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Industry Talk

Recognition for PU-free zipper

GTT’s Empel technology provides full water repellency and eliminates a challenge for garment recyclers.

14th December 2023

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Munich

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

YKK’s DynaPel water-repellent zipper was judged Best Product in the Accessories category of the latest ISPO Textrends Awards, announced alongside the recent ISPO trade show in Munich.

Designed to be compatible with garment recycling systems, the DynaPel zipper uses GTT’s Empel technology instead of the standard polyurethane (PU) film to achieve its water repellency. The lack of a PU film helps remove one of the barriers to the textile-to-textile recycling of performance apparel by eliminating the urethane material.

“Receiving an ISPO Textrends Award helps validate the technology and our efforts to develop fasteners for circular systems,” said Terry Tsukumo, vice president of product strategy at YKK Corporation. “By employing Empel technology, we can achieve the robust water protection expected from YKK products while eliminating the challenge to recycling systems.”

Conventional chemical and mechanical garment recycling systems cannot process the PU film commonly used on water-repellent zippers, making the removal of zippers from garments necessary before recycling.  This additional processing step often deters recyclers from accepting garments with PU zippers, resulting in unnecessary waste.

Empel technology uses advanced green chemistry devoid of PFAS and a specialised manufacturing process that allows the chemistry to penetrate the yarn and encapsulate it with a water-repellent layer through molecular cross-linking. The molecular cross-linking creates an extremely durable layer that is highly resistant to abrasion and invisible to the eye.

“DynaPel represents a new generation of sustainable, high-performance water-repellant zippers,” said Tsukumo. “It is the future of water protection for zippers.”

The Empel textile finishing platform of Green Theme Technologies (GTT)  provides mills and brands with clean solutions that outperform all current water repellent, stain-release and anti-wick technologies.

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