102: Alissa Baier-Lentz, Kintra Fibers & Tricia Carey, Renewcell
Guest Name(s): Alissa Baier-Lentz & Tricia Carey
Episode Audio Links:
Alissa Baier-Lentz & Tricia Carey – A Climate Change with Matern
March 20, 2023
You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host and I’ve got two great guests on the show today Tricia Carey, of Renecell. She’s the Chief Commercial Officer, it’s publicly traded company. And Alissa Baier-Lentz who’s with Kintra Fibers, co-founder and CEO, why we have these two people on the program today is continuing to drill down on the issue of textile and apparel waste, which is such a big issue. I mean, I think I was surprised when I learned that it’s the third biggest source of pollution on the planet.
And roughly 10% of all of our pollution comes from the fashion industry 1.2 billion tons of Co2. So it’s obviously an important thing that we all need to focus on. I was kind of surprised this a little factoid was that how much water it takes to like make a pair jeans, 3,700 liters of water, I mean, or 33 kilograms of carbon to make a pair of jeans.
So it makes me think twice before I pick up the next pair of jeans when I’m walking by and in the store. So I think that’s something that all of us probably need to be more conscious about. If If most of the listeners are like made fairly unconscious when going through the stores up until very recently, not really thinking about the effect of textile pollution and the entire chain that it takes to kind of bring those products to market. We recently had another person on the show who had written that book “Fashionopolis,” by Dana Thomas, and we were talking about cotton. And the fact that cotton it’s not organic cotton takes roughly a kilogram of fertilizer to make a kilogram of cotton.
So this is the kind of impact that we’re seeing if we’re not buying consciously. And so just kind of turning to Tricia, you know, with your work with Renewcell, and having created a circular owes your company, which is a truly circular material as it’s marketed, which is created by taking cellulose material such as cotton clothes and transforming it into this product. How is that going to change the fashion industry going forward?
Thanks, Matt. Great to be here today, it is going to change the fashion industry going forward. Because all those clothes that you buy, and they go away, when you’re done with them, we’re making sure that they don’t just go away that they’re coming back into the textile cycle. What we do is we take unused textiles, post industrial, which means it’s cutting room scraps or post consumer which means what you would throw away, maybe you would give it away even to Goodwill or Salvation Army, we take those textiles and give it a new life by taking the cellulose.
So we take the molecule, we keep that molecule alive, we make it we process it into a pulp which we brand the pulp is circulated. And then we sell that pulp to a viscose fiber producers around the world. And we are the first to scale this textile to textile recycling. We have our first production facility in Sweden with 60,000 tons we can process a year we are doubling that in the next year to 120,000 tonnes and our ambition is to get to 360,000 tonnes of pulp by 2030.
So what would that what would that entail 360 billion pounds of pulp in terms of amount of clothes because I understand we’re consuming roughly 180 to 100 billion pieces of clothes a year get produced.
So 360,000 tons of pulp, which would be the equivalent of about 1.5 billion t-shirts a year that we would be able to recycle. It’s huge. These numbers I think they’re there’s something that consumers can’t even fathom of how Large is when you say it’s 100 billion garments. It’s 92 million tonnes of 92 million tonnes of waste a year that is going into landfill. That’s huge.
Yeah, that is incredibly large. And another source of pollution coming out of the landfills is methane, which is an even more powerful greenhouse gas than co2, which I think a lot of the experts that I’ve been talking to recently are talking about how really got to have our eye on the methane ball even more than co2, because it’s a more powerful gas in the short term, which is going to get us in even more trouble. So anything we can keep out of a landfill is a good thing.
Well, Alissa, I wanted to turn to you with Kintra Fibers and the work that your company is doing in this area, you guys have developed a bio based compostable polymer. And it’s kind of mind boggling, doing a little research on this, that 63% of textiles are made with polyester, which is 70 million barrels of oil that it takes and 200 years to break down those polyesters. So what are you all doing to kind of save us from this polyester situation?
Well, thank you, I’m thrilled to be here today. Yes, it’s a mind boggling problem. You know, together with nylon, synthetic textiles represent 64% of our global fiber production. And polyester alone is 52%. And rapidly growing. The reason that polyester is rapidly growing is from a design perspective, polyester is a great material, it’s easy to make, it’s versatile, we see polyester show up and everything from luxury, athletic to ready to wear apparel, and it’s really, you know, taken the fashion industry kind of by storm since the invention of synthetic since they entered our production system and infrastructure. So with that in mind, you know, of course, because this traditional polyester, PET is probably what I may refer to it throughout the remainder of our conversation here.
