Athletic apparel company lululemon athletica gets through a lot of nylon. In fact, nylon is the largest volume of synthetic material currently used to make lululemon products. So, after the company released its first Impact Agenda, complete with social and environmental goals and multi-year strategies to achieve these goals - in October 2020, finding a sustainable replacement for fossil fuel-based nylon seemed like a meaningful place to start.
The company has now announced it has entered into a multi-year collaboration with sustainable materials expert Genomatica to create a lower-impact, plant-based nylon to replace the conventional nylon used in its product range. The agreement represents lululemon’s first-ever equity investment in a sustainable materials company as well as Genomatica’s largest partnership within the retail industry.
Next to helping to meet increasing consumer demand for more environmentally friendly products the collaboration, said the companies, will also help create positive change within the $22 billion global nylon market by building more sustainable supply chains.“The combination of biotechnology, fermentation and renewable feedstocks can provide a powerful means to disrupt the apparel industry through sustainable sourcing,” said Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica
Genomatica uses biotechnology and fermentation to convert plant-based ingredients into widely used chemical building blocks, like those used to make nylon. These building blocks are then converted to pellets and yarns, which can be used in future lululemon products.
“Our partnership with and investment in Genomatica demonstrates our commitment to be a leader in creating products that help build a healthier future for ourselves, for our communities and for our planet,” explained Calvin McDonald, CEO, lululemon.
“Genomatica's bio-based innovations, along with their distinctive track record of successful commercial applications, will help us deliver on our Impact Agenda goals to make 100% of our products with sustainable materials and end-of-use solutions by 2030, as we move toward a circular ecosystem.”
“By transitioning our nylon to renewable content, we will impact over half of the synthetic materials we use in our supply chain,” added Patty Stapp, VP, Raw Materials, lululemon,
The collaboration with Genomatica is one of the many ways lululemon is bringing new, sustainable innovation to its raw materials. Additional examples include the company’s partnership with Mylo, to use a mycelium-based leather, and LanzaTech, for polyester made using recycled carbon emissions.