“Stronger-than-steel” fiber Dyneema is now recyclable, thanks to a partnership between the fiber’s parent company and clean-tech company Clariter.
Royal DSM, which owns Dyneema, collaborated with Clariter on a next-generation chemical recycling solution for products based on the ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) fiber. Initial tests proved successful in converting ropes, nets and ballistic materials made with Dyneema into oils, waxes, and solvents, which can further be used as ingredients to manufacture other products.
This is a significant win for the industry, as chemical recycling is integral to the future of circularity. However, despite its need, many businesses remain hesitant due to its newness and associated expenses. The fiber is often used to make fabrics stronger, and is a key feature in cycling jerseys, Patagonia’s Steel Forge denim jacket and jeans, and Naveena’s Fortified Denim collection.
The development follows DSM’s aggressive sustainability targets established at the end of 2019, which included a pledge that at least 60 percent of Dyneema fiber feedstock would be sourced from bio-based raw materials by 2030. Another target was to recycle Dyneema at end-of-use.
“Following our successful efforts to introduce bio-based Dyneema (mass balance), these results mark the next important step on the circularity journey of DSM Protective Materials,” said Roeland Polet, president, DSM Protective Materials. “Recyclability is key to us, our customers, and society at large and achieving it requires cross-value chain efforts. To this end, we’re looking forward to continue building our partnership with Clariter, and to continue using our science-based capabilities to deliver on our purpose of creating brighter lives for all.”
The next step for the companies is to test the recycling process at a commercial scale at Clariter’s facility in South Africa. From there, it aims to use Dyneema-derived feedstock in the European plants that will be developed in the coming years. DSM is also exploring additional ways to make Dyneema more environmentally friendly throughout its product lifetime.