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Biodegradable Polyester Pioneer Raises $8 Million

H&M Group is among the participants behind $8 million in funding for Kintra Fibers, which will use the money to create prototypes from its cutting-edge biodegradable materials that mimic traditional polyester while using much less water and energy, and releasing almost 100 percent fewer greenhouse gases (GHG).

H&M leads the group which also includes Bestseller Invest FWD, Fashion for Good, New York Ventures, Tech Council Ventures and FAB Ventures, among other smaller investors from the fashion industry.

Backing Kintra aligns with the sustainability philosophies of Bestseller, Zara owner Inditex and Reformation, three producers which have formed a consortium whose goal it is to explore more environmentally friendly materials.

The new round of funding will give the industry a much needed push toward achieving its goals of eliminating reliance on materials that compromise the environment as the sustainability movement gains ground.

“Innovations like this that help reduce our reliance on fossil fuel-based synthetics are essential to our sustainability efforts at Reformation, particularly our goal to be Climate Positive by 2025,” said Kathleen Talbot, Reformation’s chief sustainability officer and vice president of operations. “It’s on us as an industry to take an active role in scaling next generation solutions, like Kintra, that have the potential to power the future of fashion.”

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Manufacturers will create prototypes of different kinds to showcase Kintra’s unique yarns which have strength and durability akin to that of traditional polyester although it offers a softer hand. It has a stretch recovery of 10 percent to 15 percent and elegant drape which, in polyester, requires blending it with cotton and spandex.

Kintra’s innovation has been subjected to extensive yarn testing and fashioned into different weaves. Among them are satin wovens, technical outerwear wovens, and knits produced using air-jet texturing and draw-texturing processes.

It is Kintra’s mono-material construction that provides all the performance benefits and makes it easier to recycle than polyester. Comparing its raw materials and resin processes to traditional polyester, Kintra shows a 95 percent reduction in GHG emissions, a 30 percent reduction in water usage and a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption.

Greater energy savings is predicted as Kintra is assessed further. Tests did not include yarn spinning, dyeing, or finishing for which Kintra uses lower temperatures than conventional polyester. Lower temperatures could result in lower Scope 3 emissions in the manufacturing supply chain.

Those behind the funding herald Kintra as revolutionary in the quest for a more environmentally friendly apparel sector.

“Kintra addresses the environmental impact of traditional polyester at every stage, from production to usage and end-o-life, providing a comprehensive solution for a truly circular fashion industry,” according to Alissa Baier-Lentz, COO and co-founder of Kintra Fibers.