In its search for suitable sustainable plastic materials for the fabrics that went into the outdoor clothing it produces, German outdoor manufacturer Vaude took an unusual step. “We approached a chemical company directly, not a fabric manufacturer,“ said René Bethmann, Innovation Manager Materials and Manufacturing at Vaude.
Vaude came to Evonik looking for a high-quality alternative to the petroleum-based polyamide it normally used. The company wanted to find a way to move away from fossil-based materials and to focus on using renewable or recycled ones.
Over ten years ago, Evonik, developed Vestamid Terra, a plastic that can be produced entirely from renewable raw materials - in this case, from the oil of the castor bean plant.
Not only could Vestamid Terra can be used in a variety of industries and applications, it also proved to have outstanding properties for textiles and to be able to be spun into filaments. "The result is a fibre that is very comfortable to wear, has good water management properties, can be dyed well at low temperatures, and also contributes to CO2 savings," says Uwe Kannengießer, Director of Optics & Filaments in the High Performance Polymers Business Unit at Evonik.
Both Evonik and Vaude said they have noticed a significant increase recently in customer demand for environmentally friendly products. “The topic is current,“ said Kannengießer “More and more people want sustainable consumption and not to be part of the throwaway society.”
Vaude tested whether Vestamid Terra could meet the requirements for the company’s outdoor clothing. The company found that it was not only more sustainable, but also offered better properties compared to conventional polyamide fabric, among others, due to the yarn‘s lower moisture absorption, allowing faster drying after washing or exposure to damp or rain.
“Vestamid Terra is actually a completely new material in our industry,“ said René Bethmann “Which is not at all common.“ Evonik has calculated that the CO2 footprint of the biopolyamide is only half that of the production of conventional plastic yarn.
Now on its way into the post-fossil age, Vaude has now decided to design a pair of trekking pants from the material. The new Skarvan Biobased Pants will be launched in spring 2021.
In addition, the company has declared that by winter 2021, half of its new collection will be made from more sustainable materials – up from the current one-third.