The Lycra Company, which develops apparel fibre and technology solutions, has entered into an agreement with bio-derived chemistries company Qore, to enable what it describes as the ‘world’s first large-scale commercial production of bio-derived spandex using next generation 1,4-butanediol (BDO), as one of its main ingredients.
The Lycra Company says its collaboration with Quore means 70% of lycra fibre content will be derived from annually renewable feedstock. This change could potentially reduce the carbon footprint of lycra fibre by approximately 44%, as opposed to the product made from fossil-based resources, while maintaining the same high-quality performance parameters of the traditional lycra fibre.
The Lycra Company’s CEO Julien Born, said, “As part of our sustainability goals, we are committed to delivering products that support a more circular economy while helping our apparel and personal care customers reduce their footprint. The Lycra Company is especially pleased to collaborate with Qore, a company that shares our vision for innovative, sustainable solutions. Their expertise in operating fermentation processes and understanding of the chemical value chains makes them the ideal partner to help develop a bio-derived lycra fiber at commercial scale.”
Qore’s CEO Jon Veldhouse, added: “This collaboration demonstrates that Qira directly replaces conventional BDO and thus significantly improves the fibre’s sustainability profile. Qira is an innovative platform chemical that can be used in various applications across industries.”
Qira will be produced at Cargill’s biotechnology campus and corn refining operation in Eddyville, Iowa. The facility, which is currently being built, will start operations in 2024. The first renewable lycra fibre made with Qira will be produced at The Lycra Company’s Tuas, Singapore manufacturing site in 2024.
The Lycra Company is currently seeking commitments from brands and retail customers who are pursuing bio-derived solutions for apparel.
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The Lycra Company says the first generation of renewable lycra fibre made with Qira will use feedstock from field corn grown by Iowa farmers, which will subsequently lead to reductions in the carbon footprint.
It also points out that apart from replacing a finite resource with an annually renewable one, another benefit for mills, brands and retailers is there is no change in fibre performance; eliminating the need for any re-engineering of fabrics, patterns, or processes.
The organisation highlights that an equivalent performance was demonstrated in 2014 when the world’s first bio-derived spandex was launched under the Lycra brand.
The Lycra Company explains it has since been granted a patent for the process used to make renewable elastane from bio-derived BDO.