Performance fabric specialist PrimaLoft has developed what it claims is the first synthetic insulation made from 100% recycled, biodegradable fibre for the outdoor apparel and fashion industries.

Developed over the last four years, PrimaLoft says it has achieved the textile breakthrough without affecting the performance characteristics of the insulation. In accelerated test conditions, PrimaLoft Bio fibres reached near complete biodegradation in 394 days when exposed to the right environment, like landfill or ocean; a highly accelerated rate as compared to the negligible degradation observed in standard polyester, under the same conditions.

PrimaLoft says it has enhanced the fibres to be more attractive to the naturally-occurring microbes found in these environments. The microbes eat away at the fibres at a faster rate, returning the insulation to nature. The biodegradation process leaves behind water, methane, carbon dioxide and biomass.

"With PrimaLoft Bio, PrimaLoft is leading the charge by redefining what sustainability really means," says Mike Joyce, president and CEO of PrimaLoft. "Recycling is a good start but, we are intent on providing a better answer to the environmental issues facing our industry. This technology, the most significant global technology launch in the company's history, provides a solution at the material level, which was key for our vision."

The new development expands on PrimaLoft's sustainability commitment to being "Relentlessly Responsible". To date, the company says it has saved more than 84.7m plastic bottles from landfills, and transformed them into premium insulation technologies. By 2020, PrimaLoft has targetted that 90% of its insulation products will have at least 50% post-consumer recycled (PCR) content, without compromising performance.

Moving forward, PrimaLoft is working to reduce its footprint through the supply chain with an emphasis on finding solutions for reducing energy, carbon emission reduction, utilising biodegradable products and incorporating natural plant-based fibres in its products.

The new technology, the company says, does not change the performance, look or feel of the garment and is expected to be available to consumers in fall 2020.

"PrimaLoft Bio has the potential to transform the outdoor and fashion/lifestyle industries' supply chain," adds Dr Charles Lancelot, a materials technologist who worked alongside PrimaLoft during the testing process. "Over 80% of discarded textile and garment wastes were landfilled in 2014, accounting for nearly 8% of the total waste. This advanced biodegradation technology from PrimaLoft leverages progressive end-of-life material science and demands the attention of every apparel brand interested in making a smaller environmental footprint. PrimaLoft Bio is a leader in its potential conversion to energy-producing biogas during the active production lifetimes of most US landfills, and it is setting a new industry standard for synthetic insulation."