We use recycled nylon made from postindustrial waste fiber, leftover material from weaving mills and postconsumer fishing nets.
When we need a super lightweight fabric that can perform, we look to nylon, one of the strongest plastics we use to build our products. But nylon is a petroleum-based material, and producing it has a high cost in energy and greenhouse gases. Incorporating as much recycled nylon as we can decreases our dependence on virgin petroleum as a raw material source, helps divert discarded material and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing. Using recycled nylon also promotes new recycling streams for nylon products that are no longer functional.
We’re making progress
Where We Are
To meet our goal of moving completely from using virgin content to recycled content, we need recycled nylon to continue making some of our favorite technical jackets and garments—and to maintain our performance standards.
To ensure that, we’ve found a nylon yarn made from a 50/50 blend of postconsumer and pre-consumer nylon. The postconsumer materials come from products like plastic bottles, fishing nets, worn-out clothes or discarded carpeting that have been bought, used in the world and then trashed; these products are destined for the landfill. Pre-consumer waste material, which comes from industrial processes, includes scraps of material in a factory that would have otherwise been downcycled, downgraded or sent to a landfill. Most of the nylon we use now comes from a mechanically recycled pre-consumer source. These materials would have gone into lesser-quality goods if we hadn’t used them in our products.
Most mechanically recycled materials are melted at high temperatures; this process destroys contaminants and transforms the material into a reusable form. However, nylon melts at a much lower temperature, leaving contaminants behind. As a result, it must be thoroughly cleaned before being recycled. Good sources of clean postconsumer nylon are difficult to find, but we are working closely with recycling partners to ensure the recycled nylon we use is pure and still rooted in performance.
For the Fall 2022 season, 85% of the nylon fabric we used to make clothing and gear contains recycled nylon. Our use of recycled nylon fabrics this season reduced CO₂ emissions by more than 5.9 million pounds compared to virgin nylon.
We’re using more postconsumer recycled nylon in our gear and we’re also exploring other options to replace nylon entirely, such as materials made from plant-based alternatives, that will help curb the CO₂ emissions associated with material creation.