Outdoor and sustainability: Although the outdoor
business processes a comparatively small amount of fabrics and textiles
compared to the fashion industry, it has established as a pioneer and innovator
when it comes to sustainability. In addition, it is increasingly meeting
customer expectations, which are particularly demanding on this issue. OutDoor
show in Friedrichshafen from 17 to 20 June, 2018 clearly demonstrates that the
industry is continuing to rise to the challenge and manufacturing using clean,
fair and high-quality techniques to an ever-greater extent. The result:
backpacks made from recycled fishing nets, T-Shirts made from ocean waste and
recycled laminates made from PET bottles which are now a serious functional
alternative to less eco-friendly membranes.
Although the outdoor industry might only be
responsible for five per cent of international down production and a tiny
percentage of the world’s wool production, it is outdoor firms who initiated
the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) and also work according to the strict
regulations of the ‘Down Codex’, to meet animal welfare guidelines and high
quality standards. Wool is also regulated by the Responsible Wool Standard
(RWS) or ‘Zque’ certified. At present, Europe's main outdoor companies are
members of the Fair Wear Foundation and have their production audited according
to the most rigorous international social standards. When it comes to PCFs,
every greater numbers of manufacturers are changing their production. Jack
Wolfskin announces at this year’s OutDoor that its complete clothing collection
will be PFC-free by 2019. Further brands, such as Maiersports and Vaude are
already over 90 per cent PFC-free.
At the 25th jubilee edition of the OutDoor show in
Friedrichshafen, plastic microfibres is a widely-discussed topic. Last year,
the Guppyfriend, a special washbag with a filter function that captures
microplastic particles during the washing process received an OutDoor Gold
Award. Certain firms offer it in their collection, to help promote its use.
However, it remains clear that: “We need creative ideas and to drive research
forward to develop genuine long-term solutions that are not just based on
filtration,” argues Melanie Kuntnawitz, Sustainability Manager Jack Wolfskin.
Vaude proves that this is possible with Biopile: a fabric pile fleece – a
cellulose fibre that is 100% biodegradable. At OutDoor 2018, Röjk are launching
a collection made exclusively from natural fibres or biologically degradable
polyactides. Waldkauz and Roughstuff are showcasing jackets made of Loden and
wool fleece that involve no microplastics. Picture is presenting fully
compostable sweat jackets.
Recycling and the circular economy is becoming more
and more important in the industry. Meanwhile, recycled PET, also known as
re-PET, is a high-quality material that is also a functional alternative to
less eco-friendly membranes. Fjällräven’s Eco Shell, Marmot’s EvoDry or Jack
Wolfskin’s Ecosphere are made of 100 per cent recycled polyester or polyamide.
Brettschneider is even launching the first mosquito net made of recycled
polyester yarns. Basque firm, Ternua issues each of its products with a print
showing how many PET bottles have been used to make it.
Stretch fabrics will be completely recycled in the
future too. Taiwanese manufacturer Sheico is starting a “new green era” with
the first ever recycled Spandex yarn, while Primaloft is offering a synthetic
insulation made from 100 per cent PCR (Post-consumer recycled polyester)
without making any sacrifices on performance and softness. Vaude is making
backpacks and bags from recycled fishing nets, this is a significant step
forward given that ten years ago nylon 6,6 was considered impossible to
recycle. Adidas is now introducing a range of products from functional
T-shirts, to footwear midsoles, to outer layer fabrics from ocean waste and
supporting the ‘Parley for the Oceans’ initiative, which puts forward solutions
to end marine plastic pollution by cleaning up shorelines, collecting plastic
waste and using closed loop recycling systems. And Edelrid produces
climbing ropes from recycled polyamide.
Sustainability is not something prescribed by law, but the majority of outdoor firms are now committed to sustainability and transparent social standards. Where there is a will, there is a way. Outdoor companies are making this crystal clear.