Enhanced Biodegradation Technology Could Significantly Reduce Clothing Impact at the Landfill
Author: Geoff Nudelman
Compounding the problem of the sheer scale of discarded clothing that ends up in landfills is that much of it is made from synthetic materials - which can take hundreds, if not thousands, of years to fully decompose. Landfills simply can’t handle that timespan, not to mention the immense amount of greenhouse gas that decomposition releases - another major contributor to the global climate crisis. The outdoor apparel industry is front and center when it comes to this problem. A vast majority of outdoor apparel brands - even sustainability-conscious names including The North Face and Arc’teryx - rely on materials such as polyester and nylon to support high performance; but many of those materials simply can’t be recycled or repurposed at scale and head to the landfill at some point between initial sale and end of their useful life. As a next major step (as of July), all new products featuring the textile now incorporate the Enhanced Biodegradation additive, which accelerates the biodegradation of synthetic textiles in landfills. The additive is made from a volcanic rock-like material that’s porous and enables a quicker degradation of the specific material while allowing active landfills to capture any methane emissions, potentially reducing the overall warming impact of the degrading product.