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World’s First Biodegradable Synthetic Insulation: PrimaLoft Introduces ‘Bio’

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Apparel insulation maker PrimaLoft debuts PrimaLoft Bio — the first synthetic insulation made from 100 percent recycled, biodegradable fibers.

Synthetic insulation is extremely popular. Other than down collected from waterfowl, it’s pretty much the only option for cold-weather gear. Synthetic insulations are very effective in keeping the wearer warm and comfortable. And animal rights advocates laud them for their inherent lack of animal ingredients.

But synthetics still have one dirty secret: They don’t degrade, resulting in heaps of garbage that is rarely recycled.

Enter PrimaLoft Bio, the first biodegradable synthetic fiber to hit the market.

PrimaLoft Bio: How It Works

According to PrimaLoft, the textile industry is the second dirtiest industry on a global scale — second only to oil. And most textiles are made of  — you guessed it! — oil. Most clothing eventually winds up in landfills, a staggering amount estimated by the EPA at more than 10 million tons each year.

So PrimaLoft altered its fiber technology after four years of research. While the fibers are still synthetic, the brand changed the molecular makeup in a way that allows microbes that naturally occur in landfills and oceans to consume them.

And, at least according to PrimaLoft testing, it works.

In accelerated landfill test conditions, PrimaLoft Bio fibers reached near complete biodegradation (80.3 percent according to PrimaLoft) in 394 days. Once broken down, PrimaLoft Bio fibers leave behind only organic components, including water, methane, carbon dioxide, and biomass.

ASTM D5511 testing — a standardized method to determine anaerobic bidegration of plastic materials — verified the biodegradability of PrimaLoft Bio fibers. The brand adheres to the FTC Green Guide and relevant European standards for its biodegradability claims. PrimaLoft is also testing it in marine environments and said initial results look good.

This synthetic insulation begins as 100 percent postconsumer recycled materials and at the end of its life biodegrades in a landfill environment. So major apparel brands that care about the environment will likely take notice.

PrimaLoft Bio: Durability and Longevity Claims

PrimaLoft claims the insulation retains the durability, usable life cycle, and performance of the competition. The company is currently working with outdoor brands and expects to introduce PrimaLoft Bio to retail in fall 2020.

The formal launch will take place at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, Outdoor Retailer Snow Show, and ISPO.

“PrimaLoft Bio is a game-changing technology for the industry because it provides a solution that goes far beyond recycling,” Mike Joyce, president and CEO of PrimaLoft, told GearJunkie.

“We are reimagining the concept of sustainability, enabling brands and designers to create products that return to nature — establishing a new industry standard that addresses the crisis of global textile waste. PrimaLoft Bio shows amazing promise, and we are already working diligently to bring this technology to other facets of our product line. We will continue to innovate and develop iterations of PrimaLoft Bio as part of our mission to be Relentlessly Responsible.”

These are some big claims that we look forward to testing. As yet, we don’t know how it stacks up functionally to traditional synthetic insulation. But if it holds true that PrimaLoft Bio will reduce the length of time PrimaLoft products remain in our landfills and oceans, it could revolutionize the insulation world for the better.

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