Polymer company Covestro has partnered with Austrian cellulosic fibre producer Lenzing Group to develop environmentally-compatible polyurethane (PU) synthetics for the footwear industry.
The environmental compatibility of coated textiles depends on a whole series of factors. For example, the source of the raw materials, the use of organic solvents and the consumption of energy and water are important.
Covestro brings its expertise as a raw material specialist for PU textile coatings, which is based on the water-based Insqin technology to the partnership, while Lenzing offers its expertise in the production of fibres, a wood-based material that is both renewable and natural.
The global warming potential of water-based PU coatings that use the Insqin technology is considerably lower than that of solvent-based systems, Covestro says. While the Tencel Lyocell fibre from Lenzing reduces the ecological footprint of synthetic leather just as much, primarily because it is manufactured using a recycling process that conserves resources.
“As a result, the shoe industry now has access to PU synthetics that set new standards in terms of sustainability – made possible by the combination of unique and innovative solutions from both partners,” says Thomas Michaelis, head of textile coatings at Covestro for the Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America (EMEA/LA) region.