That is a polymer that is non biodegradable, it doesn’t go back to nature, through natural, the justice digestion process by bacteria. And that’s why you know, what we are seeing happening together now in our in our textile waste the same that’s happening in our plastic bottles. This is the same material that is used in our plastic bottles today. And so I can try, we have created an entirely new polymer in the polyester category. So no longer do brands only have to have the option of using this one type of polyester PET that has all these problems. It’s derived from fossil fuels. It doesn’t get back to nature through natural processes. And it leads to these mountains of textile waste, and also another form of plastic pollution through washing our garments.
Every time we wash our plastic base garments. Fibrous plastic is released through the laundry. And the equivalent of that is pretty astonishing. It’s the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles getting through our laundry, every single year out into the oceans, into our ecosystem, and eventually back into our own bloodstream.
So I can craft. Your approach is let’s take the good of synthetics, let’s take this ease of manufacturing, let’s make sure that our material can fit these industrial infrastructure processes that again service 52% of the global fiber market. Let’s take the versatility of the design the ability to fine tune the performance. But let’s change all the bad.
Let’s start from entirely renewable bio-based sources instead of fossil fuel based origins. And let’s arrange the molecular structure of our material in a way that is similar to cotton, or cellulosic fiber can actually degrade biodegrade naturally to non harmful natural elements through a standard process within oxygen rich environments like a wastewater treatment facility, giving us a really good chance at addressing this unseen microfiber pollution problem.
And one thing that we can also see it happening now in the future is chemical recycling as a solution for the PET type of plastic out there. Let’s make sure that our material has a polyester can fit this chemical recycling infrastructure. So it can be textile back to raw material input circularity stream. So that’s our approach is let’s keep the good or Um, traditional manufacturing, but let’s eliminate the bat so I can craft our materials bio based, compostable specifically can degrade and these oxygen rich environments, and a fit to the chemical recycling infrastructure infrastructure being developed for the polyesters of the world?
Well, I guess I have the question for you. Similar to what I had for Tricia, is how, how quickly scaling? And how fast can we see this type of technology developed by your company, and hopefully others like it to really make up a substantial portion of the garments that we wear?
That’s a great question. So at Kintra, we are a little bit earlier stage, then over at Church’s company, we are scaling up this year. So in 2020, my co founder and I came together raised our first round of funding in 2021, we were on commercial equipment, out of the lab and on commercial equipment within 12 months.
And last year, 2022 was all about finding the right brand partners to take us from the R&D facilities that have this commercial equipment, to true commercial manufacturing partners to allow us to scale. So we found those partners last year and this year, we’re beginning those first steps of integrating into these commercial facilities to start servicing our brand partners in a more meaningful manner.
Well, congratulations for getting up and running so quickly. You’re listening to a climate change. I’ve got two great guests. With us on the program today, Alissa bear lens and Tricia Carey, who were talking to us about fashion industry, we’ll be right back in just one minute.
You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern. And I’ve got Tricia Carey and Alissa Baier-Lentz with me.
Tricia, you know, with Renewcell, it is a little bit more mature company than Kintra Fibers. Tell us how how you got there and kind of what the path forward is? And how big is this market in terms of other companies and kind of what can we all do to encourage growth of this vital kind of space of, of fashion companies that are actually thinking about the environment.
So not our journey, Renewcell actually started more than 10 years ago. And it started in the in the lab, and scientists from kth that developed this idea and concept really based off of what was happening with wood pulp industry. And within what renew Sal has developed then over the past 10 years, building your partners that are that are going to take you to commercial reality testing things.
And you have to find in our case, strong partners that are fiber producers that are willing to take the time to invest not only in the technology of what needs to happen, but in the commercial push that needs to happen as well.
And we talk about the linear approach as a supply chain. But we look at circularity, we’re shifting the model from linear to circular, where you have this network approach. So now it’s important to understand what chemistry is being involved to make the textiles that we would then have to take back into our cycle. So we two years ago, or we became public on the NASDAQ in Sweden.
