Circular Economy, Clothing, Opinion, Recycling

Anorak made from enzymatically recycled polyester

Australian enviro-tech startup Samsara Eco and its partner, athletic apparel, accessories and footwear brand lululemon, have launched the first product made from enzymatically recycled polyester.

The limited edition Packable Anorak jacket is made from a variety of inputs, including mixed plastic waste, lululemon apparel at the end-of-life stage, and converted carbon emissions. The jacket is available for purchase online in Australia, the US and Canada.

Polyester is the most widely used fibre worldwide, accounting for around 80 per cent of the synthetic fibre market and equating to more than 63 million tonnes made each year. It is lightweight, durable, versatile and resistant to fading, crinkling and stains making it a prime choice for apparel, yet the vast majority of discarded polyester items end up in landfills, incinerated or are leaked into the environment.

Samsara Eco’s patent pending recycling technology, EosEco uses a combination of biophysics, chemistry, biology and computer science (including AI) to create plastic-eating enzymes. The enzymes break down waste into raw materials, which are then seamlessly integrated into existing manufacturing processes to make new products — such as the lululemon Packable Anorak jacket. 

“You can’t solve the climate crisis until you solve the plastics crisis and putting an end to fashion waste is critical. Over 90% of fashion waste is currently a one-way ticket to incineration or landfill. Our latest work with lululemon shows the potential to give clothes an infinite life and prevent textiles from ending up in landfills,” said Paul Riley, CEO and founder of Samsara Eco.

Samsara Eco’s recycling process can handle a variety of blended fabric and mixed bale feedstocks including poly/cotton and nylon/elastane blends, carpet fibres, zip ties and airbags.

“We’re committed to maintaining a low carbon footprint during our EosEco enzymatic recycling process. We have optimised enzymes to efficiently recycle PET, polyester and nylon 6,6 at scale. But there are other plastics that need to be recycled, including soft plastics and mixed plastics. Our process has the potential to be used within existing cross-sector supply chains across industries like fashion, automotive and electronics,” said Riley.

In 2023, Samsara Eco announced its partnership with lululemon, and earlier this year the companies unveiled the world’s first enzymatically recycled nylon 6,6 Swiftly long-sleeve top samples. The Packable Anorak jacket represents another breakthrough in textile-to-textile recycling and advancing a circular ecosystem.

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