When it comes to the introduction of innovative technologies, collaboration is at the forefront of new horizons. Established in 2011, Carbios is a green chemistry company that focuses on biological processes meant to disrupt malpractices in plastic and textile production. Its unique approach of combining enzymes and plastics breaks down any type of PET (the dominant polymer in bottles, trays, textiles made of polyester). According to Carbios market data, PET polyester is the most important fiber for the textile industry producing more than 52 metric tons. With Carbios biorecycling process, they can extract the polyesters present in all textile waste recovering it to reproduce virgin fibers.
This first of its kind technology has led the company to sign a two-year deal with On, Patagonia, PUMA and Salomon, focusing on developing solutions that will fundamentally change the recyclability and circularity of their products. However, the efforts don’t stop there. The cross collaborative endeavor will also gather data on circularity models, research on products’ recyclability, and develop solutions for take-back worn polyester objects.
For Carbios and the partnered brands it’s not only a matter of ambition, but a race against time. Today, most companies meet their sustainable milestones only through partial efforts like bottle-to-fiber recycling.The direction of the industry demonstrates future regulations will require further circularity in packaging and textile, encouraging these brands to revamp their objectives. As Emmanuel Ladent, Chief Executive Officer of Carbios, said, “Our common goal is to contribute to reducing the environmental impact of the textile industry by offering an industrial solution to recycle polyester fibers and help our partners to meet their sustainable development goals.”
PET plastics and fibers make it into the majority of our everyday goods – sourced from fossil resources. Following a wasteful linear model, these materials are commonly used and discarded following one use. Carbios biorecycling technology not only guarantees a more responsible approach, but creates a much needed circular economy from these used plastics and fibers. As Olivier Mouzin, Footwear Sustainability Manager at Salomon, poignantly shared, “Our goal in joining the consortium is to bring awareness to the end-of-life of textiles, with the ambition of establishing true circularity within the textile industry. The companies in the consortium aim to do this by discovering ways to recycle fibers from one product into another.”
Carbios Enzymatic Recycling technique is the first organic approach to emerge allowing PET plastics and textiles to be recycled infinitely. So how does it work exactly? In simple words, the company uses an enzyme capable of depolymerizing (or breaking down) the PET in a given plastic. Then, the monomer that emerges from the breakdown process is purified in order to be re-polymerized into another PET of an equal quality. Whether clear, opaque, or of complex layers the materials are capable of 100% recyclability in this impressive cycle.
Pushing the boundaries of circularity, we are excited to see the results of this multi-brand partnership in the future.