And since that time, it was really how we could ramp up and build this first scale production facility, which we did. It’s in students Hall, which is about three and a half hours north of Stockholm, and it’s a Brownfield. So how we can take an old pulp mill paper pulp mill, and turn that now into a part of the circular economy, which is the new direction forward. So we took this pulp mill, we actually employed many of the workers who were laid off, we were able to reuse equipment again in order to make our pulp.
And now we have other partners. Actually, h&m is our second largest investor. So we do have a lot of programs with H&M. We’ve had Zara, Levi’s, PVH. Actually, today, we just launched a new program with Tommy Hilfiger. So we were able to work with some of these larger companies in order to scale the technology, which is key to everything that’s happening within this age of innovation around next generation materials.
Oh, let’s uh, where do you see this kind of going? Well What is the eco-sphere of, you know, your kind of side of the business, which is the compostable polymers? How is that growing?
Yeah, that’s a great question. So I really love what Tricia said about, you know, the the network effect and each party through what was previously the linear supply chain. And this new circular approach needs to fit and work together, communicate together, and make sure that by the time the product reaches commercial shelves, it stays true to the promise that we are setting out to deliver to our, we kind of see our brands customers as our customers too, or, you know, we’re all stewards of the planet. So that for us entails working with mill partners that share our vision of ensuring that our material is truly environmentally safe.
So that means safe dyeing processes, safe chemistries that can be applied to the material as a coating, or otherwise. And we’re in the early days of this, but one thing that was very surprising to me, is I thought I would have to kind of convince manufacturers or Mills or you know, really drive a hard sell, to bring them on to this new way of thinking. And I am so happy to share that I couldn’t have been more wrong. We have manufacturers reaching out to us actively, actively bringing ideas to the table of how, you know, they bring, they’re just using dying as an example.
They’re bringing their dying experience and expertise. And working with us to understand our expertise from this new material, which in the dying example, we can fit on that same equipment will augment the temperature, which also by the way, anytime we do something on a lower temperature and our materials designed to provide high yield, maintain production efficiency, but doing everything on a much lower temperature than traditional polyester, that reduces scope, three emissions. And that also reduces cost for these manufacturers. So we’re working together to find the benefit.
We’re working together sharing their knowledge on these dyeing finishing processes, but doing it in a way that is aligned with environmental promise of kintra, which is a safe and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional polyester. So I’m thrilled to share that, you know, in our case, we have these partners that are ready to begin working with us. And we’re really seeing that value chain coming around this idea of circularity,
Well, that that is helpful. And, and I think optimistically I believe that a lot of people around the world are asking of asking this of the companies that they’re working with and buying products of, and investors are asking this question from an ESG point of view. And so that that has gotten capitalism kind of pointed in the right direction, which is, in order to build a good company, you have to be thinking about what’s in what the environmental impact of this company is.
And people are asking that question. And so people who want to make money, they may have zero interest in the environment, but they recognize that this is the way of the future and you need to align, making doing, doing right with doing good and are doing well. Can’t remember how that phrase is, is played out. But I think the bottom line is, we need to be thinking about both. And it’s good to see that this is finally lining up.
Tricia kind of just wanted to step back a bit and say, Well, how did you get to this place? How did you get to renew? So what was the arc of your journey? Probably I would imagine earlier in your career. I don’t know if fashion industry was quite where it is today in terms of thinking about its climate impact.
The fashion industry when I first started in the mid 1990s was not at all like it is today than it was domestic industry. And you knew where you were sourcing within the country, okay, maybe within the hemisphere. But certainly I’ve been through the patterns now of seeing where Asia opened up. And I I see also the shifts that happen every 20 years and now we’re at this evolution within the industry around sustainability, circularity, climate, action, transparency are all coming together.
But most recently within my career and my background is actually in manmade cellulosic fibers, I was lensing fibers for more than 20 years, working with the Tencel Lyocell brand and bringing that to market. So I started with with lensing in 1998. So I was able to see the progression and the building of a brand. So an ingredient brand like 10 Cell, that takes, you know quite a bit to bring it into market.
Now, what’s amazing is that we have all these digital channels to communicate. And as an ingredient brand, you’re able to go from B to B to C, and connect with the consumer through all the co-branding that happens with the brands. So definitely the industry has certainly changed. Before it used to be okay, we’re buying a garment, but we don’t know where it’s coming from, we’re just gonna buy a full package.
