Primaloft, Inc., is an advanced material technology company based in Latham, New York, with offices in Xiamen, China. The company is a worldwide specialist in research and innovative development of high-performance material solutions, specializing in insulation and fabrics.
Primaloft insulation was originally developed for the U.S. army as a water-resistant, synthetic alternative to down. Since 1983, it has beeb developing various technologies aimed at the textile industry, with more than 950 global brands using Primaloft products in outdoor, fashion, home furnishings, work wear, hunting and military applications. Today it is offering products aiming to balance innovation, performance and sustainability at the same time, as the company is active in sustainable textile production through partnerships with the Bluesign System, the International Oeko-Tex Association, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index and the Global Recycled Standard.
Mike Joyce, president and CEO, Primaloft, explained The SPIN OFF, what the brand is committed to in order to lower its impact.
Sustainability is a key element in every new product development for us, but it can’t be at the expense of the performance. In recent years, we introduced several breakthrough innovations that I think have the potential to change the textile industry.
The use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) content, instead of virgin polyester, in our products has become a standard, but is still an important part of our mission to reduce our impact. Since 2015, we’ve transformed more than 692 million water bottles into high performance fibers. Over 90% of the fibers we use today in our products contain recycled fibers. However, recycling is not the final answer. It’s just the start.
What do you mean exactly?
To combat the issue of microplastics, we developed Primaloft Bio. It is the first-ever technology that uses 100% recycled content and enables synthetic insulation and fabric fibers to return to materials found in nature.
Primaloft Bio represents a holistic solution for every step of a product’s journey. The use of recycled material also means a drastic reduction in the amount of carbon emitted during the production of the fibers.
The high-performance fibers are built to last, and only break down when exposed to specific environments like marine, wastewater, and landfill. This helps to reduce the long-term impact of microplastics in those environments, both at a garment’s eventual end of life, and by combating microplastic shedding throughout its usable life.
Our work does not stop at the products themselves. We are also reinventing how we make products. The second breakthrough technology is called PrimaLoft P.U.R.E., whose last part of the name stays for "Produced Using Reduced Emissions".
This fiber aims at disrupting the traditional manufacturing process of insulation. With it, our technical engineers have transformed the manufacturing of synthetic insulation to drastically reduce the carbon emissions produced during the process by up to 70%, compared to traditional manufacturing techniques. This holistic approach matches materials, engineered recipes, equipment, and energy production, all working together to achieve a significant drop in CO2 while maintaining the same performance our customers expect from PrimaLoft.
How much does sustainable Primaloft products count as part of the company’s total sales? Today, 86% of PrimaLoft’s total revenue comes from products with more than 50% PCR and over 90% of all fibers used in our products are derived from recycled fibers.
Can you name any of the clients that use your products?
For Primaloft P.U.R.E. and PrimaLoft Bio, we’ve seen very positive reactions from our partners. The list of brands from outdoor and sports, as well as fashion and home, using these innovations in their collections is growing. PrimaLoft P.U.R.E. is available in garments of nearly 20 brands including Gap, Houdini, Patagonia and Stone Island. Primaloft Bio is used by approximately 30 brands including Ecco, Maloja, and O'Neill.
We strongly reject the concept that performance will diminish if you produce sustainable materials. In fact, our belief is that you can achieve both performance and sustainability together, through innovation. We see a tremendous need from the industry for sustainable innovations that perform on the highest level, so we expect a natural pull effect from the brand side. Our plan is to continue our journey. You will see more sustainable technology from Primaloft that will drive performance, use innovative sustainable materials, and will be produced using our P.U.R.E. technology. This approach will drive growth.
Does the Primaloft company aim to reach a decarbonization? Where does it stand, and what are its next aims?In recent years, we made important strides towards decarbonization through concerted efforts in all major aspects of the business – materials, manufacturing, and product development. The use of recycled materials instead of virgin polyester reduces the carbon footprint by 43%.
Primaloft P.U.R.E., in particular, is a very important innovation enabling a significant drop in CO2. When we launched it in 2019, we could decrease the emissions in the manufacturing process by nearly 50%. With the second version we released last year, the savings were increased to up to 70%. And our next goal is to achieve 95% carbon emission reduction.
Additionally, we recently started a strategic alliance with the company Origin Materials, which represents a significant milestone on the product development side. In the coming years, this partnership aims to develop the first carbon negative polyester fiber suitable for use in textiles by turning sustainable wood residue into cost-advantaged, carbon-negative materials that reduce the need for fossil resources.
Will you launch more new products with sustainable characteristics in the future?We will continue to expand our portfolio of recycled materials, carbon-reducing renewable manufacturing technologies, and microplastic-reduction solutions within the next years. Looking to the future, we will continue to innovate, working towards the goal of developing the industry’s highest-performing synthetic materials without the need for fossil fuels. The collaboration with Origin Material is a very promising start into this direction.
When our engineers develop new technologies, the target is to raise the bar for thermal performance, while also looking at the entire life of a product for ways to reduce impact at every step – from the material level, to production and manufacturing, to business practices. The innovations mentioned above are good examples for this approach.
Primaloft is deeply focused on reducing impact through the continued use of recycled materials and aggressive carbon reduction on the product and manufacturing side. We create durable products that are built to last, and which can be reused, repaired, and passed on to other users.
Using highly robust materials extends the usable life of garments and lessens their potential impact on the environment. We are combating microplastic and waste issues with our biodegradable solutions, and we are designing for circularity as most of our products can be rejuvenated into new high-performance material by chemical recycling. We see these approaches as a continuous circle. To effectively address decarbonization, you need to innovate on each step of the way.
You have just spoken about chemical recycling, but isn't it in contradiction with becoming carbon negative?
Chemical recycling is not in contradiction, instead it is complimentary as it permits the continuous recycling of materials over and over again. This drastically reduces the need to produce new plastic materials.
Mechanical recycling, which is what happens today, degrades the material each time it is recycled until the point where it become non-functional. Chemical recycling “regenerates” the material repeatedly with the same performance features.