YKK Corporation is in the business of growing zippers. The global trims supplier introduced GreenRise, the industry’s first plant-derived zipper, this week at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Denver.
GreenRise is made with a plant-based material that replaces polyester made from conventional fossil fuels. The polyester used is made from molasses, the by-product generated in the sugar production process, thereby allowing YKK to reduce fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in the product cycle. Appropriate applications for the zipper include outdoor and sports apparel and outdoor gear, as well as uniforms, jackets and casual apparel.
GreenRise is the latest innovation from YKK developed to reduce, reuse and round-out apparel brands’ sustainable product stories. The company began to tackle plastic waste five years ago when it introduced the Natulon zipper, a Bluesign-certified zipper made from PET bottles, old fiber and other polyester remnants. YKK reports that 10,000 Natulon zippers of 60 cm length recycle approximately 3,600 plastic bottles.
Additional sustainable products include a line of environmentally friendly snaps and buttons using a new finishing process that reduces thermal energy, water usage, toxic chemicals and waste, and organic cotton zipper tape.
Trim suppliers are stepping up to the market’s demand for sustainable components. And as the world’s largest zipper manufacturer, YKK understands its role in establishing best practices. The company has in place solar modules on the roof of its California facility, resulting in a CO2 offset of 896 tons per year. In Bangladesh, it has a hybrid power generation system that reduced fuel use by 90,000 liters and carbon emissions by 265 tons per year.
In an interview with Rivet earlier this year, the company confirmed that the sustainability department at its Japan headquarters is working on new technologies such as Co2 and solution dyeing to reduce water usage and developing the next generation of metal parts finishing to eliminate the use of harmful chemicals.