Now people want to know where they’re buying all the ingredients from, they want to know the social impacts. And I think what you were saying before, around, you know, what investors look at and planet people profit, the triple bottom line has changed a bit. Now it’s around purpose and progress and process, the systemic change that needs to happen around circularity.
Yeah, I mean, it’s quite mind blowing as to when I started studying economics in the early 80s, a long time ago, and a planet far, far away. Yeah, we didn’t talk about this stuff. For the most part. I mean, there was some discussion about externalities and whatever. But I mean, it was really like the bottom line. And so it’s it’s heartening to see business start to take into consideration the pollution impacts that would have been nice if it had started 35 years ago.
But I guess we take it, where we where we find it. And it’s taken a long time to change the thinking in the business community, unfortunately, but that’s what it is.
Alissa, what was your background? Let’s backtrack with you as to what brought you to to starting Kintra Fibers.
Oh, so true. It really is. My co-founder and I coming together. So my co-founder, well, I’ll share how I met my co founder. And then I’ll share our founding values. But I was a designer, I started my own backpack mine back in 2016. And I made backpacks that gave back to girls education, to communities, rural communities have girls all around the world, that would be the first in their family to graduate.
And I was I attended my first climate conference at around the same time that my business is starting to grow and scale, I was looking at expanding my product, product line and collections. And I learned the impacts of the materials that I was using, I was using traditional synthetic materials because they had the performance that I needed, and they were sold at the price that I needed. And I learned that over 70%, or sorry, just about 70% of the fashion industry’s emissions comes from these energy intensive, raw material production.
That’s the raw materials themselves, the yarn and the preparation. So that really is the the main impact driving the fashion industry is raw materials. Once I learned that, and then I learned about microfiber pollution, I look to recycled synthetics as maybe a solution learned about the microfiber pollution problem with that I could no longer use these materials. And I started my journey to try and find a material that I could afford at the price point that you know was attainable to me and performed in a way that was similar to the synthetics that I was using.
And instead of finding a new material, and then my co founder, my co founder is a nano engineer and he was working at a fast growing 3d printing company up in the Silicon Valley. On the weekends he enjoyed surfing, when he learned about microfiber pollution, it really hit home. And so he set out on a journey to solve it. And he was looking for polymer that exists in the world is that it polymer, but has not been used in the fashion industry.
And the three criteria for this material are what Khidr is that the inputs used to make the material the molecular building blocks and 100% renewable resources instead of fossil fuels, that the arrangement of these molecules together in the polymer can naturally degrade biodegrade into non non toxic harmless elements back to the earth. And option number three is for circularity that I can fit chemical recycling infrastructure as a polyester.
And so my co-founder found a material out there that is used in you know, other types of plastic and he changed the chemistry. So he created a new type of chemistry based on an existing polymer. And the changes that he made made this material amendable to the melt spinning or fiber extrusion process that is used to produce polyester all around the world. Together, you know me having the challenges as a designer looking for any material and the solutions that my co founder was working on.
And then we came together and found some brands join us some investors to join us and are now in the process of scaling that.
Well, it’s pretty amazing story I love. But you’re listening to A Climate Change. We’ll be right back in just one minute to talk though what’s and Tricia about how the garment industry is changing as we move forward.
You’re listening to A Climate Change, I want to talk to you a little bit about what you just said. And kind of the, the luck, I guess, or the universe coming together and you finding a person who was doing exactly what you needed to have done in order to make your designs work.
What a fantastic story, and I hated to cut that off. So where where does it go to next? And are there similar brands out there? They’re trying to do things that you’re trying to do in terms of creating more compostable fibers, compostable polymers, so that we don’t have so many garments rotting in landfills?
Thank you, Matt. And that’s a great question. And, and yes, it turned out, I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t the only one out there that was looking for material that could perform the way that I needed it to and was sold at the price that it used to, without, you know, sacrificing the planet. There are so many brands out there, you know, even in just the short time that kintra has been really since our launch, I guess effectively or earnings meant that we were setting out to do this.
We’ve had over 500 brands reach out to us and about 100 manufacturing partners. So the demand is out there. And you know, we are slowly starting our scale of journey to be able to work with these partners, there are a number of brands that come to mind does kind of leading the edge. I know we’re using the word compostable polymer quite frequently. And just one thing I want to share here is the reason that Kintra has a compostable chemistry, and it’s specifically structure to the material that can biodegrade and oxygen rich environments, like a wastewater treatment facility. The reason that we have designed the material in this way is to address microfiber pollution.
