The Lycra Company: Collaboration for next-gen bio-derived fiber at scale

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The LYCRA Company signs an agreement with Qore® LLC to enable large-scale production of bio-derived spandex. Pictured – Julien Born, CEO of The LYCRA Company (left), and Jon Veldhouse, CEO of Qore® LLC (right), at The LYCRA Company’s headquarters in Wilmington, DE, USA.

The LYCRA Company, a global leader in developing innovative fiber and technology solutions for the textile and apparel industry, today announced it has entered into an agreement with Qore® to enable the world’s first large-scale commercial production of bio-derived spandex using QIRA®, the next generation 1,4-butanediol (BDO), as one of its main ingredients. This will result in 70% of the LYCRA® fiber content being derived from annually renewable feedstock. This change could potentially reduce the carbon footprint of LYCRA® fiber by up to 44%* versus equivalent product made from fossil-based resources, while maintaining the same high-quality performance parameters of traditional LYCRA® fiber.

QIRA® will be produced at Cargill’s biotechnology campus and corn refining operation in Eddyville, Iowa. The facility, which is currently being built, will commence operations in 2024. The first renewable LYCRA® fiber made with QIRA® will be produced at The LYCRA Company’s Tuas, Singapore manufacturing site in 2024. The LYCRA Company is currently seeking commitments with brand and retail customers who are pursuing bio-derived solutions for their apparel.

“As part of our sustainability goals, we are committed to delivering products that support a more circular economy while helping our apparel and personal care customers reduce their footprint,” said Julien Born, CEO of The LYCRA Company. “We are especially pleased to collaborate with Qore®, a company that shares our vision for innovative, sustainable solutions. Their expertise in operating fermentation processes and understanding of the chemical value chains makes them the ideal partner to help develop a bio-derived LYCRA® fiber at commercial scale.”

“We are proud to partner with The LYCRA Company on bringing this sustainable material solution to the market. This collaboration demonstrates that QIRA® directly replaces conventional BDO and thus significantly improves the fiber’s sustainability profile,” said Jon Veldhouse, CEO of Qore®. “QIRA® is an innovative platform chemical that can be used in various applications across industries.”

The first generation of renewable LYCRA® fiber made with QIRA® will use feedstock from field corn grown by Iowa farmers and will enable a significant reduction in CO2 footprint. In addition to replacing a finite resource with an annually renewable one, another benefit for mills, brands and retailers is that there is no change in fiber performance, eliminating the need for any re-engineering of fabrics, patterns, or processes. Equivalent performance was demonstrated in 2014 when the world’s first bio-derived spandex was launched under the LYCRA® brand. The LYCRA Company has since been granted a patent for the process used to make renewable elastane from bio-derived BDO.

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