Sympatex is highlighting its focus on sustainability in a highly competitive market for waterproof/breathable membranes. At the Ispo Munich trade show earlier this month, the management of the Munich-based maker of functional materials strived to convey this message by saying that it is the right thing to do from the perspective of social and environmental responsibility, and adding that Sympatex is working on a new strategy to go circular with recycling. It admitted that it still has some work to do in this respect and that the large quantity of synthetic microfibers released in the oceans still is the “Achilles' heel” of the process.

The company cited a study by the Institute for Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials of the Italian National Research Council which found that, on average, 700,000 microfibers were released from six kilos of wash. Sympatex' own research established that its two-layer laminate resulted in significantly reduced microfiber release during washing. However, the company admits that it is not able to quantify it, and says it needs to carry out further studies.

At Ispo, the company presented an actual production line for footwear – consisting of a plastic shredder, an extruder and a 3D printer – to demonstrate the value of using recycled plastic in the manufacturing process. The plastic was shredded, extruded, fed into an upper-making printer and bound to a Vibram sole before the public's eyes.

It also noted that some of its new apparel brand partners for the 2019/2020 season – namely Mammut, Zanier, Lagoped and On Running – were recognized at Ispo for their sustainability.

Sympatex said it helped Mammut to come up with the first laser-welded down jacket on the market, the Photics Hs Thermo Hooded Jacket. Using a two-layer Sympatex laminate, the brand's Laser Fuse Technology keeps the Sympatex shell completely sealed and waterproof. In addition, Lagoped received an Ispo Gold Award for a ski suit made from 100 percent recycled materials, including a Sympatex membrane with pre-consumer recycled content.

Zanier received an award at Ispo for incorporating recycled membranes by Sympatex into its new models of gloves for the coming season. That includes its Revolution.XSX, made from high-quality goat leather, and the Evolution.XSX, which features PrimaLoft insulation along with a Sympatex membrane. 

On introduced its first waterproof Sympatex running jacket during the trade fair. It is made with a sustainable three-layer laminate manufactured with a climate-neutral, recyclable Sympatex membrane.