Patagonia has already achieved Leading Level 4 ranking for circularity in Textile Exchange’s Material Change Insights Report. Now, the outdoor apparel company is looking to do one better with a new sustainable fiber deal.
The deal marks a major milestone for both companies toward making textile circularity an everyday reality. It guarantees Patagonia access to the limited-supply fiber, made from textile waste, over the coming years and secures future sales income for Infinited Fiber Company as it ramps up production.
“Circularity is a marathon, not a sprint,” Patagonia’s lead material developer, Ciara Cates, said. “By partnering with companies like Infinited Fiber Company we are able to build a circularity partnership that not only recycles the products of the past, but builds a circularity plan for the products of the future.”
Infinna is a virgin-quality regenerated textile fiber with the soft and natural look and feel of cotton. It is created from cotton-rich textile waste that is broken down at the molecular level and reborn as new fibers.
Since it is made of cellulose–a building block of all plants–Infinna is biodegradable and contains no microplastics to pollute seas. Clothes made with it can be recycled again in the same process together with other textile waste.
“Patagonia is an industry pioneer in sustainable clothing and practices,” Infinited Fiber Company key account director Kirsi Terho said. “Their environmental standards and requirements for sustainability are top of the league. We are humbled by their stamp of approval for Infinna as the circular alternative to virgin cotton going forward and we’re very proud of the long-term commitment they have now made to using Infinna in their future collections.”
Terho said the two companies have shared goals, which allows them to move forward quickly.
“The beauty of Infinna is that the consumer would never guess it is made from recycled garments,” Cates said. “They will get to experience the same longevity, comfort and softness as a similar product made of virgin materials.”
In April, Infinited Fiber Company announced plans to build a flagship factory in Finland to meet the growing demand for Infinna from global fashion brands. It is currently supplying customers from its R&D and pilot facilities in Espoo and Valkeakoski, Finland.
The planned factory will have an annual production capacity of 30,000 metric tons, which is enough fiber for roughly 100 million T-shirts made with 100 percent Infinna. The company expects to have sold the new factory’s entire output for several years by the close of 2021.
The companies noted that more than 92 million metric tons of textile waste are produced globally every year and most of this ends up in landfills or incinerators. At the same time, textile fiber demand is increasing, with Textile Exchange estimating the global textile fiber market to grow 30 percent to 146 million metric tons by 2030 from 111 million metric tons in 2019.
Infinited Fiber Company’s fiber regeneration technology, which uses cellulose-rich waste streams as its raw material, offers a solution both to stop waste from being wasted and to reduce the burden of the textile industry on the planet’s limited natural resources.