At this year’s Lineapelle (February 20-22, Milan), Sympatex premiered a new line of functional materials for footwear in which PU foams commonly used in the lining of the laminate are completely replaced by a nonwoven compound made from recycled clothing fibers. This innovation dovetails with several of the ecological goals set down in the Sympatex “Agenda 2020” sustainability strategy: avoiding waste while reusing valuable and scarce raw materials, replacing controversial chemicals with more sustainable alternatives, reducing CO2 emissions and significantly reducing water consumption during the production of the laminate. With the new footwear line, Sympatex is not only feeding valuable raw materials back into the textile loop while curbing CO2 emissions. The material also boasts impressive performance. Replacing the PU foam with recycled textiles has a decidedly positive impact on the breathability of the laminated material.
The recycled textiles are collected by a Sympatex partner in Italy, where they are also integrated into the Sympatex laminate. According to data from the SAC (Sustainable Apparel Coalition) HIGG Index, omitting the PU foam leads to significant improvements in the ecobalance. Using conventional manufacturing technologies, 800 kg of CO2 are released for every 1,000 linear meters of PU foam, which roughly equates to the amount of CO2 that can be absorbed by 65 beech trees each year, or the production of 49 pairs of running shoes. When measured by the manufacture of one linear meter of Sympatex laminate, replacing the foam reduces CO2 emissions by around 15 percent, and water consumption by roughly one-third.
“It is our conviction that our firm commitment to sustainability is serving as an impetus for innovation, becomes again evident in this new footwear line of materials in a highly-convincing fashion,” explains Dr. Rüdiger Fox, CEO at Sympatex Technologies. “While many market partners view sustainability as a stranglehold on creativity, maintaining a clear focus with our innovation processes helps us to concentrate our energy, and thus produce new solutions for our customers at a much faster pace. We encourage the market to resort to these solutions in order to prepare for an unavoidable future in which there will be clear limits placed on the current overexploitation of our resources,” adds Fox.