We’ve already completed a full compost certification study that shows that our material does in fact, fully degrade in this natural oxygen rich environment. And now we’re starting the long journey of really ensuring that any microfiber that reaches a wastewater treatment facility can actually be treated can break down into co2 and h2o within the confines of that wastewater treatment facility. They do believe there is a future vision where any, you know, manufacturing floor scraps, or even post consumer textiles may find their way into a compost instead of a landfill.
But the value proposition that we see as being a textile solution for us is again fitting this chemical recycling infrastructure. Sounds scary. But chemical recycling, just like the manufacturing of a polymer is bringing two or multiple monomers together, those building blocks together with heat and water and pressure, you can take those apart and reuse those same building blocks to create new material.
So for our future forward vision for textile waste, we really see fitting this chemical recycling infrastructure as being part of the solution, and making sure that we have this compostable structure that can address microfiber pollution within that wastewater treatment facility before it gets out and into the soil, water, soil and back into our own systems.
Well, I never I bet you never thought you were going to learn this much chemistry when you were learning to design stuff. But it’s it’s very impressive that you have learned as much as you have and speaks so eloquently about it. I guess, something to underline, I think for the audience, and I you know, because it blew me away, as I started to learn about it was the microfibers that come from just washing kind of these polyester normal polyester products goes out into the wastewater, and is an incredibly devastating form of pollution. And so tell us a little bit about how your product would solve for that.
Yeah, that’s a great question. And it is devastating. It’s quite terrifying about 70% of the microfibers that were discovered in previously pristine Arctic waters were these polyester synthetic fibers. And you know, we are they’ve been found in our own bloodstream. They’ve been found And across crops, that service or food systems they live in and found in a women’s placenta as they’re affecting unborn babies in ways that we haven’t quantified and don’t understand today.
So our approach I can try is, let’s design for this problem that we know it’s happening, let’s build in a solution. And our cap our chemistry, our material has an inherently compostable structure. So very similar to a cotton or a cellulosic fiber that hasn’t been coated with something that would prevent the accessibility to the material itself, an uncoated or anything that means this is when I was speaking a little bit about the mills that we’re working with, we have a responsibility to ensure that the dyes that are used on our material, any coatings wouldn’t affect the composability of the fibers that are shed. So that’s something where we’re taking responsibility for working with through our value chain, but the material itself has an inherently compostable structure. So just like a natural fiber, it can biodegrade in these oxygen rich environments.
Well, Tricia, in terms of your the product that you’re working with, is kind of not exactly from the chemical world, it’s from, from these old cotton garments that are being recycled. How much? How many of these garments that we have are being recycled in Will there be a sufficient supply? If you bring your operation up to scale where you’re making enough material to to create a 1.5 billion T shirts?
Yes, Matt. And so the garments that we’re using, we’re using cellulose. So we’re using we’re taking from nature and keeping that cellulose going, there’s no need to go out and cut down trees when we have what we need. And certainly what we produce because we’re throwing away, you know, 90 million tons of fiber a year of that, if you look at the total amount of fibers that are produced every year, it’s about 110 million tonnes. 25% of that more or less is cotton, which is cellulose. And that’s what we’re taking about another 6% is manmade cellulose six, which we can also use.
So what we use right now, our spec that we’re using for textiles, is that it’s 95% cellulose, we can manage 5%, spandex synthetics, even sewing thread, probably consumers don’t know this, but sewing thread typically is synthetic because of the strength that’s needed for the scenes of the sewing thread. So we can manage that. And we can separate out some of those synthetic fibers. Will we have enough waste?
Well, you know, if we look at what we need to harvest in the closets, we know that 85% of what’s being thrown away, is not being used, you know, 15% is being recycled, and less than 1% of that is actually textile to textile recycling. So there’s plenty of textiles that are unused, whether you want to call them spent textiles or, or textiles that we can find more value for. And that will come I see it in a couple of ways. We can use the cutting room textiles, the post industrial, we can harvest closets of you know of textiles that weren’t in the garments weren’t necessarily designed to be circular.
