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Lululemon Develops "Infinitely Recyclable" Nylon and Polyester Materials

Iran Kenna

May 20, 2023

Lululemon X Samsara Eco's environmentally friendly path.

On May 19, the Sydney-based Australian start-up company Samsara Eco announced an important partnership with Canadian sportswear giant Lululemon to create the world's first infinitely recyclable clothing extracted from clothing waste made of nylon and polyester materials.

This cooperation is also the first time that Lululemon has made a minority equity investment in a recycling company, and the specific amount has not been disclosed. Previously, Samsara has completed a total of US$56 million in Series A financing from investors such as Breakthrough Victoria and Temasek, and its current business partners include Australia's supermarket giant Woolworths Group.

The biotechnology developed by Samsara Eco in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU) can infinitely rebuild new materials by using enzymes to break down plastics into their original structures.

Samsara Eco

Paul Riley, founder and CEO of Samsara Eco, said that nylon and polyester are two of the most commonly used materials in the textile fashion industry. Their complex chemical structure makes them versatile, but they are difficult to break down and recycle. Currently, nylon and polyester account for 60% of the raw materials used in clothing production, but when discarded, 87% of the materials can only be landfilled or incinerated.

The partnership between Samsara Eco and Lululemon will continue for several years. This round of funds will be used to strengthen Samsara's engineering team, develop bio-enzyme libraries, and fund its factory in Melbourne. The facility will be fully used for production, which is expected to start in 2024. It can process 20,000 tons of plastic every year.

Yogendra Dandapure, vice president of raw materials innovation at Lululemon, said: "Nylon remains our biggest opportunity to achieve our 2030 sustainable product goals." The "Be Planet" goal established by Lululemon is to achieve 100% adoption of sustainable products and end-of-use solutions by 2030 to achieve a circular ecosystem.

circular ecosystem

Other sustainable initiatives include: in April, Lululemon partnered with Geno to launch products made from renewable plant-based nylon and Like New, a used clothing sales program.

Dandapure said that Lululemon is focusing on developing and testing a successful nylon and polyester fabric this year, with an eye on future scale development and product plans. "We're aiming to tease the first prototype later this year and will start rolling out small series in the next one to two years."

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