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These Trekking Pants Are Made From Castor Plants

Outdoor apparel brand Vaude has introduced a pair of trekking pants that uses a bio-based plastic fiber made from the oil of the castor plant.

“We want to move away from petroleum toward renewable or recycled raw materials,” a spokesman for Vaude, an outdoor company based at the foot of the Alps in Southern Germany, said of the decision to usethe Vestamid Terra from Evonik fiber. “By winter 2021, half of Vaude’s new collection should be made from such materials. Currently, it is already one-third. Crude oil is finite. This is one of the key reasons why the specialty chemical company Evonik developed Vestamid Terra–a plastic that can be produced entirely from renewable raw materials–more than 10 years ago.”

Vestamid Terra can be used in a variety of industries and applications, from plastic buckles to toothbrush bristles. In addition the polyamide has outstanding properties for textiles and can also be spun into filaments.

“The result is a fiber that is very comfortable to wear, has good water management properties, can be dyed well at low temperatures, and also contributes to CO2 savings,“ Uwe Kannengießer, director of optics and filaments in the High Performance Polymers Business Unit at Evonik, said.

Outdoor brand Vaude has introduced a pair of trekking pants that uses a bio-based plastic fiber made from the oil of the castor plant.
Vestamid Terra from Vaude and Evonik. Courtesy

René Bethmann, innovation manager for materials and manufacturing at Vaude, said the yarn’s lower moisture absorption is applicable for outdoor clothing, where a pair of pants should be ready for forays in damp grass or against short rain showers, and it is also an advantage if they dry faster after getting wet and after washing.

“Vestamid Terra is actually a completely new material in our industry,“ Bethmann said.

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Vaude decided to design a pair of trekking pants from the material, the “Skarvan Biobased Pants,” which will be launched for Spring 2021.

Bethmann said the castor bean plant doesn‘t require fertilization or artificial irrigation, grows in dry areas that aren‘t suitable for other types of agriculture and is a popular food for caterpillars but inedible to humans and other mammals. The oil is made from the seeds, but unlike the seeds is completely non-toxic.

“More and more people want sustainable consumption and not to be part of the throwaway society,” Kannengießer from Evonik said.

The spinning mills that produce the yarn from the granulate have to adjust their machines accordingly for the new material, which is also an opportunity for them to expand their product range and innovate, Bethmann noted. An additional advantage is that the entire value chain is located in one region, so no material has to be transported back and forth across several continents between the individual process steps, he added.

Evonik produces Vestamid Terra in China, where the plant itself also grows, and the spinning and textile production are located in Taiwan.

“This new type of material has thus become part of a family that until now has mainly included petroleum-based polyamides for textile fibers, such as the classic polyamide 6 or 6.6,” Bethmann said, with higher abrasion resistance, better tear strength and more elastic elongation.

Vestamid Terra can be easily dyed even at low temperatures, which makes an additional contribution to the CO2 savings. This is an issue to which Evonik says it is paying close attention–the company has set a goal of reducing CO2 emissions as part of its “Strategy 2020+,” which includes its own consumption and possible effects at customers.