UPM and VAUDE showcase the future of fabrics at ISPO Munich 2023 with first ever fleece jacket made from wood-based polyester

21.11.23 - The world’s first ever fleece jacket made with wood-based polyester will be unveiled next week by UPM Biochemicals and VAUDE at ISPO Munich 2023, the world’s largest sports trade show, where global sports business community comes together to share perspectives and shape the future
of the industry. UPM and VAUDE collaborated closely to produce outerwear made with bio-based chemicals to prove that the shift towards renewable materials in textiles is possible already today. 

“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” says Michael Duetsch, Vice President Biochemicals at UPM.

“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 defossilize their products.

Approximately 60% of all materials currently used by the fashion industry[1] are made from fossil-based polymers. While there is a need for synthetic polymers especially for key performance materials it is hoped that this prototype will inspire and motivate brands to exit fossil-based materials for more sustainable bio-based solutions, accelerating the sustainable transformation of the textile industry.

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 will be entirely replaced with a new bio-monoethylene glycol (BioMEG). UPM BioPura™ 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.

“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," adds René Bethmann, Senior Innovation Manager at VAUDE.

“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%.”

UPM is investing EUR 1,180 million to build the world’s first industrial scale biorefinery in Leuna, Germany. In Leuna, UPM will convert sustainably sourced, certified hardwood into next generation biochemicals that will enable the vital shift away from fossil-based to renewable materials across a wide range of industries. The Leuna biorefinery is part of a broader growth area, UPM Biorefining, focused on scaling refineries producing a variety of renewable fuels and chemicals made from sustainable biomass.

[1] ‘Textiles and the environment in a circular economy’, European Environment Agency - November 2019.

UPM and VAUDE think beyond recycling by launching a prototype of first ever fleece jacket made from wood-based polyester. (Picture: VAUDE)