On the occasion of the LifeWear Day consumer exhibition taking place this year in London, Japanese global apparel retailer UNIQLO and Toray Industries today announce the joint development of down clothing employing reclaimed down and DRY-EX apparel incorporating fabric from polyester fibres made with recycled PET bottles. This new initiative, part of a longstanding strategic partnership between the two companies, will contribute to sustainability by giving consumers access to merchandise that optimises the use of valuable resources.
Commenting on today's announcement, Tadashi Yanai, UNIQLO Founder and Chairman, President & CEO of Fast Retailing, said, "UNIQLO is committed to improving the sustainability of society. To this end, we will soon begin our new initiative with Toray that promotes the use of recycled materials. Through such an important partnership, we can continue to offer high-performance, high-quality, and sustainable clothing to all customers around the world."
Akihiro Nikkaku, President of Toray Industries, Inc., said, "At Toray we challenge ourselves to find solutions to global social issues with our belief that "materials can change our lives". By promoting businesses that contribute to sustainability together with our strategic partner UNIQLO, we aim to create new value and realise a prosperous society through LifeWear."
New items made from recycled down
UNIQLO stores will collect used Ultra Light Down items from customers. A new Toray-developed system will extract material from Ultra Light Down pieces, to be cleansed for use in new down merchandise. Collections* will start later in September this year initially only in Japan, and some down products from the 2020 Fall/Winter season will employ this recycled material.
Conventionally, the stuffing in duvets and other objects incorporating down is manually removed. Such processes are arduous with Ultra Light Down items because of their thin shells and complex construction. By developing special extraction machinery, Toray has fully automated cutting, stirring and separating, and recovery, for 50-fold the process capacity of manual processes, thus greatly alleviating workloads.
New DRY-EX pieces incorporating polyester from recycled PET bottles
DRY-EX is a revolutionary material that quickly wicks away sweat and moisture. From 2020 Spring/Summer UNIQLO will begin to introduce DRY-EX items of clothing that incorporate high-value-added polyester fibres derived from reclaimed PET bottles. *Such collections will differ from donations made at UNIQLO stores of lightly used clothing that is distributed to needy people around the world.
This is a milestone because, while fibres made from reclaimed plastic bottles have been commercially available for some time, it has been hard to produce fibres featuring special cross-sections and fine fibres, owing to contaminants in PET bottles. Another challenge to address has been that plastic bottles yellow as they age.
Toray's contaminant filtering technology overcomes these issues, making it possible to manufacture fibres whose features are commensurate with those of fibres from plastic made directly from petrochemical feedstock, including those with special cross-sections. Another advance is Toray's Recycling Identification System, which enhances reliability by ensuring that fibres derived from plastic bottles are traceable.
UNIQLO and Toray will keep leveraging their strengths to foster sustainable social progress.