And that’s the challenging part. Actually, what we’re dealing with now is probably the most difficult because it wasn’t meant to be recycled. But as we develop more in time, designers will be designing into recyclability and circularity with that. So for example, components need to be removed. You talked about buying a pair of jeans, well, those jeans might have a leather patch on them, how do we manage that they might have metal rivets, that right now we can remove metal, we can separate that within our process.
But designers will be looking at new ways to develop garments that can be recycled. And I think this is the beauty of our industry. It’s the art and craft coming together with the business side of it. So combining both of those. So ultimately in the future, we do feel like there is there will be enough waste that we can use for our process. And we will also expand our specifications to get down to 90% cellulose that’s pretty impressive.
You know I it’s fascinating to see all the different pieces of this come together. You think something as simple as a pair of jeans, but there’s so much stuff that goes into it. Somebody you know I was talking well to Dana Thomas about the fashion apple so I’m talking about all the chemicals that are in those jeans, as well it’s it’s kind of mind boggling that it isn’t just denim. It’s all these chemical dyes.
So we’ll be right back in just one minute. You’re listening to A Climate Change.
You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern with Tricia Carey and Alissa Baier-Lentz on the program from Renewcell and Kintra Fibers.
I wanted to talk to you both I mean, about this design for recyclability that we had discussed in the last segment, as well as some governmental policies regarding recycling and where that takes the industry and those of us who are consumers next. I mean, I guess part of it is, it certainly feels a little heavy, sometimes talking about this, because there’s so many different problems related with our garment business.
And who would have thought it I mean, it’s, it’s kind of easier to go around blindly unconscious than to actually wake up to this reality. Sometimes, but I mean, obviously, you guys are doing great work, and I appreciate it. So tell us a little bit Tricia about design for recyclability. In in what you’re doing, I know, you’ve kind of started talking about it, and also the policy stuff on governmental recycling regulations.
Yes, designing for recyclability will be a next hurdle that we’ll have to get over as an industry. And a part of it is that designers need to know what those specifications are. There are different NGOs and associations that are working to bring us all together around this. I mean, typically you look at we might have around the table, retailers and brands that are typically known as competitors. But around these topics of circularity, and sustainability, we know we have to come together as an industry. For example, one industry or one NGO is accelerating circularity.
And they’re working on trials that how we can work together within specific regional geographies, to develop products that are developed from circular materials and can be recycled again. But what’s very encouraging is the changes that are coming along in policy in Europe. And with renew sell, being a Swedish based company.
There, we see a lot of changes with the European Green Deal, many of the policy effects will come into place in 2025, especially around EPR, which is expense expense, extended producer responsibility, we also see that this will impact global brands, if you look at gap or Levi’s PVH, their global brands, they have to design to the highest standard of the regions that they’re selling in. It is very encouraging. Also, what’s happening in the United States, oh, toes stop, just I just wanted to jump in there for one second and underline or expand on that point of the responsibility of the producers downstream. And this is a very new concept, but I think it holds great hope for our system if it can actually work.
Yeah, but the extended producer responsibility, it’s the company that sold that product that has to take responsibility for what’s going to happen to it after the consumer is done with it. So that could be resale. And you see some of these models already happening now. Where you have brands who have that you can resell through their websites, or they have to look at ways that it is responsibly recycled.
Again. I think more of this will come into play too, as we see this happening in the United States. Massachusetts has passed legislation, I think that was November 1 that they passed it that you cannot just throw away textiles that you have to recycle. And there actually is a hierarchy of waste, we call it so that could be you know less consumption. It could be recycling it somehow it could be reselling it could be repairing it. So there’s a whole different set of steps of how we can manage textile waste. It’s also very encouraging. There’s a policy that’s up for up to be passed in California, and this would have probably the most stringent EPR regulations for the United States around textiles.
And what what would that look like?
That would look like again that any brands would have to there, they would have to take back any of the garments that that that they produce. So it’s again, you’re not going to see a lot that’s that’s being publicized now around textile waste that’s being shipped to the global South, seeing those terrible things where there’s just mounds of clothes in South Africa, and the pollution that that’s creating.
Right, right, we tend to think we’re giving away is a good thing. But it ends up being they don’t need it. And it just creates pollution in these poor countries where they don’t need more pollution and more waste. So Alissa, back to you. What about your company in the designing for recyclability? What what’s happening on that front?
