Sydney-based envirotech Samsara Eco has today landed a major partnership with Canadian apparel giant lululemon to create the world’s first infinitely recycled nylon and polyester from apparel waste.
The news comes six months after Samsara Eco, which uses plastic-eating enzymes to infinitely recycle waste, secured $54 million in a Series A backed by Main Sequence, Woolworths Group’s W23 and Breakthrough Victoria, amongst others.
Under the partnership, Samsara will work with lululemon to create new recycled nylon 6,6 – one of fashion industries’ most commonly used materials - and polyester from apparel waste.
Developed alongside the Australian National University (ANU), Samsara’s technology works by using enzymes to break down plastic (polymer) into its original building blocks – monomers – which can then be used to infinitely recreate brand new plastic.
“We’re proud that this partnership is disrupting the apparel industry. The ability to infinitely recycle textiles, including nylon, is an essential solution to tackle the enormous challenge of textile waste in the apparel industry,” Samsara Eco founder and CEO Paul Riley said.
“Together with lululemon, Samara Eco is creating enzymatically recycled nylon and accelerating textile-to-textile recycling toward truly circular apparel.
“This is a massive milestone as Samsara Eco achieves an environmentally friendly ability to recycle blended textiles including nylon and polyester.”
Samsara’s latest raise will be used to bolster its engineering team, develop its library of enzymes and fund its new commercial facility in Melbourne, which will ramp up to full-scale production so it can eventually process 20,000 tonnes of plastic from 2024.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, about 60 per cent of material made into clothing is plastic, which includes polyester, acrylic and nylon textiles.
Australians are responsible for sending approximately 800,000 tonnes of textile waste to landfill each year, making us the second-highest consumer of fabric per person in the world, trailing only the US.
“Nylon remains our biggest opportunity to achieve our 2030 sustainable product goals,” lululemon raw materials innovation vice president Yogendra Dandapure said.
The partnership, which will last for several years, marks lululemon’s first-ever minority investment in a recycling company,
“This partnership demonstrates what’s possible through collective innovation to solve unmet needs,” Dandapure said.
“Through Samsara Eco’s patented enzymatic process, we’re advancing transforming apparel waste into high quality nylon and polyester, which will help us live into our end-to-end vision of circularity.”
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