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VF’s Icebreaker Teams with Spinnova on Fully Recyclable Wool

The wool of the future will be fully recyclable, according to textile manufacturer Spinnova and Icebreaker.

The sustainable materials maker and VF Corp. outdoor lifestyle brand—which shirks synthetics in favor of nature-made fabrics—are in the process of crafting a line of circular midlayer garments. The pieces will be made using a blend of merino wool and Spinnova‘s circular fiber designed to be deconstructed and respun for future reuse in new products.

Spinnova and Icebreaker's merino wool fiber will be designed for full recyclability.

Made from raw wood pulp, Spinnova’s fully circular fiber employs a non-chemical-dependent, mechanical process that can be repeated in perpetuity without quality loss. The process and inputs behind the fiber were also conceived to cut down on the use of natural resources—Spinnova requires 99.5 percent less water than cotton, and also emits over 64 percent less carbon. With a notable ability to insulate, Spinnova pairs well with merino wool, which is known for its warmth, breathability and propensity to stand up to wear and tear.

The material company’s partnership with Icebreaker is based around a product development agreement for a material that offers high performance and low ecological impact, Spinnova said. After a product has reached its end-of-life stage, the developed yarn is intended to be separated and reconstituted into fibers for new garments.

The initiative underscores Icebreaker’s ongoing commitment to using and developing sustainable materials and processes. The company has vowed to ditch all plastic fibers by 2023, and 91 percent of its materials are already merino wool or plant-based. The Spinnova partnership will lend new performance capabilities and versatility to a natural fiber Icebreaker already uses.

"The potential to recycle Spinnova into a new fiber again and again makes this disruptively circular.”
“This partnership enables our strategy in developing circular business models and drives forward sustainable design,” Alistair Smith, director of global product design at Icebreaker. The two companies are aligned through their reverence for nature, he added, and “in addition to this shared source of inspiration, the potential to recycle Spinnova into a new fiber again and again makes this disruptively circular.” Spinnova

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Unlike other man-made wood-based fibers, Spinnova is created without the use of chemical dissolving agents, the company said. It has been defined in the Textile Exchange’s Preferred Fibers and Materials Report as one of few options for “Other plant-based fibers.”

“We’re very proud of this collaboration, and excited to keep experimenting how Spinnova can fight climate change as both a sustainable new material and a disruptively circular new material that can be remade over and over again,” added Janne Poranen, CEO and co-founder of the Finnish material startup.

Spinnova also recently teamed with another VF Corp.-owned outdoor brand, The North Face, announcing plans to develop sustainable, high-performance textiles for the company’s outdoor gear in August. To accommodate growing demand for its cellulosic fibers from global brands, the material maker is building its first commercial factory in Finland, which is slated to be completed by the end of 2022. The effort represents the first joint venture between Spinnova and its strategic partner, Suzano, which is the largest international cellulose producer. Within the next 10-12 years, the company aims to reach a production capacity of 1 million tons of Spinnova fiber annually.