Significant reduction in fibre fragment shedding

Milliken brand Polartec is launching the Shed Less Fleece process, designed to reduce home laundry fibre fragment shedding by an average of 85% as a result of a special combination of yarn construction, knitting and finishing.

The Shed Less process works by engineering the lofted fibres that give a fleece its soft hand the ability to resist breaking and rubbing off during home laundering, while maintaining all of the attributes that continue to make Polartec fleece a staple of midlayer collections. It remains lightweight, breathable and warm, with unmatched softness and hand feel.

The first fabric to be produced via this new process is the brand’s iPolartec 200 Series Fleece, the modern version of the original PolarFleece launched in 1981 and in 1993 the first to be knitted from yarns made from recycled plastic bottles.

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

The brand used the AATCC (American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists) TM212-2021 test method for fibre fragment release during home laundering. This test was conducted with large sample sizes to account for variability.

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

TextileMission 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 included the Association of the German Sporting Goods Industry, Hochschule Niederrhein, TU Dresden,Vaude Sport, WWF Germany, adidas, Miele and Polartec.

Polartec has also eco-engineered new processes at its plants to reduce the spread of fibre fragments, including the installation of customised vacuum and filtering systems for all surface finishing machinery, and upcycling all captured fabric waste for reuse in other products.

“While performance fabrics contribute a small percentage of the fibre fragments shed by the global textile industry, Polartec has been researching root causes and mitigation strategies for many years,” said Dr Kesh. “Shed Less Fleece is a natural progression of our goal of reducing fibre fragment shedding to near zero in all of our performance fabrics.”

Polartec Shed Less Fleece will be initially launched in the United States and available to customers beginning March 1, 2023. The brand plans to apply the Shed Less process to many other fabric platforms and manufacturing facilities around the world.


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