Eastman Chemical Co. is using 40 percent recycled waste plastics in its new line of Naia Renew-brand cellulosics fibers.
The remaining 60 percent of the fibers is made of wood pulp. The materials, which are targeted at the women's apparel market, capture the value of hard-to-recycle materials that would otherwise go into landfills, according to Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman.
According to the company, Naia Renew can be produced at scale to deliver sustainability without compromise to the fashion world.
"We try to have a holistic view and look for more solutions around waste," Global Textiles Marketing Director Ruth Farrell said in an interview with Plastics News. "We're getting a good response. … [Naia Renew] marries the bio-based in wood pulp with recycling."
The new fibers can use up to seven different kinds of waste plastics — including polyolefins, PET or polyurethanes — without affecting the performance of the final product. More than half of the plastic waste being used to make Naia Renew at a plant in Kingsport comes from post-consumer polyester carpet.
"There's zero trade-off," Farrell said. "This is truly using waste material with the same quality as standard material.
"We want to push circularity and make sustainable fashion accessible to all. We don't want to be niche."
Farrell added that although there's been a lot of dialogue around sustainability in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic "changed intentionality."
"Now we're seeing the real intentions of if people want to be sustainable or not," she said.
Naia Renew is available as both a filament yarn and a staple fiber. The material is produced with a low carbon footprint in a closed-loop process where solvents are safely recycled back into the system for reuse.
The fiber is made from wood pulp sourced from certified forests, and the recycled plastics feedstock is generated via Eastman's patented carbon renewal technology.
Eastman CRT is an integrated, molecular recycling technology that breaks down waste plastics, such as post-consumer carpet fiber and plastic packaging materials, into basic molecular building blocks for the manufacture of new products, including fibers.
Officials said that Eastman is actively collaborating across the value chain for Naia Renew and will have announcements regarding brand partnerships soon.
Other plastic-related products made by Eastman include Tritan-brand copolyester. Eastman employs 14,500 worldwide and posted sales of $9.3 billion in 2019.