fabric for the swimwear market.
As a result, the new Speedo PowerFLEX Eco swimwear is made from Aquafil’s 100% upcycled ECONYL nylon, with the take-back programme turning leftover fabric scraps back into raw ECONYL – then new ‘Speedos’.
The scrap fabric would have ended up in landfill. Now, it is being being endlessly recycled, creating a closed-loop manufacturing partnership between the two companies.
“We are challenging apparel manufacturers to be more sustainable and restructure their supply chain to divert waste from landfill,” said Giulio Bonazzi, Aquafil’s chairman and CEO. “Our partnership with Speedo USA shows their commitment to the environment with the take-back program, but also their ingenuity in creating products from materials that can be recycled an infinite number of times.
“They are really helping us close the loop and create a more sustainable manufacturing process.”
In the swimwear industry, post-production fabric waste has not been suitable for traditional recycling due to its complex technical composition. However, Aquafil says it has developed a technology that can turn swimwear fabric and other blended waste materials into new raw nylon. The ECONYL Regeneration System takes manufacturing byproduct waste and nylon materials that have reached the end of their product life – such as abandoned fishing nets and old carpets – and re-engineers them into high-quality ECONYL Nylon 6 for the production of new carpets, sportswear and swimwear.
Now, the regeneration process is being used to separate usable nylon from Speedo’s blended post-production fabric scraps. It is then upcycled into raw nylon fiber that can be made into new PowerFLEX Eco swimwear.
In fact, the new products are made up of 78% ECONYL nylon and 22% Extra Life LYCRA – resulting in fabric that “retains its shape up to ten times longer than traditional swimwear fabrics, is resistant to chlorine, sagging and bagging and is offered in styles designed for both performance and fitness”.
**This story first appeared on 2degrees Network here.
Adidas is among the most admired companies in the world, especially when it comes to sustainability.
In January, Corporate Knights, “the magazine for clean capitalism,” ranked the sporting goods and apparel giant No. 3 on its list of the “Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations.” In fact, Adidas was the only textile, apparel or luxury good company that made the list.
That raises the question of what makes the company tick so consistently when it comes to sustainability, despite the financial pressures of the athletic apparel marketplace. It uses an approach most commonly associated with the tech world: Open source innovation.
Think of the phrase “open source,” and perhaps a company such as Google or Facebook or Tesla comes to mind. But what does the concept mean in the adidas context?
According to Alexis Haass, director of sustainability at the company’s global headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany, open source is “comprised of crowd sourcing ideas from four pillars within and outside of [A]didas”:
- Creators — including athletes and artists.
- Communities — individuals and groups of people who want to work with the company. For example, the Brazuca soccer ball, official ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, was named by Brazilians themselves.
- Customers — which results in consistent and open communication and feedback.
- Partners — collaboration with other companies, non-profits and NGOs. BASF, a leader in the sustainable chemistry and green sports worlds, worked with Adidas to create a revolutionary new cushioning material, BOOST, that provides the highest energy return in the industry.
Oceans as innovation catalysts
One of Adidas’ open source innovation partners sits squarely in the sustainability world: Parley for the Oceans, which has a primary goal of getting plastic out of the ocean.
The company was open to partnering with Parley, as there was, per Haass, “an alignment with our principles of how to drive sustainable innovation for our brand.”
A key practical effect of the collaboration, which launched in April, will be the integration of materials made from ocean plastic waste into Adidas products in 2016 and beyond.
In fact, Adidas created a first: A shoe upper made entirely of yarns and filaments reclaimed and recycled from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gillnets. Long term, the Adidas/Parley partnership will focus on communication and education, research and innovation, as well as direct actions against ocean plastic pollution.
The company is not planning to run TV advertising with a “Parley” theme at the moment, but consumers still will play a role in the partnership through future retail rollouts and other promotions.
While ridding the oceans of plastics has no downside, engaging consumers and fans of sports Adidas sponsors (soccer, track and field) on climate change is more challenging.
“We can only engage with fans on topics they can relate to, and people relate to cleaning oceans,” Haass said. “We can’t come off as preaching from on high. That said, climate change is a big topic; we are not going run away from it. We just need to connect with fans in a relatable way when we do talk about and/or take action on climate change.”
The bigger game plan
Adidas is already walking the green walk in terms of its operational sustainability.
About 96 percent of the company’s footwear suppliers are ISO (international quality standard) certified. Building performance, CO2 emissions and water usage are all becoming more efficient. The company committed in 2008 to reduce its carbon emissions by 30 percent by the end of this year, and also has focused heavily on supply chain energy efficiency.
Sustainability also does not only mean environment at Adidas. The issue is looked at through a wider lens of ESG (environmental, social and governmental) issues.
In the run up to the Brazil 2014 World Cup, Adidas focused on the social end of ESG by working with local organizers on a number of grassroots programs, including the “Ginga Social” initiative. This sports-based initiative uses coaches to teach values and life skills to young people ages 7 to 17 in favelas (low-income, high-crime neighborhoods) in Rio de Janeiro, Sâo Paulo and three other host cities.
The “train the trainer” approach equips local coaches with the communication and leadership skills to make an ongoing positive difference in the lives of vulnerable young people in their neighborhoods. In addition, local sports facilities, always in short supply, are refurbished and their lives extended.
Thus far, 2,200 children and teenagers directly have benefited from Ginga Social — and, when one includes family members and others affected, the total number touched by the program rises to about 7,000. Adidas Brazil also decided to continue investing in Ginga Social well after Germany hoisted the championship trophy last July.
Over the long haul, Adidas is betting that ESG and sustainability will be a key business driver, not a drag.
“Consumers make decisions based on the brands they prefer. Sustainability and innovation are two of the key criteria of selection,” Haass said. “Successful companies in the future will be those where sustainability is well integrated in terms of core values, operations as well as consumer acceptance.”
Today, Lindex is publishing its tenth sustainability report. During the past year, 900 million liters of water was saved by Lindex suppliers through cleaner production projects in India and Bangladesh. Lindex also became a partner to WaterAid as an extension of their water related sustainability work.
“Lindex suppliers´ production operations throughout the supply chain are significantly dependent on access to water, and we will continue our collaborations and projects with suppliers and other stakeholders where we are implementing responsible water usage”, says Ingvar Larsson, CEO at Lindex. In 2014, 16.3 million garments were made by sustainable materials which accounts for 22 per cent of the total collections. By 2020 the goal is that at least 80 per cent of Lindex garments are made of more sustainable fibres and all cotton will come from sustainable sources. “We are working steadily ahead towards our sustainability targets and our aim is that all garments are produced using more sustainable processes with less energy, water and chemicals and producing less waste”, says Ingvar Larsson. With the aim to empower factory workers in their supply chain, Lindex has now reached 8,000 female factory workers with education about their personal health. In collaboration with QuizRR, Lindex are now developing a tool that will educate factory workers about their rights and responsibilities. 2014’s yearly collaboration with the Breast Cancer Foundation was a success. “Our design collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier for the Breast Cancer Foundation was a success. Together with our customers, Lindex donated 1.4 MEUR to cancer research and for this we are of course both proud and grateful”, says Ingvar Larsson. During 2014 Lindex also started collecting textile for reuse and recycling in 50 selected stores in Sweden. This was done in cooperation with the app Cirqle and the organisation Myrorna, as a part of the aim to close the material loop. ** This post first appeared here.