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How can wood-based materials make polyester more sustainable?

Finding more sustainable solutions for the polyester and polyurethane used in the fashion industry has been a challenge. A new fleece jacket made of polyester from partially renewable feedstock shows that replacing part of the oil-based materials with wood-based ingredients in polyester manufacturing is possible.

Polyester is the world’s most widely used fibre; it or other fossil-based polymers can be found in around 60% of all materials used in clothing. Yet only 15% is currently derived from recycled PET bottles or other feedstock, and less than one percent of the material used in clothing production is recycled into new clothing.* Replacing even a part of fossil-based polymer resin in polyester with renewable ingredient can make a big difference. UPM Biochemicals and outdoor apparel supplier VAUDE decided to tackle this issue.

Fleece jacket with less fossil-based resin demonstrates the innovation

VAUDE’s fleece jacket is one example of how renewable ingredients can be used to make everyday items more sustainable. A cooperation between UPM Biochemicals and Vaude demonstrates that the shift towards bio-based materials in fashion is already feasible.

Renewable materials are a key enabler for the sustainable transformation of the fashion industry. Creating a world beyond fossils is not just a mission, it’s a responsibility. A fully functioning circular economy requires working together across value chains,” says Dr. Christian Hübsch, Director Sales & Marketing, UPM Biochemicals.

The resin used to make polyester contains 30% monoethylene glycol (MEG), traditionally sourced from crude oil. UPM Biochemicals and VAUDE replaced the ingredient with a new bio-monoethylene glycol (BioMEG), UPM’s BioPura™. BioPura is a drop-in solution that can be easily used in existing polyester manufacturing processes because it is identical to fossil-based MEG on a molecular basis.

Using BioPura in resin reduces the fossil-based materials in polyester by 30%.



Stong partnership enables the transformation towards sustainability

VAUDE is committed to reduce its environmental impact, and that requires exploring alternative material sources and embracing the circular economy.

By incorporating UPM’s bio-based materials, we are able to further explore and unlock the power of renewable circularity; to use less, source from renewable sources, and ensure the product can remain in the value chain after its useful life,” says René Bethmann, Senior Innovation Manager, Materials & Manufacturing, VAUDE.



Partnership is key. Indorama Ventures, a leading chemical company, will polymerise and spin a polyester yarn containing UPM’s BioPura BioMEG at its facility in Guben, Germany. Then the yarn is processed by Italian textile manufacturer Pontetorto into an innovative bio-based polyester fabric. VAUDEwill use this fabric to produce the final garment.

This partnership shows that transformative steps in the chemical industry towards renewable materials are possible now. We are prototyping a world beyond fossils with VAUDE, proving that the next level of sustainable textiles is available. VAUDE sets an example in breaking away from oil-based textiles and reducing emission reductions that the whole industry must follow,” concludes Dr. Michael Duetsch, Vice President Biochemicals, UPM.

UPM invests EUR 1,180 million to build the world’s first industrial scale biorefinery in Leuna, Germany. In Leuna, UPM will convert sustainably sourced, certified hardwood into next generation biochemicals that will enable the vital shift away from fossil-based to renewable materials across a wide range of industries.


‘Textiles and the environment in a circular economy’, European Environment Agency – November 2019.
‘Preferred Fiber & Materials Market Report’, Textile Exchange – October 2022.
‘A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future’, Ellen Macarthur Foundation – 2017.