Yeah, I think this is a great question. And that was a great overview that that trichologist provided of what’s going on in the landscape. And, Matt, on my end, you know, I see this in my conversations, day to day, week to week with our brand partners, one of the first questions that, you know, comes up is, how can how, how can What do we do? After this garment is, you know, sold? And we have recollected it? Where does it go? And that’s where, again, we we talk about the chemical recycling, we asked them, Do they have partners, they’re starting to work with on the chemical recycling piece, because we can fit that infrastructure that is being built out and developed.
It’s in the early days, but it is being worked on actively. And the other thing that we talk to brands about is well, have you thought about compost as a waste stream? And the answer is usually no. But you know, I do believe that that will become more frequently an option that brands consider at the end of life. So on our end, you know, we begin to have these conversations about end of life at the very start. And our properties that we look at I can try you know, as a material science company as developing a material that is a polyester that is versatile, where we can fine tune performance, we ask brands, what are their biggest problems.
And what we have typically heard and what we are moving forward with with our brand partners is that they struggle to find a material that can deliver strong, soft with some stretch recovery performance, they typically blend traditional polyester, cotton and spandex even if it’s some of the mills I’ve spoken to, they say they blend point one 2% spandex just for comfort, drape and fit, that can track the measurements that we’re seeing on our fabrics and are yarns that we’ve developed to date, so that our materials inherently strong, soft, some stretch recovery. So we can potentially eliminate the need for designers to blend these different fibers together, deliver that same performance and a mono material construction, which of course helps the recycling infrastructure that is being built out whether that is chemical recycling, which is great for our material, or mechanical recycling, physical recycling system that is already in place.
Now in terms of the chemical recycling, that you’re talking about, where are we at in that process? And is your company going to do it itself or rely upon third parties that will jump into that space?
That’s a great question. It’s in its early stages. As Tricia mentioned earlier, about 1% of textiles are currently recycled from textile to textile recycling systems. And the good news is that we are connected with the innovators are out there building growing scaling, they have active partners that they’re working with. And one other thing that really caught my ear that Tricia mentioned earlier is, you know, we’re seeing these brands collaborate in a pre competitive space.
So as Tricia mentioned, brands that are typically seen as competitors are coming together. And we’re seeing these brands come together around chemical recycling innovators, which we would be working with and getting into their infrastructure that they’re developing for end of life. And many of these partners are the same ones that we’re talking to, as well. So we’re already starting to see this circularity system start to come together with our frontier brand partners that are really leading the industry forward.
Well, that’s great. It’s great to see that the the Eco sphere of this industry has changed so remarkably, over the last 30 years, and it’s starting to come up with solutions for the problems that result from all of us wanting to wear nice garments. And I guess that we’ve kind of suffered from our own successes Society of becoming richer and being able to afford more material goods.
The the downside of that is they take energy and chemicals to make a lot of time times and we haven’t been as cognizant of, of that downside when we were consuming. So now, I believe the light bulbs are coming on here, we need to focus on Oh, geez, a pair of jeans actually has this very substantial cost, what can we do to, to make that cost less and actually make it truly circular and sustainable. And that’s a that’s an enormous challenge.
Tricia, what do you see is kind of the call to action going forward, in terms of what we all can do to, to make this shift happen and happen maybe more quickly.
Things that I think consumers really need to investigate and, you know, read up more about what they are buying, buy from brands, your dollars are really deciding the future of the industry. And so to really understand how those garments are being made, where they’re being made, there’s a lot of information online that you can research on that and consume less with more value, buy, buy something better, and keep it a longer time. And then when you’re done with it, dispose of it responsibly, it’s going to have to happen.
If people want to know more about our company, you can find out information on Instagram, we have Circulose, which is our brand name, you can find information there about garments that are dropping all the time. And you can find out ways then to purchase those. But I think most of all, it’s to be the educated consumer and buy responsibly.
Thank you very much. And Alissa, I’ll let you have the last word. Tell us what’s your call to action. Tell us a little bit about where we can find you.
Well, thank you, Matt. Great to be here today. And, you know, I would say the last word we can leave up to the listeners, I would say let’s I would encourage them all to use their voice to be aware of the policy shift to get out there learn and research and just be aware of the materials that they surround themselves in, in their everyday life.
Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure talking with you both. tune back in next week listening to a climate change.
(Note: this is an automatic transcription and may have errors in formatting and grammar.)
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