UPM Biochemicals and outdoor apparel supplier Vaude will today unveil what they say is the world’s first-ever fleece jacket made with wood-based polyester at sports trade show ISPO Munich 2023.

According to UPM and Vaude, around 60% of all materials currently used by the fashion industry are made from fossil-based polymers, and the resin used to make polyester contains 30% monoethylene glycol (MEG), which is traditionally derived from petroleum.

In UPM and Vaude’s process this ingredient is replaced with a new bio-monoethylene glycol (BioMEG), UPM BioPura, which the companies say “is a drop-in solution that can be easily implemented into existing polyester manufacturing processes as it is identical to currently used MEG on a molecular basis and can therefore go into corresponding recycling streams”.

Michael Duetsch, vice president biochemicals at UPM, commented: “We recognise the acute challenge faced by the fashion and footwear industries to find more sustainable solutions for the textiles and materials used in their products. Today’s launch of the first-ever bio-based fleece jacket is a milestone in responding to that challenge, enabling fashion industry leaders to take action now and move beyond fossil-based materials.

“Vaude is a leader in advancing sustainable products – addressing all aspects of sustainability from longevity through repairability and alternative use options to truly responsible materials. This collaboration confirms the strong appeal of our novel product portfolio to changemakers in the outdoor and sports industry but also beyond. By building a first-of-its-kind biorefining business to offer a new generation of bio-based renewable materials, we can help global brands to reduce their CO2 footprint and defossilise their products.”

René Bethmann, senior innovation manager at Vaude, added: “We have partnered with UPM as partnerships across the whole value chain are a prerequisite for enhancing sustainable innovations. This initial milestone marks the first step in our journey to create a polyester derived from non-fossil ingredients. 

“Producing outerwear made with bio-based chemicals is part of our shift towards using renewable materials in the textile and apparel value chain – we want 90% of all our products to be bio-based or have recycled content of more than 50%.”