Polartec®, a Milliken & Company brand, announces Polartec® Shed Less Fleece, a new step in the industry-leading efforts to reduce textile fibre fragment shedding. The Shed Less procedure reduces home laundry fibre fragment shedding by an average of 85 %. It involves yarn construction, knitting, chemistry, and manufacturing. The brand’s legendary Polartec® 200 Series Fleece, the updated version of the original PolarFleece® introduced in 1981, and the first performance fleece woven from recycled plastic bottle yarn in 1993, are the first fabrics to acquire this new technology.
The lofted fibres that give fleece its velvety hand are engineered to resist breaking and rubbing off during home laundering, which is one reason for the spread of fibre fragments. This is how the Shed Less procedure works (commonly referred to as microfibres). With all the qualities that continue to make Polartec fleece a mainstay of midlayer collections—lightweight, breathable, and warm, with unsurpassed softness and hand feel—Polartec® Shed Less Fleece achieves this astonishing result.
Ramesh Kesh, PhD, Senior Vice President Milliken & Company, said that Polartec has a long history of EcoEngineering its products to lessen their environmental impact. The most recent step in these efforts and the outcome of many years of research and development is Shed Less.
The company employed the TM212-2021 test technique developed by the AATCC (American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists) to measure the release of fibre fragments during home laundry. Large sample sizes were used for this test in order to account for variation. According to the research, Shed Less Fleece significantly reduced fibre fragment shedding when compared to the standard fabric by an average of 85 %.
Aimee LaValley, Polartec Textile Development, Dye and Chemistry Manager, said that there wasn’t a lot of research on the subject, so in 2016, they started looking at how they can test for fibre loss. This prompted the development of innovative technologies like Polartec Power AirTM and manufacturing techniques, as well as our involvement in the TextileMission workgroup to conduct an interdisciplinary investigation of the problem.
The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research provided funding for the three-year collaborative project TextileMission, which brought together academics and businesses to lessen the impact of textile microplastics. The Association of the German Sporting Goods Industry, Hochschule Niederrhein – University of Applied Science, TU Dresden – Institute of Water Chemistry, Vaude Sport, WWF Germany, Adidas AG, Henkel AG, Miele & CIE, and Polartec, LLC are some of the founding partners.
Polartec, which is recognised for being a pioneer in the use of recycled materials in performance knits, has EcoEngineered new processes at its facilities to stop the spread of fibre fragments. These processes include installing specialized vacuum and filtering systems for all surface finishing equipment and upcycling all fabric waste collected for use in other products. These initiatives also apply to new product developments like the Polartec Power Air from 2018, which is made with lofted fibres to avoid breakage and maintain heat retention.
Dr. Kesh added that “Polartec has been researching underlying causes and mitigation measures for many years, even though performance fabrics only make up a small portion of the fibre fragments lost by the worldwide textile industry. Shed Less Fleece is a logical next step in their quest to get all of their performance fabrics’ fibre fragment shedding down to almost nothing.
Customers will be able to purchase Polartec® Shed Less Fleece starting on March 1, 2023, in the United States, where it will first be introduced. The company intends to implement the Shed Less method at numerous more global manufacturing locations and platforms for leading fabrics.