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Fabric specialist Sympatex has developed a new line of functional materials for footwear in which polyurethane (PU) foams commonly used in the lining of the laminate are completely replaced by a fleece-like compound made from recycled clothing fibres. 

With the new collection, Sympatex says it is not only feeding valuable raw materials back into the textile loop, but is also improving performance since replacing the PU foam with recycled textiles has a positive impact on the breathability of the laminated material.

The recycled textiles are collected by a Sympatex partner in Italy, where they are also integrated into the Sympatex laminate. According to data from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index, omitting the PU foam leads to significant improvements in the eco-balance.

Using conventional manufacturing technologies, 800kg of CO2 is released for every 1,000 linear metres of PU foam, which roughly equates to the amount of CO2 that can be absorbed by 65 beech trees each year or the production of 49 pairs of running shoes. When measured by the manufacture of one linear metre of Sympatex laminate, replacing the foam reduces CO2 emissions by around 15% and water consumption by roughly one-third, the company says.

“While many market partners view sustainability as a stranglehold on creativity, maintaining a clear focus with our innovation processes helps us to concentrate our energy, and thus produce new solutions for our customers at a much faster pace,” says CEO Dr Rüdiger Fox. 

Sympatex will showcase the new line at Italian leather fair Lineapelle this week.

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By GlobalData