A stronger thread
As the name suggests, Bionic Yarn is a start-up that produces strength-optimised fibres from recycled ocean plastic. The quality of the resulting yarn is so good that it used by high-end retailers like Timberland and G-Star Raw as well as in fashion projects like ESA Couture in Orbit. Co-founder Tyson Toussant tells the story so far.
Bionic Yarn is really a combination of recycling and textile technologies. We take recycled plastic and use it at the core of our yarn. Other textiles are then typically wrapped around the plastic, such as really high-quality cotton thread, to make denim. The result is greater performance in terms of abrasion and tensile strength – typically a four-fold increase compared to traditional alternatives. Our yarn can be designed to meet nearly any performance or aesthetic requirements our partner asks for.
The result is a high-end product that also helps the environment in innovative ways. The plastic we use has been recycled from coastlines in Asia and Central America. These are regions without recycling infrastructure and so plastic waste ends up on their shores. What we’ve done is create a market for this waste and allow these communities to reap the benefit. The plastic gets collected on the ground and sorted on the spot before being shipped to us. Every step of the collection process is fully certified – from the individual retrieving the debris to the shipping container transporting a batch of plastic.
Our company began in 2007 when we started designing outdoor camping equipment and came across a company recycling plastic bottles to make material strong enough to be used in tents and sleeping bags. The problem was that the resulting fabric wasn’t durable and so began our inspiration for Bionic Yarn. If we could make things that weren’t simply novelty products, we could get consumers to buy them, and embed our waste in usable items.
By making people more mindful about how much plastic we throw away, we can get them to focus on all the synthetic waste we’ve created and what we’re going to do with it. It’s another resource we can make use of – once the plastic is melted and extruded, it’s no different from new plastic refined from oil. To that end, we’re also trying other products with injection molds such as plastic toys, packaging and even lotion bottles.
When the opportunity arose to get involved with Couture in Orbit, we jumped at the chance because it reflects Bionic Yarn’s ethos. We like to think beyond what’s right in front of us – this offers us a chance to do just that.