Both inside and outside of the fashion industry, carbon neutrality is an increasingly common sustainability target. As South Korea-based Hyosung Advanced Materials works toward its own carbon-zero goal, its textile division has been expanding its portfolio of sustainable synthetic offerings, which today includes recycled polyester, nylon and spandex as well as bio-based spandex.
To expand on these sustainable material manufacturing efforts, Hyosung is partnering with carbon-negative material firm Origin Materials. Hyosung has inked a multi-year capacity reservation deal with Origin to source carbon-negative inputs for the production of synthetic fibers for apparel, as well as tire cords and battery components.
Headquartered in California, Origin Materials has developed processes that turn carbon from non-food biomass—such as wood—into carbon-negative materials including plastics. Origin’s technology replaces fossil fuel-based resources with renewable plant feedstocks. The plants used captured carbon from the atmosphere while they grew, and the production process sequesters carbon, creating a carbon-negative outcome.
A life cycle assessment from Deloitte that studied Origin’s 5-chloromethylfurfural (CMF), furfural, levulinic acid and hydrothermal carbon (HTC) found that for all four of the materials, the biomass’ carbon storage offset any greenhouse gas emissions stemming from the processes used to create the materials. As a result, Deloitte said they all showed an “environmental benefit.”
For its fiber production, Hyosung will be procuring furanic derivatives from Origin Materials. Hyosung will also purchase PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and PET/F—a hybrid of PET and FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid)—for tire production and HTC for making batteries.
“Partnering with Hyosung Advanced Materials is a significant milestone in our mission to transition the world to sustainable materials,” said Rich Riley, co-CEO of Origin Materials, in a statement. “The opportunity for working together is remarkably broad, and we are excited to develop high-value products for use in a wide range of end markets and applications including batteries, automotive and apparel. Together, we can expand the adoption of Origin’s technology and help drive the ‘once in a planet’ shift to sustainable materials taking place around the world.”
Originally launched in 2008, Origin Materials is now scaling up its production with the upcoming opening of its first commercial plant in Canada’s Ontario province, expanding beyond its existing pilot facility. The factory, which will have the capacity to process about 25,000 metric tons of biomass each year, is expected to begin operations in the second quarter.
In addition to expanding its manufacturing capacity, Origin Materials has been growing the range of materials it produces as well as the applications for its products.
The chemicals produced by Origin Materials have a wide range of uses, including the manufacturing of materials such as polyester and nylon. Prior to its partnership with Hyosung, Origin Materials entered a deal with insulating fiber maker PrimaLoft to create materials for fashion and bedding. Origin also has a supplier partnership with AECI SANS Technical Fibers for products that can be used in the production of clothing, footwear and automotive sewing threads.
As of the fourth quarter of 2022, Origin Materials said its total offtake and capacity reservation agreements surpassed $9.3 billion. The company estimates the addressable market for its products exceeds $1 trillion.
Origin Materials told Sourcing Journal that one benefit of this partnership is Hyosung’s position as a sustainability leader. Hyosung has been recognized by the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) for its climate change mitigation efforts. It earned an A rating from the CDP in 2020 and was part of the carbon management Honors Club during the CDP’s Climate Change Korea Award ceremony.
“We are excited to be a partner with Origin Materials to take this pathway together to net zero through this innovative technology development and commercialization effort,” said Young Joon Lee, vice president at Hyosung, in a statement. “Sustainability is at the heart of Hyosung’s growth strategy, and we firmly believe that our strong partnership will take both of us to the forefront of industry leadership in the renewable materials space.”