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Success Story: Sustainability in the textile industry

Zurich start-up Neumühle presents the world's first fashion product with ecoGreen snaps made of sugar cane

Today, the textile industry, primarily driven by the fast fashion trend, releases up to 1.2 trillion tons of CO2 annually, accounting for ten percent of total global emissions - more than international air and shipping traffic combined.

The majority of today's textile industry is still based on a linear approach: Clothing is made from fossil resources, often only worn infrequently and then ending up as waste or inferior derivative products. According to the European Parliamentary Scientific Service (EPRS), less than one percent of recycled textiles is currently recycled back into clothing in the form of textile-to-textiles. Consequently, a rethink towards more sustainable production and renewable raw material alternatives is essential to minimize the environmental impact of the industry and to save resources.

Design for circularity

With the development of its CIRCLE JACKET VON ADA, the Zurich start-up Neumühle has set a milestone on the way to a future-proof and sustainable production of textiles. The design of the new, vegan down jacket, whose components are exclusively obtained from mono-materials, follows a holistic circular approach:

It allows the separation into its original materials and thus guarantees their reuse or their processing into materials of equal quality. The CIRCLE JACKET is the world's first fashion product that uses ecoGreen snap fasteners made of biological PE extracted from sugar cane. Thereby, Neumühle avoids the use of fossil resources, thus revolutionizing the practice for this textile component.

With its ecoGreen product line, Prym Fashion offers a L.I.F.E. certified series of plastic snap fasteners, which are made from plant-based, renewable resources such as sugar cane and allow for industrial composting. Therefore, ecoGreen snaps are an eco-friendly alternative to close the sustainability loop of clothing and textiles in the active- and sportswear as well as fashion sector. The recyclable snaps are washable at up to 40°C and available in many different colors.

With Neumühle, the company has now gained a customer that uses the product for a unique circular and sustainable solution. We spoke with Andreas Fehr, co-founder of Neumühle, about the background and design approaches of the start-up as well as the future of the fashion industry:

What principles do you represent with your designs and the new jacket in particular?

Andreas Fehr: The textile industry is one of the biggest climate sinners. The rhythm of fast fashion has reached an almost dizzying speed. We need to move away from mass consumption and need products that do without fossil resources in primary production, use as few greenhouse gases as possible in manufacturing and are developed for circularity. With the CIRCLE JACKET, we have developed a circular fashion product and thus set a milestone towards future-proof textile production. With this product we want to achieve a paradigm shift towards durable and recyclable products.

What is behind the design concept of the new jacket?

Andreas Fehr: Sustainability begins in the design process. A product that moves in the same cycle is a sustainable product. But most textiles cannot achieve this, or only at great expense. It is therefore the task of future designers to develop "circular-friendly" products making their recycling easier, or at least enabling recycling in the first place, while maintaining the material quality. And this is exactly where we have started with our CIRCLE JACKET. All components are obtained from mono-materials. The design was created in such a way that they can be separated back into their original materials. This enables us to guarantee pure material flows that can be reused at the end of their life cycle or can be processed into materials of equal quality. This closes the circle of our CIRCLE JACKET VON ADA. With our take-back program we also guarantee the return of all materials, so that together with our recycling partners we can ensure the reuse of the materials.

Why did you choose Prym Fashion as your partner?

Andreas Fehr: We were looking for snap fasteners that do not use fossil resources and so we came across the ecoGreen product line from Prym Fashion. We set ourselves strict criteria for the fastening systems: They should be made of mono-materials, be 100% recyclable and be produced in a radius of maximum 400 km. The fact that the ecoGreen snaps are exclusively made from renewable resources and even absorb C02 during production convinced us in the end. Furthermore, the general quality awareness and the continuous striving for new, sustainable and innovative solutions of Prym Fashion and Neumühle were a natural fit and a good basis for a successful partnership.

What qualifies ecoGreen as fastening system for you?

Andreas Fehr: Above all the plant-based origin and the regional production. We equipped our CIRCLE JACKET with black ecoGreen snaps, which totally met our high standards - both in terms of design and functionality. The closing force of the snaps is strong and durable, their feel is warm with a fine texture and the design is homogeneously minimalistic.

Where do you personally see the future of the fashion industry?

Andreas Fehr: At some point in the last 20 years an awareness has been established that it is okay to pay 5 EUR for a T-shirt. As a sustainable start-up we stand up to this mass consumption and want to inspire. The textile industry has already taken the right direction, but there are still more miles to go. According to our research, chemical recycling will become a large-scale solution within the next 2-3 years which would be an important milestone towards circularity. Now it is up to future designers, manufacturers and consumers to help recyclers to further simplify the process.

Neumühle and Prym Fashion - together for more sustainability.

More about Neumühle and the CIRCLE JACKET can be found here.