Dyneema® provides innovative and sustainable solutions for fabrics and protective knitwear

A LinkedIn article previously published by Rajesh Unnikrishnan, Application Development & Technical Services Manager, Consumer & Professional Protection.

There is growing sentiment from governmental agencies, investors and consumers alike pushing the textile industry to move towards more sustainable solutions. This is due, in part, to the significant environmental impact of global manufacturing, shipping and consumption of textile products. The move towards a more circular economy refutes the traditional “take, make, waste” approach and emphasizes reduction, prevention and reuse – requiring cross-value chain efforts to be implemented by both product and material manufacturers.

As a market leader in ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMwPE) fiber, DSM is dedicated to securing the future availability of natural resources and addressing the recycling and repurposing of end-of-use products made with Dyneema®. This is in line with our commitment – we protect people and the environment they live inand is part of corporate responsibility to deliver products that fit our sustainability and circularity ambitions.

In line with that same commitment, DSM introduced the world’s first-ever bio-based HMPE fiber in 2020. Sourced from renewable, bio-based feedstock using the mass balance approach, bio-based Dyneema® fiber reduces our reliance on fossil fuel-based resources without compromising on performance, protection, comfort or durability. Integrated into high performance fabrics and protective knitwear, bio-based Dyneema® fiber provides a sustainable alternative for consumer products in the Outdoor and Sports & Lifestyle markets, as well as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used in Manufacturing.

When a significant portion of the material composition in a fabric or protective knitwear is comprised of bio-based Dyneema® fiber, it creates unique differentiators in terms of the overall carbon footprint reduction of the product. For example, based on Life Cycle Assessment calculations (an internationally accepted methodology for comparing different solutions for the same functional unit to assess the environmental impact across a product’s life cycle), cut-resistant gloves (cut level 4 performance) made with bio-based Dyneema® fiber have only 2,800kg of CO2 emissions per 10,000 pairs – which is 6.5 times lower than generic HMPE fiber and 6 times lower than aramid fiber, respectively.*

*Source: DSM Internal Lifecycle Assessment. The carbon footprint has been calculated using the IPCC 2013 GWP 100a method. The full environmental footprint has been calculated using 2 impact assessment methods; ReCiPe 2016 Endpoint (H) and ILCD Midpoint V1.10. DSM applies ISO 14040 / 14044 standards to all internal Life Cycle Assessments. In addition, the WBCSD Chemical Sector Life Cycle Metrics Guidance (2014) has been followed.

As another example, industrial fabrics with a high content of bio-based Dyneema® fiber (> 70%), also have a lower carbon footprint when compared to fabrics made with generic PE fiber or other synthetic materials such as polyamide or polyester – both of which are derived from fossil-based feedstocks.

The product performance and durability of bio-based Dyneema® fiber is the same as conventional Dyneema® for the intended application. This makes the use of bio-based Dyneema® fiber a drop-in solution for existing applications where Dyneema® is already used. In fact, many industry leaders in the Outdoor market, such as Hyperlite and ZPacks, have fully transitioned their product portfolio to bio-based Dyneema® fiber – asserting that you don’t have to sacrifice performance for sustainability.

To further improve the impact of products made with Dyneema® across the value chain, DSM also launched a cross-industry coalition, known as the CirculariTeam®, to address the recycling and repurposing of end-of-use products made with Dyneema®. The coalition was divided into three industry segments – one being Textiles and Clothing – with representatives from DSM, our manufacturing partners and licensees leading each respective focus area.

Over the initial five-year timeline, industry leaders – together with DSM – will evaluate seven key themes:

  • Reverse logistics
  • Recycle and reuse
  • Efficiency in production processes
  • Separation of waste into material components
  • Design for circularity
  • Regulation
  • Information sharing

Beyond material innovation with bio-based Dyneema® fiber and customer collaboration with the CirculariTeam®, DSM also committed to responsible manufacturing targets to help reduce our carbon footprint. In 2021, we have achieved the use of 100% renewable electricity at our fiber manufacturing facilities which is well ahead of our original ambition (75% by 2030).

As the textile industry continues to demand more sustainable solutions, we are taking an active approach to reduce carbon emissions and to develop end-of-life solutions.

Are you interested in learning more about DSM’s sustainable solutions for fabric and protective knitwear? If so, please contact me directly. 

Rajesh Unnikrishnan
Application Development & Technical Services Manager
DSM
rajesh.unnikrishnan@dsm.com

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