Sympatex is one of the worldwide leading producers of sustainable functional textiles. To reach its next ambitious goal – becoming 100 percent circular by 2030 – the company is pushing for collaboration within the textile industry.
In more than thirty years, the Sympatex membrane has protected outdoor enthusiasts like a second skin. 100 percent windproof and waterproof, at the same time elastic and breathable, it has been the perfect material for physically demanding activities in harsh conditions.
The membrane’s ability to “breathe” dynamically is outstanding: The more you move and sweat, the more effectively it absorbs water vapor and removes it through the clothing to the exterior. Another strength is that it can easily be formed or tailored for specific purposes and laminated on a wide range of other materials like woven fabrics, knitwear, fleece or leather to evolve them into high-performance outdoor textiles.
With all the highly functional qualities in place, it’s the sustainability performance that sets the membrane apart from the rest: PTFE-free and PFC-free, bluesign and “Öko-TexStandard 100” certified, Sympatex advanced to become one of the leading sustainable textile technologies on the market. A true pioneer, Sympatex became climate-neutral already in 2017, supplies 25 percent of the membrane’s raw materials from bio-based sources and now has set a new trend-setting goal for the near future: To become 100 percent circular by 2030.
Close the ecological loop
“As a mono material consisting of pure polyester, Sympatex is fully recyclable. At the same time, technologies to gain new synthetic
yarn from recycled polyester are already on a very advanced industrial level,” explains Kim Scholze, Sustainable Community Manager for the Munich-based company.
“We have the best chances to close the ecological loop under this decade if we succeed in building and scaling up an efficient recycling system for polyester inside the textile industry.”
Sympatex’ ambition is to source half of the raw material from this circular textile supply chain in five years, to then step up to 100 percent by 2030. This strategy depends on many companies – especially the big players – choosing the same circular path and being willing to collaborate.
“We need common solutions for infrastructure, collecting points and recyclers, but also a clear commitment on pure polyester as the predominant synthetic raw material for functional textiles,” says Kim Scholze. Her challenging job is to gather what Sympatex CEO Dr. Rüdiger Fox calls the “coalition of the brave and willing” – a network of textile companies that work together on a sustainable future.
“No one can take this step alone,” states Kim, who also points out that circular concepts may soon even become a legal issue. By 2025, the EU is expected to make consistent sustainability a mandatory program for the whole textile industry.
“At that point, we will be ready to provide our partner companies with adequate solutions.”
The first circular generation
In February 2021, Sympatex launched a new brand claim that boldly brings the company’s mission to the fore: “We are the first generation,” addresses both the industry and the end consumer and calls for voluntary action for a consistently more sustainable textile business. The inclusive statement implies that our generation can be the first in which circularity becomes “the new normal.” That would leave the fossil-dependent industrial era behind and create an economy without ecological side-effects or costs for futer generations.
“We want each Sympatex membrane to one day return into the circle to be reborn as a new second skin for adventures in the great outdoors,” says Kim Scholze.
“The more that join our movement today, the sooner this vision will come true.”