Polartec, a fabric brand owned by the American industrial manufacturer Milliken & Company, is launching Polartec Shed Less Fleece, a new fabric that aims to reduce textile fiber fragment shedding. 

Shed Less is a process that combines yarn construction, knitting, chemistry, and manufacturing to reduce home laundry fiber fragment shedding by an average of 85%. 

The first fabric that will use this new technology is the brand’s Polartec 200 Series Fleece, the modern version of the original Polar Fleece launched in 1981, and in 1993, the first performance fleece knit from yarn made from recycled plastic bottles.


The Shed Less process works by engineering the lofted fibers that give fleece its soft hand the ability to resist breaking and rubbing off during home laundering, cited as one of the main contributing factor to the spread of fibers fragments. 

The new technology achieves this important result while guaranteeing characteristics like lightness, breathability and warmth, with softness characteristics.


“Polartec has a long tradition of eco-engineering its products to reduce their environmental footprint,” said Ramesh Kesh, PhD, senior vice president, Milliken & Company. “Shed Less is the latest progression of these efforts and the result of many years of research and development,” added the manager. 


The brand used the AATCC (American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists) TM212-2021 test method for fiber fragment release during home laundering. This test was conducted with large sample sizes to account for variability. The testing concluded that Shed Less Fleece reduced fiber fragment shedding by an average of 85% compared to the baseline fabric.  


“In 2016 we began looking into how we might test for fiber loss because there wasn’t a lot of research on the issue.” said Aimee La Valley, textile development, dye and chemistry manager, Polartec. “This led to new products like Polartec Power Air, new manufacturing processes, as well as our participation in the Textile Mission workgroup to study the issue on an interdisciplinary basis.” 

Textile Mission was a three-year collaborative initiative of academia and industry to reduce the impact of textile microplastics, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Founding partners include The Association of the German Sporting Goods Industry, Hochschule Niederrhein - University of Applied Science; TU Dresden - Institute of Water Chemistry; Vaude Sport; WWF Germany; Adidas AG; Henkel AG; Miele & CIE; and Polartec, LLC. 

Polartec, which is also known for pioneering the use of recycled materials in performance knits, has eco-engineered new processes at its plants to reduce the spread of fiber fragments, including the installation of customized vacuum and filtering systems for all surface finishing machinery, and upcycling all captured fabric waste for reuse in other products. These efforts also extend to other product innovations, such as 2018’s Polartec Power Air, constructed to contain lofted fibers in order to prevent breakage and maintain heat retention.

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