Amongst all the sustainable brands out there, here at Solgaard, we like to walk the walk as well as just talk the talk. With this in mind - just in case you missed it - let us re-introduce you to the wonder material that has been the major inspiration for this company: SHORE-TEX™. Let's take a deep dive into exactly what SHORE-TEX™ is, the intricacies of how it's made, and the positive environmental impact that can be achieved by exchanging traditional materials with sustainable alternatives.
Created by our very own Solgaard Founder and sustainable product entrepreneur, Adrian Solgaard, SHORE-TEX™ is an ingenious fabric that is engineered from recycled ocean plastics. Although plastic recycling is not a new idea, there has been little advancement in the field of recycled ocean plastics - with recycled alternatives rarely cutting it as a viable alternative to their freshly manufactured cousins. This is the case for many reasons: recycling plastic costs money, often more than producing virgin plastic for the same product line; plastics collected from our oceans and riverways are often heavily degraded, to an extent that recycling is no longer possible; and finally, there is a distinct lack of innovation, research and development, due to the industry standard being shiny new plasticized items!
However, all that is changing. And Solgaard is here to encourage those ripples of change. But back to the topic at hand: what EXACTLY is SHORE-TEX™? How is it constructed? How do we create a durable, sustainable, and high-performance product from a collection of crusty plastic bottles? The answer lies in innovation and collaboration. The plastic waste that is collected to create this special fabric is sourced from beaches and riverways in the Philippines, through a collaboration established to collect plastic waste on a commercial scale. This process of building a sustainable supply chain began in 2017 when Solgaard founder Adrian took the opportunity to travel to Asia, where he was shocked into action by the sheer scale of the plastic pollution epidemic he encountered.
With images of pristine sandy beaches and lush tropical islands in mind when dreaming of South-East Asia, the harsh reality of beaches swamped in piles of plastic waste are instead becoming the norm. As great patches of ocean plastics converge together with the currents, floating islands of waste are becoming ever more numerous. With an idea of how to tackle this problem, in any way possible, Solgaard’s creation ‘SHORE-TEX™’ was formed.
Back to the process: after the assorted mixture of plastics has been collected, they are separated into streams, with unusable items sent to another recycling facility, before all target plastics are carefully cleaned and processed into small flakes. The ideal type of plastic to create SHORE-TEX™ is PET, one of the most common forms, and one you will encounter the next time you take a drink out of any common carbonated drinks bottle. Once the plastic is processed to this stage, it is then heated into pellets, before being stretched out into a “yarn-like” fibre, ready to be woven together like traditional fabric. With all of the capabilities of traditional plasticised fabrics (and more!) this ingenious fabric can be found incorporated into the shell and lining fabric on all our backpacks and accessories and can be found as the lining fabric and closet system in our luggage.
Why are Materials Like SHORE-TEX™ Important?
In our consumerist society, where new products are constantly churned out to meet our growing needs, and demands for pristine plastic products continue to increase, the importance of recycled plastic products becomes much clearer. With our existing global problem of excess plastic pollution, why not try and find a better use for all the short-lived plastic items we discard on a daily basis? We are beginning to see the efforts that are being made by packaging companies around the world, as they try to offer recycled (or recyclable) alternatives - however, more research and innovation are needed before we can really tackle the scale of the issue. Not only that, but many of us must look to adjust our consumption habits - be it selecting more durable, repairable items, reducing our single-use plastic consumption, or supporting sustainable brands and organizations.
With fabrics like SHORE-TEX™ still being seen as a relatively new phenomenon, having been selected as a finalist in Fast Company’s “World-Changing Ideas Awards” as recently as 2020, innovations like this are intrinsically important, to inspire others and to drive change. As innovation continues across the board, with organizations and brands finding ways to recycle waste products, the future is bright - and most definitely recycled.
Want to learn more about the specifics of recycling? Our plastic pollution problem? Learn more below:
- Solgaard - SHORE-TEX™Video
- What is PET and why does it matter?
- Sungai Watch - Protecting Rivers in Bali, Indonesia
Written by Cicely Sinclair